Victory Day celebration on Red Square: preparations

If you’ve never been, you must go. The annual Victory Day celebration of victory over the Germans from 1941 to 1945 is the second most visible holiday in all of Russia, save for the festivities surrounding the ringing in of the New Year in January.

German prisoners of war were paraded on Red Square in Moscow, 24 June 1945, just a month after the war had ended.

The Victory Day parade and associated festivities are part of the once-a-year celebration that Russia has transformed into a historic landmark as well as a display of modern military might. The war ended Sixty-seven years ago but during that time almost 30 million citizens perished in that tragic struggle against the invading Nazi war machine.

Adolf Hitler had built Germany into one of the strongest armies the world had ever faced and it took a joint effort by the Allies to beat back the Nazi threat. Of all the Allies, Russia suffered the most lives lost during World War II, and a great sense of gratitude still flows through Russia. Not a single Soviet family was untouched by the death and suffering and so each year the Victory Day Parade, held in Moscow and many other cities across the former Soviet Union, is a solemn but victorious event that reminds Russians of the common ties to each other and to the Motherland.

In prior years Russia has used the parade to showcase her modern-day military with the biggest machines and latest technology on display, a reminder to both the Russian people and to everyone else in the world that Russia means business when it comes to her security and defense.

Last year President Medvedev invited the Allies to participate and for the first time since the war ended in 1945, troops from the UK, France, and the USA marched alongside Russian troops at Moscow’s most famous landmark, Red Square.

Rehearsals of the military parade to mark the 67th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War have been underway in a Moscow suburb since January and this past Monday columns of 14,000 soldiers and over 100 pieces of military hardware were paraded near the centre of Moscow and onto Red Square in a night rehearsal.

Night rehearsal for Victory parade, Moscow.

Two more rehearsals remain this week, one scheduled for night and then a full-dress rehearsal by day.

Russians celebrate Victory Day on 9 May each year with some festivities beginning on 8 May such as the ceremonial lighting and laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers just outside Red Square.

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