Friday, May 09, 2008

Victory Day

Today is a holiday in Krygyzstan. Like in Soviet times May Ninth marks the victory of the USSR over Nazi Germany. There are big billboards with sickles and hammers and red stars all over town to commemorate the occasion. In contrast to the Soviet iconography there is also a lot of capitalist activity on the streets as large numbers of vendors peddle bananas, shashlik, ice cream, beer and other goods to merry makers. This clash of socialist symbols and small scale capitalism seems to be typical of many Kyrgyz holidays.

Officially about 70,000 men from Kyrgyzstan died fighting in World War II. Considering that the total population of the Kirghiz SSR at the time was only about 1.5 million, this was a significant percentage of its young and able bodied male population. Kyrgyzstan suffered far greater military losses as a percentage of its population during World War II than did the US.

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