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One out of four, and 1941 are two numbers everyone who went through the Soviet and post-Soviet schools in Belarus is familiar with. The former stands for the statistics of the Belarusians who died in the Great Patriotic War, the latter marks the year this war began. However, when I first came to Europe as a teenager, I was amazed to discover that no one actually knew either of my people’s heroism or our great victory. The war, as I found out then, did not even start in 1941 — nor was it defined as “patriotic”. Rather it was everyone’s — “world war” — with patriotism not attributed to nationalities.

Essay by Olga Bubich June 20, 2023