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Victory Day (9 May)

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Victory Day
Victory Day Parade 2005-36.jpg
Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, 9 May 2005
Official nameRussian: День Победы etc.[a 1]
Observed byRussia, most former Soviet states, Serbia, Israel and former member states of the Warsaw Pact/Comecon
Date9 May
Next time9 May 2020 (2020-05-09)
FrequencyAnnual

Victory Day[a 1] is a holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. It was first inaugurated in the 15[1] republics of the Soviet Union, following the signing of the German Instrument of Surrender late in the evening on 8 May 1945 (after midnight, thus on 9 May Moscow Time). The Soviet government announced the victory early on 9 May after the signing ceremony in Berlin.[2] Though the official inauguration occurred in 1945 the holiday became a non-labour day only in 1965 and only in certain Soviet republics.

In East Germany, 8 May was observed as Liberation Day from 1950 to 1966, and was celebrated again on the 40th anniversary in 1985. In 1975, a Soviet-style "Victory Day" was celebrated on 9 May. Since 2002, the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has observed a commemoration day known as the Day of Liberation from National Socialism, and the End of the Second World War.[3]

History[edit]

Marshal Zhukov reading the German capitulation. Seated on his right is Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder.
Field-Marshal Keitel signing the ratified surrender terms for the German military
"Victory Banner #5", raised on the roof of the Reichstag building

The German Instrument of Surrender was signed twice. An initial document was signed in Reims on 7 May 1945 by Alfred Jodl (chief of staff of the German OKW) for Germany, Walter Bedell Smith, on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and Ivan Susloparov, on behalf of the Soviet High Command, in the presence of French Major-General François Sevez as the official witness. Since the Soviet High Command had not agreed to the text of the surrender, and because Susloparov, a relatively low-ranking officer, was not authorized to sign this document, the USSR requested that a second, revised, instrument of surrender be signed in Berlin. Joseph Stalin declared that the Soviet Union considered the Reims surrender a preliminary document, and Eisenhower immediately agreed with that. Another argument was that some German troops considered the Reims instrument of surrender as a surrender to the Western Allies only, and fighting continued in the East, especially in Prague.[4]

[Quoting Stalin:] Today, in Reims, Germans signed the preliminary act on an unconditional surrender. The main contribution, however, was done by Soviet people and not by the Allies, therefore the capitulation must be signed in front of the Supreme Command of all countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, and not only in front of the Supreme Command of Allied Forces. Moreover, I disagree that the surrender was not signed in Berlin, which was the center of Nazi aggression. We agreed with the Allies to consider the Reims protocol as preliminary.

A second surrender ceremony was organized in a surviving manor in the outskirts of Berlin late on 8 May, when it was already 9 May in Moscow due to the difference in time zones. Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of OKW, signed a final German Instrument of Surrender, which was also signed by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, on behalf of the Supreme High Command of the Red Army, and Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder, on behalf of the Allied Expeditionary Force, in the presence of General Carl Spaatz and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, as witnesses. The surrender was signed in the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. Both English and Russian versions of the instrument of surrender signed in Berlin were considered authentic texts.

The revised Berlin text of the instrument of surrender differed from the preliminary text signed in Reims in explicitly stipulating the complete disarmament of all German military forces, handing over their weapons to local Allied military commanders.

Both the Reims and Berlin instruments of surrender stipulated that forces under German control to cease active operations at 23:01 hours CET on 8 May 1945. However, due to the difference in Central European and Moscow time zones, the end of war is celebrated on 9 May in the USSR and most post-Soviet countries.

To commemorate the victory in the war, the ceremonial Moscow Victory Parade was held in the Soviet capital on 24 June 1945.

