How Soviet WWII veterans celebrated Victory Day (PHOTOS)

Valery Shchekoldin/MAMM/MDF/
In the USSR, May 9 was always celebrated as Victory Day against Nazi Germany. In the years following the war, on this day, veterans used to gather and recall those difficult and harrowing days of fighting in defense of the country.

In Soviet times, as strange as this might sound, Victory Day was first and foremost a day of sorrow. There usually was only a small parade of veterans on Red Square, while in other locations, those who fought in the war gathered privately among themselves. They recalled their fellow soldiers who died fighting and placed flowers on their graves. They might hold a minute of silence, and cry and whisper ‘Never again’.

War veteran Dmitry Kudashev holds a war-era photo featuring him entering liberated Belgrade in September 1945 (photo - 1965)

A nurse attends Red Square celebrations (1968)

Meeting of World War II veterans near the Central Museum of Armed Forces of the USSR in Moscow (1970)

Pilots meet May 9, 1970 on the square in front of the Bolshoi Theater

A woman attends a veterans’ parade on Red Square dressed in her old uniform (1971)

Waltz to the old war songs (1970s)

Some veterans who couldn’t attend the celebrations put on their medals at home, and went through photo albums, telling children and grandchildren about those times (1970s)

Regimental buddies meet at the Heroic Brest Fortress memorial complex, 1972

A war veteran meets with Soviet pioneers (1970s)

Writer Konstantin Simonov (in the middle) poses with war correspondents and veterans (1975)

Emotions (1976)

Participants of the Battle of Stalingrad gathered at a local school (1977)

‘It was once in May’. A veteran in Kazan, the Tatarstan Republic (1977)

Women could wear their uniform, or just dress up and put on all their medals (1977)

A female veteran in Moscow (1977)

Meeting near the Bolshoi Theater (1978)

A long-awaited meeting of those who stood shoulder to shoulder and helped each other (1978)

Victory Day in Moscow. After the war many people were without arms and/or legs (1979)

Veterans used to wear all of their many orders and medals (1979)

Veterans chatted with bypassers, kids and students, answering questions, but they didn’t much like to talk about the horrors of war, only about the courage of their fellow soldiers (1979)

Veterans attending a Victory Day celebration at the central stadium of the city of Chelyabinsk (1980)

Giving flowers to veterans was always a good tradition (1982)

Veterans and others head to the Victory Day celebration in Moscow’s Gorky Park (1983)

“Where are you, my brothers in arms?” A veteran holds a poster with his division title (1983)

“There is still powder in the flasks”, a quote from Nikolai Gogol’s novel Taras Bulba is now a common phrase meaning that one is still brave and strong enough and can do anything, even dance in his venerable age (1983)

Recalling army songs… (1983)

… and the bygone days (1983)

The tradition of big concerts and festivities in order to celebrate Victory Day only began in the 1980s (photo - 1983)

Taking a rest after the official ceremonies on Red Square (1985)

Three generations: During celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Victory in 1995

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