Searing memories endure in Ukraine, especially of the Battle of Kiev when the Nazis encircled more than 600,000 Soviet troops, who were killed or captured in the monthlong attack.



EACH MAY, aging veterans of World War II stand a little taller and prouder as they celebrate the end of that devastating conflict.

In Europe, veterans gather at memorials, in parades and throughout town squares, remembering the six-year-long war that officially ended on May 8, 1945 — Victory in Europe (V-E) Day — with the defeat of Nazi Germany.

In Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, an elderly World War II veteran pays his respects at a monument commemorating that longed-for conclusion. Ukraine, now an independent country, was part of the Soviet Union during the war years. Searing memories endure in Ukraine, especially of the Battle of Kiev when the Nazis encircled more than 600,000 Soviet troops, who were killed or captured in the monthlong attack.

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Today, tourists flit through Kiev and other Eastern European cities. Visitors sometimes chuckle at the grandiose Soviet-era monuments and proletarian-pride statues. They ooh and aah at the bristling military parade each May in Moscow that celebrates the end of the European fighting. But many veterans and civilian survivors find quieter moments on V-E Day to remember the soldiers, friends and family who died in a world at war.

Kristin R. Jackson is the editor of The Seattle Times’ NWTraveler section. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.