Celebrations[edit]

Victory Day 2013 in Donetsk, Ukraine
Ukrainian stamp, 2005

During the Soviet Union's existence, 9 May was celebrated throughout the USSR and in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. Though the holiday was introduced in many Soviet republics between 1946 and 1950, it only became a non-labour day in the Ukrainian SSR in 1963 and the Russian SFSR in 1965. In the Russian SFSR a weekday off (usually a Monday) was given if 9 May fell on a Saturday or Sunday.

The celebration of Victory Day continued during subsequent years. The war became a topic of great importance in cinema, literature, history lessons at school, the mass media, and the arts. The ritual of the celebration gradually obtained a distinctive character with a number of similar elements: ceremonial meetings, speeches, lectures, receptions and fireworks.[5]

In Russia during the 1990s, the 9 May holiday was not celebrated with large Soviet-style mass demonstrations due to the policies of successive Russian governments. Following Vladimir Putin's rise to power, the Russian government began promoting the prestige of the governing regime and history, and national holidays and commemorations became a source of national self-esteem. Victory Day in Russia has increasingly become a celebration in which popular culture plays a central role. The 60th and 70th anniversaries of Victory Day in Russia (2005 and 2015) became the largest popular holidays since the collapse of the Soviet Union.[5]

In 2015 around 30 leaders, including those of China and India, attended the 2015 celebration, while Western leaders boycotted the ceremonies because of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[6][7]

Countries celebrating 9 May[edit]

2005 Victory Day parade on Moscow's Red Square.
2018 Victory Day celebrations in Riga's Victory Park
  • Belarus Belarus has officially recognized 9 May since its independence in 1991 and considers it a non-working day. The holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union. Belarus has had 2 Victory Day Parades on Masherov Avenue (1995, 2005, 2010, and 2015) and has had an annual ceremony on Victory Square since independence.
  • Bulgaria Bulgaria had officially recognized 9 May during its existence as a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Since 1989, all official celebrations of 9 May have been cancelled. As in other EC countries. the Victory Day in Bulgaria is 8 May, while 9 May is the Europe Day. However, some russophiles, eurosceptics and leftists gather unofficially to celebrate the Victory Day on 9 May.[10]
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina has officially recognized 9 May since its independence. However, it is not a working day only in Republic of Srpska.
  • Czech Republic Czech Republic has officially recognized 8 May as Liberation Day (Den osvobození) since the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993. From 1948 to 1993, the communist-dominated Czechoslovak Socialist Republic celebrated the holiday on 9 May in concert with the USSR. Then, it was mainly celebrated with a military parade of the Czechoslovak People's Army (ČSLA) on Letná every five years to mark the end of World War II and the anniversary of the Prague uprising (the first one took place in 1951 while the last of these parades took place in 1985).[11][12]
  • Estonia Estonia does not officially recognize 9 May as a holiday due to its occupational past, although the Russian community still informally celebrate the holiday. The holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union.
  • Georgia (country) Georgia has officially recognized 9 May since its independence in 1991. The holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union. It is particularly celebrated in this way with the Russian community in the country.
  • East Germany The German Democratic Republic recognized Tag der Befreiung (Day of liberation) on 8 May, it was celebrated as a public holiday from 1950 to 1966, and on the 40th anniversary in 1985. Only in 1975 was the official holiday on 9 May instead and that year called Tag des Sieges (Victory Day).
  • Germany The Federal Republic of Germany does not officially recognize 9 May as a holiday. However, informal celebrations continue to take place in some areas of the former German Democratic Republic. Also, on 8 May, the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since 2002 has recognised a commemorative day Tag der Befreiung vom Nationalsozialismus und der Beendigung des 2. Weltkrieges (Day of Liberation from National Socialism, and the End of the Second World War).
  • Israel In Israel, Victory Day on 9 May has historically been celebrated as an unofficial national remembrance day. However, in 2017, Victory in Europe Day was upgraded to the status of an official national holiday day of commemoration by the Knesset, with schools and businesses operating as usual.[13] As a result of immigration of many Red Army veterans, Israel now hosts the largest and most extensive Victory Day celebrations outside the former Soviet Union.[14] Traditions and customs of Victory Day are the same as in Russia, with marches of Immortal Regiments held in cities with large populations of Red Army veterans and their descendants.
Veterans during a Victory Day Parade in Kiev, 2011.

