Russian MiniLesson: День Победы – Victory Day

Published: May 8, 2019

День Победы is праздник победы советского народа над фашизмом . It is one of the most important holidays in Russia and чествует ветеранов of Великая Отечественная Война.

День Победы в Европе празднуется on May 8 or 7th. This date marks the surrender at Reims on May 7 (or its delivery and announcement on May 8th), which ended the war in Western Europe.

День Победы в России is celebrated on May 9th. Stalin had a separate капитуляция подписана in Berlin on May 9. Stalin wanted a surrender to be delivered to Soviet Forces, since Soviets contributed the most support to разгром нацистов, and he believed it should be signed in Berlin, центр нацисткой агрессии.

America doesn’t really have a major holiday that directly corresponds to Victory Day. Memorial day is also celebrated in May (on the last Monday), but that чествует погибших солдат всех войн and was originally started to honor those dead from Гражданская Война в США, which was самая кровопролитная война ever fought on American soil.

WWII was the bloodiest war ever fought на российской земле. Russia потеряла больше людей, чем любая другая страна – some 21-28 million soldiers and civilians.

One of самые сильные стороны of the Soviet army was its seemingly endless снабжение людскими ресурсами. Other nations had более развитые военные технологии: танки, современное вооружение, тактика боя. However, the Soviet Army didn’t ever seem to run out of soldiers to resist the advancing enemy armies it faced.

Советская Армия fought Nazi Germany on the Восточный фронт, while other European countries and the US fought in the West. In the Soviet era, the role of the Western allies was sometimes diminished, (as was the role of the Soviets in Western histories). However, the supplies of military equipment from the USA greatly contributed to the success of the Soviet Army in the critical periods such as битва под Москвой in 1941. Likewise, had not the Soviets tirelessly worn down the Nazi army with incredibly bloody battles such as Сталинградская битва, it’s likely that the Nazis could have conquered and held Western Europe.

The St. George ribbon (orange and black) is featured in most May 9th decorations and celebrations. It is now generally associated with Russian patriotism.

May 9 is celebrated all over Russia, the former USSR, and Eastern Europe. There are парады военнослужащих where ветераны приглашаются. In earlier years, veterans participated in parades. However, currently most of the veterans are about 90 years old or older, and so they just sit and watch parades. Самый известный parade происходит in Moscow on Red Square, but cities all over the country have their own parades also. There are концерты и представления; церемонии such as возложение цветов at могила неизвестного солдата in Moscow and at war memorials throughout the country.

In Moscow, there is a tradition that on May 9 veterans gather in front of the Bolshoi Theater. This started as a way to hold a sort of reunion, but it is now also a tradition that many younger Russians participate in, arriving to the area to greet the veterans come, give them flowers and благодарить them for their service.

In recent years, many Russians have started wearing the black and orange stripped ribbons that have formerly been associated with May 9 year-round as a general sign of patriotism. The ribbon is called Георгиевская лента. The ribbon colors and pattern were part of many high военные награды awarded by Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union and in many awards granted by the current Russian Federation. These awards include Орден Святого Георгия and the Soviet Орден Славы (Order of Glory). The ribbons have been displayed on May 9th as знак памяти и уважения к подвигу солдат в годы Великой Отечественной Войны.

The ribbons раздавались in Moscow since 2006 via an initiative of RIA-Novosti (a state-run news agency) and Студенческая община. The ribbons are often worn on a jacket lapel, tied to a backpack, or to some part of an automobile (the radio antenna, rearview mirror, or door handle being most common). The ribbons were once somewhat controversial in Russia as many, particularly older Russians, considered handing out the ribbon to everyone a degradation of the honor signified by the decoration in the state awards. Some also complained about it being tied to cars where it often became dirty and ratty. However, since Russia incorporated Crimea, the ribbons have become an accepted and generally unquestioned display of patriotism in Russia.

About the author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov leads SRAS' Research Services, performing remote archive research and consultations for researchers around the globe. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He also studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and taught Russian at West Virginia University. As a journalist, he has reported in both Russian and English language outlets and has years of archival research experience. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei also contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS Family of Sites.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

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