Victory Day trivia:
Q: When was was the biggest Victory Day celebration in Moscow history?
A: 2010 was the 65th anniversary and included marching troops from the USA, United Kingdom, France and several other Allies, a first.
Q: In what year did NATO and Russian navies share in patrolling the Baltic waters? During joint exercises, American, French, British and Russian warships repelled air and sea attacks and put their anti-missile defenses to test. After the exercises were completed that June 30th, the fleets sailed into St. Petersburg for a official review and the chance for NATO sailors to drink beer in a Russian port.
Q: In which USA presidential election did a certain party’s convention staffers display on giant screens a Russian Navy flotilla while honouring American troops and playing of the national anthem?
A: 2012, the Democratic convention for the re-election of President Barack Obama. Convention officials later apologized. The young staffers responsible for the display didn’t know the difference between US and Russian Navy ships and displayed scenes of the Russian Navy on the Black Sea, thinking them to be American ships. Ah, they do fly flags…
Q: What did German soldiers call the Russian infantrymen?
A: Ivans. Let’s hope they at least pronounced it correctly….”E-vahn” instead of the common mistake of “I-van.”
Q: Who is the most controversial personality surrounding the annual Victory Day celebrations?
A: Look up, there’s your sign. None other than Иосиф Виссарионович Джугашвили (Iosof Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili), more commonly known as Joseph Stalin.
Q: What was “tushonka” to Russian infantrymen?
A: The canned greasy meat ration tushonka was called “mystery meat” by soldiers. Some canned rations were from the USA and was a mush of spam, potatoes and corn. Stalin ordered it re-labeled before it could be sent to the field and most soldiers preferred it to the “tushonka” from Russian production which was a mixture of pork, beef, and horse. Soldiers were allotted 900 calories daily.
(Medical Sisters = Nurses)
Q: Who was Zoya Kosmodemyansky?
A: Zoya Kosmodemvansky was the first woman partisan to receive Russia’s highest award, Hero of the Soviet Union. She is the most famous Russian partisan to have received the award posthumously because she was captured by the Germans and hanged. Her brother, Alexander Kosmodemyansky (1925-45) was also made a Hero of the Soviet Union.
Q: Is it true that the Red Army used suicide dogs to bomb German tanks?
A: Yes, the Soviets tried to train dogs to destroy enemy tanks. Fitted with explosives under their bellies, the dogs were trained to crawl under a tank. The device would be triggered by timer and so much for the tank…and the dog. You only got one chance to get it right and unfortunately the dogs had been trained using Soviet tanks so you can guess where they tried to run first. Although the dog bomb idea wasn’t a complete success, in the battles for Kursk and Stalingrad bomb dogs were credited with around 25 kills of German tanks.
(Red Army pilot Ivan Kozhedub was credited with 62 kills.)
Q: What was the longest battle of the Great Patriotic War (WWII)?
A: The Siege of Leningrad began on 8 September 1941 and lasted until 27 January 1944, a total of 872 days. Given that the Leningrad leadership had been in power so long without daily contact with Moscow, Stalin feared they would be too independent after the war so he transferred key leaders into temporary positions in Moscow where most were eventually shot.
Q: Who was the young ace Russian lady pilot known by the radio call sign “White Lily” and shot down and killed over the Ukrainian village of Kozhevnya before the end of the war?
A: Lilia Litvyak, her story is told in the book “Call Sign White Lily” by Matthew Crisci.
(Shameless plug for my friend Matthew who authored a very fine book about Lily.)