Unrecognized post-Soviet states also celebrate 9 May:

  • Abkhazia Abkhazia has officially recognised 9 May since its declaration of independence in 1990. From 1951 the holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union.
  • Transnistria Transnistria has officially recognised 9 May since its declaration of independence in 1990. From 1951 the holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union.
  • Republic of Artsakh The Republic of Artsakh has officially recognised 9 May since its declaration of independence in 1991. From 1951 the holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union. It coincides with the country's Liberation Day, celebrating the Armenian victory in the Capture of Shushi.


Russophone populations in many countries celebrate the holiday regardless of its local status,[30] organize public gatherings and even parades on this day.[31] Some multilanguage broadcasting television networks translate the "Victory speech" of the Russian president and the parade on Red Square for telecasts for viewers all over the globe, making the parade one of the world's most watched events of the year.[32] RT also broadcasts the parade featuring live commentary, and also airs yet another highlight of the day – the Minute of Silence at 6:55pm MST, a tradition dating back to 1965.

Soviet and post-Soviet symbols associated with the Victory Day[edit]

Soviet stamp, 1945. The inscription on the bottom written in cursive, below the Soviet soldier waving the red flag with Joseph Stalin on it, says, "Long live our victory!"
Local residents in Crimea at «Immortal regiment», carrying portraits of their ancestors and participants in World War II, 9 May 2016

Flags[edit]

Awards[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

Order of Victory
Order of Victory
Medal For the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945
Medal For the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945
Medal For the Capture of Berlin
Medal For the Capture of Berlin
Medal For the Twentieth Anniversary of the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945
Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
Medal for the 30th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Jubilee Medal "Thirty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
Medal for the 40th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"

Russia[edit]

Медаль «50 лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.»
Medal for the 50th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Медаль 60 лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.
Medal for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Медаль 70 лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945

Ukraine[edit]

Медаль 60 лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.
Medal for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism

Kazakhstan[edit]

Медаль 60 лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг. (Казахстан)
Medal for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Медаль 70 лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945

Israel[edit]

אות הלוחם בנאצים
Fighters against Nazis Medal

Gallery of the Celebrations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Russian: День Победы, Den' Pobedy
    Ukrainian: День Перемоги, Den' Peremohy
    Belarusian: Дзень Перамогі, Dzień Pieramohi
    Uzbek: Gʻalaba kuni, Ғалаба куни
    Kazakh: Жеңіс Күні, Jeñis Küni
    Georgian: გამარჯვების დღე, gamarjvebis dghe
    Azerbaijani: Qələbə Günü
    Moldovan: Ziua Victoriei, Зиуа Викторией
    Latvian: Uzvaras diena
    Kyrgyz: Жеңиш майрамы, Jengish Mayramy
    Tajik: Рӯзи Ғалаба, Rūzi Ghalaba
    Armenian: Հաղթանակի օրը, Haght'anaki ory
    Turkmen: Ýeňişlar Harçlaarsiň, Йеңишлар Харчлаарсиң
    Estonian: Võidupüha ("Victory Holiday")
    Tatar: Cyrillic Җиңү көне, Latin Ciñü köne

References[edit]

