Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945

On May 9, Russia annually celebrates a national holiday – Victory Day, held in commemoration of the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

The Great Patriotic War, which is an integral part of the Second World War of 1939-1945, began at dawn on June 22, 1941, when fascist Germany, violating the Soviet-German treaties of 1939, attacked the Soviet Union. On her side were Romania and Italy, on 23 June they were joined by Slovakia, on 25 June by Finland, on 27 June by Hungary, on 16 August by Norway.

The war lasted almost four years and became the largest armed clash in the history of mankind. On the front stretching from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, from 8 million to 13 million people fought simultaneously from both sides in different periods of the war, from 6,000 to 20,000 tanks and assault guns, from 85,000 to 165,000 guns and mortars, from 7 thousand to 19 thousand aircraft.

In their aggressive plans, the Hitlerites made the main bet on the “lightning war”: within a month and a half or two months, to defeat the Red Army, to seize Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), the industrial regions of the European part of the USSR, to enter the Arkhangelsk-Volga line and powerful blows Aviation through the industrial regions of the Urals victoriously to complete the war with the Soviet Union. Their plans included the dismemberment of the USSR, the separation of Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Baltic, the Crimea, Moldova and the Caucasus from it.

Girl-sniper Lyuba Makarova at the rally of the snipers of the 3rd shock army of the Kalinin Front in the years of the Great Patriotic War

However, the calculations of the invaders for a quick victory over the Soviet people in one short-term campaign failed. Soviet troops in bloody battles exhausted the enemy, forcing him to move to defense on the entire German-Soviet front, and then inflicted on the enemy a number of major defeats. Soviet soldiers defeated the fascist troops in the largest battles near Moscow, Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Leningrad, the Kursk Bulge, the Dnieper, Belorussia and the Baltics.

Having cleared the territory of the USSR from the enemy, they, cooperating with the allied armies of the anti-Hitler coalition, completed the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 and liberated the country of Europe from occupation.

The decisive offensive actions of the Soviet troops were fought on a thousand-kilometer front, deployed to a depth of hundreds of kilometers. On the Soviet-German front, fascist Germany suffered the greatest losses. Soviet troops captivated and defeated 607 enemy divisions. The irrevocable losses of Germany and its allies on the Soviet-German front amounted to more than 8.6 million people.

Over 75% of all enemy weapons and military equipment were captured and destroyed. At a great price, victory was won by the Soviet Union. Total human losses (directly during the entire war) of the Soviet people amounted to about 27 million people. The occupants completely or partially destroyed 1710 cities and towns, more than 70,000 villages and villages.

The Patriotic War, a tragedy that entered almost every Soviet family, ended in victory for the USSR. The Act of unconditional surrender of fascist Germany was signed in the suburb of Berlin on May 8, 1945 at 22.43 on Central European Time (Moscow time on May 9 at 0.43). It is because of this time difference that the Day of the end of the Second World War in Europe is celebrated on May 8, and in the USSR and then in Russia – on May 9.

In the USSR, May 9 was declared the Victory Day over fascist Germany by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of May 8, 1945. The decree of May 9 was declared “the day of the nationwide celebration to commemorate the victorious completion of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people against the German fascist invaders and the historic victories of the Red Army that crowned the complete defeat of Hitler’s Germany, which announced unconditional surrender.” The May 9 decree was declared a non-working day.

On May 9, 1945, people’s festivities and crowded rallies were held everywhere. In the squares and parks of cities and villages there were groups of amateur performances, popular artists of the theater and cinema, orchestras played. At 21:00 with the appeal to the Soviet people the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars Joseph Stalin spoke. At 22 o’clock, 30 artillery salvoes of 1,000 guns were fired. After the fire, dozens of aircraft dropped over Moscow garlands of multi-colored missiles, numerous Bengal lights flashed in the squares.

Soviet pilots on IL-2 planes attack the column of the enemy during the Battle of the Kursk Bulge

In December 1947 issued a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, according to which the day of May 9 – the feast of victory over Germany – was declared a working day.

And only in the year of the twentieth anniversary of the Victory by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of April 26, 1965, the day of May 9 was again declared non-working. The holiday was given a solemn status, a special jubilee medal was established. May 9, 1965 on the Red Square in Moscow for the first time since the end of the war was a military parade.

After that, until 1995 on Victory Day parades were held only in the jubilee years – in 1985 and 1990.

May 9, 1995 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow on the Red Square, an anniversary parade of participants in the war and workers of the rear of the war years with units of the Moscow garrison, which, according to its organizers, reproduced the historic Victory Parade in 1945. The Victory Banner was carried to the parade.

In accordance with the Federal Law of May 19, 1995 “On perpetuating the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945” the day of May 9 was declared a national holiday – Victory Day. It is a non-working day and is annually marked by a military parade and artillery salute.

Since that time, parades on Red Square have been held annually, but without military equipment. The tradition of holding military parades on Red Square with the participation of military equipment was resumed in 2008.

According to the decree of the President of the Russian Federation of April 15, 1996, on the Victory Day, wreath-laying to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, holding ceremonial meetings, parades and processions of veterans of the Great Patriotic War on Red Square in Moscow, along with the State Flag of the Russian Federation, the Victory Banner raised above the Reichstag In May 1945.

In 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, military parades will be held in 28 cities of Russia.

According to the tradition, on the Victory Day, apart from the military parade, artillery salute, ceremonial meetings, receptions, meetings with veterans, laying wreaths at monuments, memorials, mass graves of soldiers, etc. are held.

Since 1965 on this day, radio and television are conducting a special solemn-mourning program “Minute of silence.”

Since 2005, a few days before the Victory Day, the patriotic action “St. George’s ribbon” starts. For millions of people, not only in Russia, but also abroad, the ribbon of St. George is a symbol of memory, connections of generations and military glory.

The Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945. Illustration from the book “Immortal Regiment”

Since 2016, the action is carried out by the forces of thousands of “Victory Volunteers” throughout Russia, with the coordination and support of the Rospatriototsentra and Rossotrudnichestvo with the information support of the MIA “Russia Today”.

May 9, also held a public action of memory “Immortal Regiment”, which is a march, during which people carry photos of their relatives who participated in the Great Patriotic War. For the first time it was held in Tomsk in 2012. Since then, the action has become an integral part of the celebration on May 9 throughout the country.

The material was prepared on the basis of information provided by RIA Novosti and open sources

(Additional source: Military Encyclopedia, Military Publishing House, Moscow, 8 volumes, 2004)

Original: День Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941-1945 годов

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Author: Vlad Slavavsky
Low bow to you, veterans. Happy Victory Day!