May 21, 2022

The Significance of Russia’s 9 May Victory Day

5 min read
Victory Day

It is a day to remember the end of World War II when the United States defeated the Nazis. Following the late-night signing of the German Instrument of Surrender on May 8th, 1945, it was officially established in the Soviet Union’s 15[1] republics. after midnight, thus on 9 May Moscow Time). As a result of the signing ceremony in Berlin on May 8, the Soviet administration made an early announcement of victory. Even though it was officially inaugurated in 1945, it was only in 1965 that the holiday was declared a non-labor day in several Soviet republics.

8 May was honored as Liberation Day in East Germany from 1950 through 1966 and again on the 40th anniversary of the event in 1985. “Victory Day” was commemorated on May 8th in the Soviet manner in 1967. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a German state, has held a remembrance event since 2002 called the Day of Liberation from Nazism and the End of WWII.

Since the Russian Federation was established in 1991, 9 May has been a non-working holiday, even if it falls on a weekend (in which case any following Monday will be a non-working holiday). As part of the Soviet Union, the holiday was also observed there. Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), 8 May, is celebrated in several European countries as a national remembrance or victory day.

History of Victory Day

There were two signings of the German Instrument of Surrender. As part of the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF), Walter Bedell Smith and Ivan Susloparov signed an initial document at Reims, France, on May 7, 1945. The paper was witnessed by French Major-General François Tevez, who was the official witness.

victory day may 9

The USSR requested that a revised instrument of surrender be signed in Berlin since the Soviet High Command had not agreed to the content of the surrender and because Susloparov, a relatively low-ranking commander, was not authorized to sign this document. In response to Stalin’s declaration that the Soviet Union regarded the surrender of Reims as a preliminary document, Dwight D. Eisenhower backed him up. It was also said that some German troops thought that they had surrendered in Reims, but that fighting continued in the Eastern part of Germany and Prague.

The time difference between Berlin and Moscow caused a second surrender ceremony to be held on the evening of May 8th, when it was actually May 9th in Moscow. On behalf of the Red Army’s Supreme High Command and the Allies’ Expeditionary Force, Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, head of the OKW, signed a final Instrument of Surrender, which was witnessed by General Carl Spaatz and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. On behalf of the Allies, Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder signed the document. During the signing ceremony, which took place at Berlin-Soviet Karlshorst’s Army headquarters, There were both English and Russian translations of the agreement to surrender signed in Berlin.

To ensure that all German military troops were completely disarmed and handed over their weapons to Allied military leaders, the revised Berlin language differed from the preliminary document signed in Reims.

At 23:01 CET on May 8th, 1945, both the Reims and Berlin documents of surrender required that German forces under their authority would halt active combat activities. As a result of this time difference, the conclusion of the conflict is marked on 9 May in the USSR and most post-Soviet countries.

Celebrations in Russia

9 May was a national holiday in the Soviet Union and other nations in the Eastern Bloc during the Soviet Union’s time. The holiday was adopted in numerous Soviet republics between 1946 and 1950, but only became a non-labor day in the Ukrainian SSR and the Russian SFSR in 1963 and 1965, respectively.  The Russian SFSR gave a Monday off if 9 May fell on a Saturday or Sunday.

victory-day-in-russia

In succeeding years, Victory Day was celebrated. The conflict was a hot topic in popular culture, including in movies, books, history classes, and other forms of mass communication. Ritual components such as ceremonial assemblies and speeches were added to the event over time to give it a particular character.

Governments of successive Russian regimes made it impossible for big Soviet-style mass demonstrations to take place on 9 May in Russia during this time period. Honoring the country and its history became a source of pride following Vladimir Putin’s ascension to the Russian presidency, which led to an increase in national celebrations. Russian Victory Day has evolved into a celebration of popular culture, with a strong emphasis on television and movies. Russians celebrated Victory Day in record numbers on the 60th and 70th anniversaries of the victory of the Red Army over the Nazis in 2005 and 2015, respectively.

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Observances at landmarks

At the national war memorial, which is usually dedicated to a single war victory, members of government typically participate in a wreath-laying ceremony. Memorials such as Moscow’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Odessa’s Monument to Unknown Sailors, and Odessa’s Monument to Hazi Aslanov are frequent sites for wreath-layings (Baku).

victory-day-Observances-at-landmarks

9 May, despite the fact that Latvia does not recognize it as a national holiday, the large Russian community in Riga informally commemorates the day, with visits made to the Victory Memorial to the Soviet Army being commonplace, with some diplomatic and political figures (such as the ambassadors of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus) also participating.

Days of Remembrance for people of faith

He wrote The Easter joy of Christ’s resurrection is now joined with the bright hope of an imminent victory for truth and light over the deceit and darkness of German fascism, which is being crushed in front of our eyes by our heroic men and those of our allies. Christian light and power defeated the dark powers of fascism, allowing God to show his authority over the illusory power of man.

victory day Days of Remembrance for people of faith

Observance of the dead in Russia’s Orthodox Church is limited to one specific date, which is the 26th of April (Old Style, or O.S.; 9 May, or N.S. All Orthodox churches and monasteries hold a memorial ceremony for deceased soldiers after the liturgy. It was decided by the Russian Orthodox Bishops’ Council in 1994 to hold an annual remembrance on Victory Day in honor of all those who lost their lives in the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945) while defending their faith, country, and people.  Russia’s Orthodox Church held a “prayer service in memory of the deliverance of our people” from a “terrible, lethal adversary, from a threat our Fatherland has not known in all history” on the eve of the 65th anniversary in 2010. It was the patriarch’s intention to use the prayer written by Philaret Drozdov in commemoration of the victory of the Imperial Russian Army over the French Grande Armée in the Napoleonic Wars as the basis for this liturgy. The completion of the Russian Armed Forces’ Main Cathedral was scheduled for Victory Day in 2020.