  1. ^ There were 15 republics in the USSR on 8 May 1945. The Karelo-Finnish SSR was abolished in 1956.
  2. ^ Earl F. Ziemke, 1990, Washington DC, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY, CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258 last 2 paragraphs
  3. ^ "Gesetz über Sonn- und Feiertage des Landes Mecklenburg-Vorpommern". Mv.juris.de. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ Zhukov, Georgy (2002). Memoirs (in Russian). Olma-Press. p. 329.
  5. ^ a b Ločmele, K.; Procevska, O.; Zelče, V. (2011). Muižnieks, Nils (ed.). "Celebrations, Commemorative Dates and Related Rituals: Soviet Experience, its Transformation and Contemporary Victory Day Celebrations in Russia and Latvia" (PDF). The Geopolitics of History in Latvian-Russian Relations. Riga: Academic Press of the University of Latvia. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  6. ^ Soldatkin, Vladimir; Stubbs, Jack; Heritage, Timothy (9 May 2015). "Russia stages WW2 victory parade as Ukraine bristles". Reuters. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  7. ^ Parfitt, Tom (9 May 2015). "Russia's Victory Day Parade marks new East-West divide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  8. ^ Anon. "Victory and Peace Day: May 9". Holidays around the world. A Global World. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  9. ^ Anon. "Victory Day Observed in Azerbaijan". Holidays around the world. A global world. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Bulgaria marks Europe Day and Victory Day". bnr.bg. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Praha zažila vojenskou přehlídku, po 23 letech | Domov". Lidovky.cz (in Czech). 28 October 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Prahou má burácet velkolepá vojenská přehlídka". Novinky.cz. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  13. ^ Israel passed the law on 26 July 2017.
  14. ^ Israel to host most extensive Victory Day celebrations outside of former USSR Archived 27 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine 7 May, Voice of Russia
  15. ^ "Военные парады в Казахстане за 15 лет "подорожали" в одиннадцать раз". Radiotochka.kz | Новости Казахстана – события, мнения, аналитика. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  16. ^ https://regnum.ru/news/polit/1922892.html
  17. ^ "Thousands mark Soviet Victory Day in Riga". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Crowds mark Soviet 'Victory Day' in Rīga". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  19. ^ http://theubpost.mn/2016/05/15/mongolia-marks-victory-day/
  20. ^ "Mamy nowe święto państwowe. Po raz pierwszy obchodzimy Narodowy Dzień Zwycięstwa". TVN24.pl. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  21. ^ Anon. "For Russia 70th WWII anniversary looms large". Russia behind the headlines. RBTH network. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Сталинабад. 9 мая 1945 года - Новости Таджикистана ASIA-Plus". www.news.tj. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  23. ^ Brummell, Paul (6 May 2019). "Turkmenistan". Bradt Travel Guides. Retrieved 6 May 2019 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ Lviv Oblast, however, does not recognize Victory Day, but rather recognizes the day as a memorial to all wartime victims of both the Soviet and Nazi regimes, as well as all of those caught in between.
  25. ^ «Велику Вітчизняну війну» замінили на «Другу світову» — закон (in Ukrainian). Fakty. ICTV. 09.04.2015
  26. ^ Депутати врегулювали питання про відзначення в Україні перемоги над нацизмом (in Ukrainian). The Ukrainian Week. 09.04.2015
  27. ^ Poroshenko signed the laws about decomunization. Ukrayinska Pravda. 15 May 2015
    Poroshenko signs laws on denouncing Communist, Nazi regimes, Interfax-Ukraine. 15 May 2015
  28. ^ "День Перемоги: як його святкували в Україні у різні роки". Інформаційне агентство Українські Національні Новини (УНН). Всі онлайн новини дня в Україні за сьогодні - найсвіжіші, останні, головні. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  29. ^ "Their memory lives on". Ut.uz. Archived from the original on 16 May 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  30. ^ "Estonia: Local Russians Celebrate End Of World War II". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 9 May 2007. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  31. ^ В Канаде прошли праздничные мероприятия, посвященные Дню Победы [Russian Orthodox Church in Toronto celebrates Victory Day]. Mospat.ru (in Russian). 8 May 2005. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  32. ^ "May 9 parade TV-event from Israel" (in Russian). Courier (Israeli newspaper). 9 May 2009. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.[failed verification]

External links[edit]