Victory Day (9 May)

Victory Day
Victory Day Parade 2005-36.jpg
Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, 9 May 2005
Official name Russian: День Победы etc.[a 1]
Observed by Russia, most former Soviet states, Serbia, Israel and former member states of the Warsaw Pact/Comecon
Date 9 May
Next time 9 May 2020 (2020-05-09)
Frequency Annual

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

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

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

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.[11] 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.[12] 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:

  • 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.

Russophone populations in many countries celebrate the holiday regardless of its local status,[27] organize public gatherings and even parades on this day.[28] 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.[29]

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

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

Awards

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"
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
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
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
אות הלוחם בנאצים
Fighters against Nazis Medal

Gallery of the Celebrations

See also

Copyright