World War II Monuments in Ukraine

Protection, Dismantling, Reuse since 2022

  • Iryna Sklokina (Autor/in)


The article concerns the different ways of dealing with World War II monuments in Ukraine since the start of Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Reevaluation, changing inscriptions, relocation, demolition and museumification have all developed around the notions of decommunisation, decolonisation, and de-Russification, in spite of the fact that World War II monuments are exempt from the “decommunisation laws”. The regions directly affected by warfare today demonstrate a more protective approach to World War II heritage as it is under threat of immediate destruction by the Russians. There is also a tendency to reinterpret these monuments in the light of the ongoing war with Russia and to use them for commemorations of the fallen in both wars. In other regions of the country, there are initiatives to change inscriptions and/or relocate the monuments from public space to cemeteries, but they concern only a small number of the monuments. The Lviv region in the west of Ukraine demonstrates a special pattern: the regional administration in concert with civic activists have effectively demolished almost all Soviet World War II monuments, in spite of resistance by, or lack of active support from, the local communities. Many civic activists and veterans are involved in the monuments’ demolitions. Rhetorically, the use of notions of “Soviet occupation” and the marking of Soviet monuments as “Russian” is widespread, as in other countries of Eastern and Central Europe.