“Save Mariupol!” the Ukrainians shouted. But German police took the Ukrainian flag from them [Szczęśniak z Berlina]

“We do not want Europe to support Russia in any way. It is impossible for Russia to advance its interests in Europe. We are going to Berlin to show solidarity with the Ukrainians, “Victoria Pogrebniak of Euromaidan told me before leaving Warsaw.

On Sunday, May 8, 2022, at 4:00 am, on the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II, we took a bus to Berlin with fifty people who could not understand that Germany would allow Russian nationalists to demonstrate at home.

“Russians in Berlin want to support all these atrocities”

The participation of the Russians is a tradition of celebrating the German Victory Day in connection with the end of the Second World War. Not surprisingly, it was the Red Army that liberated Berlin from Nazi rule in 1945.

Russians and fans of various Russian regimes paid special attention to the holiday in Treptower. This park in the south of Berlin commemorates the victims of the 1945 Battle of Berlin. There is a huge statue of a Soviet soldier who broke a swastika with his sword. 5,000 Red Army soldiers were buried at his feet.

More or less marginal groups, usually praising Soviet and modern Russia, came to the monument. “In addition to Soviet symbolism, there are two-headed tsarist eagles, and next to the flags of sickles and hammers, the flag of modern Russia. You can hear the songs and Orthodox prayers of Kalinka and other Russian soldiers, “said Yakub Majmurek, who celebrated Victory Day in Berlin after a documentary by Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa.

An integral element of the Berlin festivities were the performances of the Night Wolves, known as “Putin’s gang” – motorcyclists, homophobes, Stalin’s apologists for Ukraine. About 150 of them arrived in Berlin this year.

“We have heard that Russian activists want to show their flags, that they belong to the Russian Federation, and that they support Russia out loud, that they want to support all these atrocities,” Wiktora told me. “We will tell the Russians very clearly that we do not want to behave like this in Europe. We will show solidarity with the Ukrainians and oppose the Putin regime. “

Who went with him?

“They are ordinary people, they do not belong to any organization. “These are just people from Poland and Ukraine who believe that Russia cannot be promoted in Europe.”

Katya hugs her son and someone comments on her elegant dress. The information we received before the trip said: “We offer comfortable shoes and clothes” and most people are actually in sneakers, comfortable.

When she arrives, Katia wears a few beads.

During the seven-hour journey, Natalya tells me how she raised money for equipment for her son, who fought on the front lines – bulletproof vests and night vision goggles. A few thousand zlotys. There are always people who will throw themselves. “I never thought I would be a soldier’s mother.” Poland’s help also affects him.

She is wearing a sweater in sharp, fluorescent shades of yellow and green. He hopes that this will help bypass the ban on bringing Ukrainian flags to memorials.

Natalya arrived in Berlin wearing a sweater in the national colors of Ukraine.  He hoped that in this way he would circumvent Germany's ban on the display of Ukrainian flags.  However, the police ordered him to take off his sweater before approaching the monument to Soviet Soldiers, May 8, 2022, photo: A. Szczęśniak

Before going to the monument to Soviet soldiers, several people take Ukrainian flags from the trunk of a bus, while others take Ukrainian flags from their handbags and backpacks. The parade with strong yellow and blue accents starts from the kindergarten in the direction of the Monument to Soviet Soldiers.

Berlin bans flags also Ukrainian

To prevent street clashes between Ukrainians and Russians, German police have banned the display of both Russian and Ukrainian flags near 15 memorials in Berlin. You could walk around the city with them, but not near certain monuments. Among them is the place we went to.

It is strictly forbidden to submit:

  • Russian or Ukrainian flags,
  • Georgi ribbons (symbol of the Soviet army),
  • parts of uniforms or uniforms, as well as in modified forms,
  • sing anthems or military songs,
  • In the current situation, to shout slogans that can like, praise or glorify the war in Ukraine. “

The ban does not apply to war veterans and diplomats.

Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik said in a statement that it was a matter of “decent memory” and the prevention of conflicts at memorials. “At the same time, we are taking measures to support, approve, praise and even praise Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, especially at meetings,” Slovik added.

In accordance with these rules, the police unfurled a 25-meter Ukrainian flag, and some other groups of people brought it to the monument to Soviet Soldiers near Tiergarten.

This probably happened when our group was trying to reach the monument. At the checkpoint in the park, the police chose what to show and what not to show. Mrs. Natalya had to take off her yellow-blue sweater. Girls with yellow-blue wreaths passed by the police.

The film shows people with Polish and Belarusian flags passing freely. Those who have Ukrainian flags should roll them.

The ban was criticized by Ukrainian authorities. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba commented On Twitter:

“Berlin made a mistake by banning Ukrainian symbols. It is deeply wrong to equate them with Russian symbols. The seizure of Ukrainian flags from peaceful protesters is now an attack on anyone who defends Europe and Germany with Russian aggression. ”

The Euromaidan organization also spoke: “Germany has not learned anything. A German woman protested in Ukraine and took away the Ukrainian flag. Shame on you, Germany. Today, no European country bans Ukrainian flags.

Yellow and blue streets of Berlin

Ukrainians came from Warsaw to prevent those who wanted to openly demonstrate Soviet and Russian symbolism. This did not happen on Sunday. Mondays may be different during major celebrations.

In front of Tiergarten, protesters sang Ukraine’s national anthem and the Red Kalina. They shouted: “Save Mariupol!”, “Save Azovstal!”, “Save the children!”, “Glory to Ukraine!”, “Gerojom Slava!”

Victor wrote scenes of Russian crimes in the clothes he wore. There were a few more girls dressed like that. Among other things, they posed for pictures in front of a church in Berlin.

Ukrainian women on Victory Day in Berlin, May 8, 2022, photo by A. Szczęśniak

Then we walked the streets of Berlin without any restrictions. The Berliners responded kindly, greeted us with horns, stopped, posed for pictures with people wrapped in yellow and blue flags, and shouted: “Glory to Ukraine!”

Ukrainians on Victory Day in Berlin, May 8, 2022, photo A. SzczęśniakUkrainians on Victory Day in Berlin, May 8, 2022, photo A. Szczęśniak

Maryna.  Berlin, May 8, 2022, photo by A. Szczęśniak

Agata Szczęśniak
Agata Szczęśniak

Editor, publicist. Krytyka is a co-founder and long-time senior vice president of Polityczna. He worked for Gazeta Wyborcza. Being a sociologist, he also studied philosophy and international relations. He teaches at SWPS University. Mazovian and Podlasie are proud of their roots.
On OKO.press, she writes about the media, Poland and foreign policy, and women’s rights.

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