Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Great Victory. Article by Andrey Tatarinov, Ambassador of Russia to Singapore
Today, on May 9, 2020 we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Great Victory. On this day in 1945 after four years of violent and exhausting battles, the Nazi Germany finally surrendered to the Red Army and its anti-Hitler coalition Allies (including the USA, UK, France and China) putting an end to the devastating Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union and World War II in Europe.
This is a truly nationwide “celebration with tears on eyes” that unites people of different age, race and religion not only in Russia, but also in all countries, that formed the USSR (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) at that time. All its nations and ethnic groups – Russians, Belarussians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tatars, Bashkirs and many others – stood strong and united, and together paid the highest price for this Victory. The war brought a tragedy to almost every family. 60% of Soviet households lost their close relatives.
On this memorable day, May 9, we pay tribute and honor the heroic feat of our parents and grandparents, who perished in battles, were tortured to death in captivity and concentration camps, or died of hunger and the toils of war. The principle goal was one and one only – to defend their Fatherland and families from the Nazi onslaught.
The courage and resilience of the Soviet soldiers and people should not be forgotten and understated. The war history was made by the epic battle of Moscow (1941-1942), which was the first serious defeat of the Nazi army; by the 872 days of siege of Leningrad in 1941-1944; by the bloodiest battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943), that eventually rolled back the aggressor’s advance; by the clash of thousands of armored vehicles at Kursk (1943) – the biggest tank battle ever in history.
The people of the Soviet Union and other countries became the object of inhuman ideology of Nazism, and then the victim of aggression of the most powerful, organized and motivated war machine of that time. The Red Army had to confront not only the human and material resources of Nazi Germany, but also the resources of almost all occupied European states. At the cost of terrible sacrifices the Soviet Union played the crucial role in defeating Nazi Germany and, jointly with the Allies, liberated Europe from the fascist plague and put an end to the Holocaust by releasing hundreds of thousands of prisoners from the Nazi concentration camps.
We pay tribute to the contribution of all the Allies to our common Victory in that war. They stood shoulder to shoulder with the Red Army during the warfare, conducted gruelling Arctic convoys and fraternized on the Elbe. French pilots in the Normandy-Neman fighter regiment fought the enemy on the Soviet-German front. Awareness of the common threat in the face of the inhuman ideology of Nazism had helped the states with different political and socioeconomic models to overcome differences.
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting of Soviet and American soldiers on the Elbe River (April 25, 1945) President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the United States of America Donald Trump issued a Joint statement, which recognized the “Spirit of Elbe” as a good example of how both countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause. “The meeting on the Elbe represented a culmination of tremendous efforts by many countries and people that joined forces under the framework of the United Nations Declaration of 1942… We pay tribute to the valor and courage of all those who fought together to defeat fascism. Their heroic feat will never be forgotten”, - it reads.
The war losses of the USSR were the heaviest and terrifying – almost
27 million of Soviet people, including 8 million soldiers, fell in battles or were murdered by Nazi death-squads and their accomplices. Material damage was equally staggering: 1700 towns, 70,000 villages, 6 million houses, 98,000 farms, 32,000 factories, 82,000 schools, 43,000 libraries, 6,000 hospitals, and thousands of miles of roads and railways were destroyed. In total, the USSR lost 25% of its national wealth and 15% of its population as direct consequences of the war.
This Victory brought our world a new dawn, saving the entire nations from annihilation. In the aftermath, the UN was created laying the foundation for the post-war world order – a new architecture of international relations based on the ideal of equal cooperation between sovereign states and collective security.
The Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations contains calls “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors”. However, today we cannot but notice that xenophobia, racial discrimination and even neo-Nazism walk tall again in some countries. Being confident that such dangerous phenomenon shouldn’t be tolerated the Russian Federation together with other like-minded countries initiates annual UN General Assembly resolution on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism in all its forms, which was supported by the 133 UN Member States, including Singapore, in 2019.
This year, in conjunction with the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Russia was among the countries, which proposed the draft UN resolution inviting all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, NGOs and individuals to observe these days in an appropriate manner to pay homage to all victims of the WWII.
Since 75 years ago, Victory Day on May 9 became the most important nationwide annual celebration in Russia. On this memorable day, solemn processions and wreath laying at mass graves and monuments are held through the country, together with military parades, the Immortal Regiment march, concerts and firework displays.
It is very satisfying to see our civil initiative of the Immortal Regiment launched in 2012 gaining more grounds around the world. On May 9 millions of people, together with war veterans, in most of the Russian cities and many world capitals march through their streets carrying the portraits of their deceased relatives, who fought in the WWII. Hopefully one day we will see this Immortal Regiment on the streets of Singapore, which was a victim of foreign occupation and war crimes in 1942-1945.
This jubilee year was declared in Russia as the “Year of Remembrance and Honouring”. The Victory Day was supposed to be an enormous scale celebration with the world leaders invited to attend the Grand Parade on the Moscow’s Red Square. Unfortunately, due to the recent development of the pandemic, most of the events had to be postponed until later this year or continued in a virtual format. However, the Air Parade in Moscow and other Russian cities, as well as fireworks are still on the agenda of the celebrations.
There is no doubt that even staying on quarantine on May 9, each Russian family will be commemorating the Victory Day at home by remembering the feat of their ancestors. This memory is sacred to all Russian people.
Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory in the WWII is a good reason for all of us to emphasize once again the need to preserve the collective memory of the heroism of those who, by their unity and solidarity, industriousness and dedication, incredible love for the Fatherland, provided us with peace, freedom and independence. This is also a good reason to joint our common efforts in preserving global peace, stability and sustainable development, confronting the new challenges of the 21st century.