Victory Day is one of the most important and revered holidays in the Russian calendar. The war that killed more than 27 million Russian people, and according to some estimates, more than 29 million, did not spare a single Russian home from loss of life or injury of a family member.
In Russia, unlike in Europe, Victory Day is celebrated on May 9th. According to some sources, Stalin did not like the first signed act of surrender, and marshal Georgy Zhukov was instructed once again to accept a general surrender from representatives of all types of German armed forces in Berlin. The new Act was signed on the night of May 9, at 00.43 Moscow time. In Europe, it was still 8th of May.
The Great Patriotic War
World War II is recognized as the largest, destructive and bloody war in the history of mankind. Russian people more often refer to it as the Great Patriotic War.
The war came to Russia on June 22, 1941. Russian troops immediately began to suffer huge losses, the inhabitants of the captured territories found themselves in German captivity and were sent into camps as slaves. However, despite the fact that the Soviet army was losing, it still managed to stop the Germans on the way to Leningrad, Moscow and Novgorod.
Leningrad was taken into blockade, the inhabitants of the city remained without the supply of food, fuel, medicines and everything necessary for life for long 872 days.
Blockade of Leningrad in pictures
On November 19, 1942, a counterattack of the Soviet troops began, which yielded significant results – one German and four allied armies were destroyed. The Soviet army continued to attack in all directions, they managed to crush several armies, begin the pursuit of the Germans and push the front line back towards the west.
Thanks to the military industry of the USSR that managed to build up the resources, the Soviet army began to substantially overpower the German one and now could not only resist, but also dictate its own conditions. From the defending army it turned into a striker.
In 1943-1945, the Soviet army continued to advance towards Berlin, reconquering the captured territories. In January 1943, the blockade of Leningrad was lifted, and by 1944, Soviet troops moved towards Poland, and then to Germany. On May 8, Berlin was taken, and the German troops declared unconditional surrender.
The significance of the Victory Day for the Russian people
Victory Day unites both young and old people of Russia. Each family can tell the stories of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers who have defended the freedom not only of Russia, but also of Europe. The Russian people paid a high price for this Victory, and to this day they remember and honor the millions who died.
The war was a tragedy, but it allowed to show the best of Russian people: perseverance and courage, unity and solidarity in the face of the enemy, diligence and dedication, talent of engineers and military leaders, military prowess and love for the Motherland.
Fewer and fewer veterans remain alive and can personally tell their stories to the young generation. Victory Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to all who fought or worked in the rear during wartime.
How do Russians celebrate their victory
Victory Day is a public holiday in Russia. According to the tradition of recent years, St. George ribbons are distributed everywhere by volunteers, which not only veterans but also young people wear as a symbol of the connection between generations and the memory of the Great Victory.
On this day, flower and wreath laying ceremonies are held everywhere at monuments for the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. Also, various events are held to honor war veterans and rear front workers, festive concerts are organized, courage lessons in schools are conducted and reconstruction of battles are held in some places.
The tradition of recent years is the civil-patriotic action called “Immortal Regiment”, which today has become an international public movement to preserve the personal memory of the generation of the Great Patriotic War. Participants of the annual movement on Victory Day walk through the streets of cities with photos of their relatives. Veterans of the army and navy, partisans, underground fighters, resistance fighters, home front workers, concentration camp prisoners, blockaders, children of war all gather on that day.Family stories are also written about them in the People’s Chronicle on the site of the movement “Immortal regiment”. This action happens in more than 80 countries and territories.
1 millions Russians at Immortal Regiment march in Moscow