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Victory Day – the holiday of USSR victory over the Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945

9 May 1945

On May 8, 1945 at 22:43 Central European time (May 9, 00:43 Moscow time) in the town of Karlskhorte near Berlin was signed the German Instrument of Surrender. On behalf of Germany it was signed by Field Marshal W. Keitel as the Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces and as representative of the army (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht); Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg as Commander-in-Chief of the navy and Colonel-General H.-J. Stumpff as the representative of the air force. The Soviet Union was represented by Marshal G. K. Zhukov on behalf of the Supreme High Coimmand and the Allies were represented by Air Chief Marshal A. Tedder as Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. As witness were present General Carl Spaatz, Commanding United States Strategic Air Forces and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Commanding First French Army.

On May 8, 1945 before the signing of Instrument of Surrender I. V. Stalin signed the decree of Supreme Soviet Presidium of USSR declaring the 9th of May the Victory Day.

‘On the night of May 9, 1945 the citizens of Moscow did not sleep. At 2:00 a. m. the radio announced that an important announcement will be made. At 2:10 a. m. Yuri Levitan read the German Instrument of Surrender and the Decree of USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium on declaring May 9 the Day of national holiday – Holiday of Victory. People ran out of their houses on the streets… congratulated each other with a long-awaited victory. Banners appeared. More and more people were gathering, they moved towards the Red Square. A spontaneous demonstration began. Joyful faces, songs, dances to the accompaniment of accordion. In the evening a salute was fired: thirty salvoes from thousands of guns in honor of the Great Victory’ (Alexander Ustinov, a military correspondent).

On that day ‘Pravda’ wrote: ‘The Ninth of May! Never would a Soviet person forget this day. As well as the day of June 22, 1941. Seems like a century between these two dates. And the way it happens in the national epic, a Soviet person had grown incredibly during the period. He had grown the way that a Red Army man standing near a flying banner in Berlin is seen by the whole world. We did not expect June 22. But we craved for the day when the last blow would overthrown the black monster offensive for the life itself. And we struck this blow… What a joy we feel today. And the night sky over Moscow seems to be reflecting the same joy which fills the Soviet land. We had witnessed the events which would take volumes of texts to describe. But today there is one word containing them all: Victory!..’.

On June 24, 1945 on the Red Square in Moscow was held the first Parade of Victory. Marshal Zhukov accepted the parade commanded by Marshal Rokossovsky. The regiments of Belorussian, Leningrad, Karelia and Ukrainian fronts, as well as combined regiment of the Navy marched through the parade ground on the Red Square. The columns were headed by the regiments’ commanders. The Heroes of the Soviet Union carried flags and banners of the units which had distinguished themselves during the war. At the end of the parade 200 soldiers carried the Nazi banners turned toward the ground and threw them on the special platform at Lenin Mausoleum pedestal.

From 1948 to 1964 the day of May 9 was an ordinary working day. In the year of the 20th anniversary of Victory the Supreme Soviet Presidium of USSR issued a decree declaring the day of May 9 a holiday ; for the first time since the end of war on the Red Square took place a parade of troops and military hardware of Moscow garrison.

Until 1995 the parades on the Red Square on Victory Day were held only in jubilee years: 1965, 1985 and 1990. Then they were held annually; from 2008 parades started to include again the military hardware.

Lit.: Жуков Г. К. Воспоминания и размышления. М., 2002; То же [Электронный ресурс] URL: http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/zhukov1/index.html; Наша Победа. День за днём [Электронный ресурс] // РИА Новости. 2005. URL: http://9may.ru/.

From the Presidential library materials:

A parade on the Red Square in Moscow during the Great Patriotic War took place // On this day. 7 November 1941;

The Great Victory Memory: collection;

Victory Day. Victory Parade // Combat operations (in pictures TASS).