Victory Day

Today is Victory Day, a national holiday in Georgia and many former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. It commemorates the formal surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in Berlin in May 1945 and marks the end of the Great Patriotic War for the USSR, which lost around 25 million citizens in the four years of fighting.

A traditional ceremony of laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is held at Vake Park in Tbilisi. Similar events will be held throughout Georgia at the memorials to those killed in World War II.

Veterans and their families will gather to honor those killed in the war years and mark this day, which is one of the most important in their life.

Around 300,000 Georgians lost their lives in World War II.

There are around 1,300 Georgian war veterans still alive today.

One of the most iconic pictures signifying the end of the Great Patriotic War was taken by a Red Army photographer, Yevgeny Anan’evich Khaldei.

On 2 May 1945 Yevgeny Anan’evich Khaldei scaled the Reichstag building in Berlin to take the photograph of soldiers raising the hammer-and-sickle flag. Celebrated as the image is, it was a reconstruction of a moment that had happened several days before but had been missed by the cameras.

The official story was that two soldiers, Georgian Meliton Varlamovich Kantaria and the Russian Mikhail Yegorov, had raised the flag on April 30 but it was not until 2 May that all of the Germans that remained in the Reichstag finally surrendered and Khaldei was able to recreate the moment and take his photograph.

The photo represents a historic moment, the defeat of Nazi Germany in a war that cost tens of millions of lives, including the lives of around 300,000 Georgians.

12 thoughts on “Victory Day

  1. We have those here for WW1 &WWII a day to honor all the people whose lost their lives helping keep our country free. We have ceremonies, gun salutes, flowers on tomb of unknown soldiers. And many flowers from family on tombs of dead soldiers. Those are days never to forget how hard we worked and how many we lost to keep us free 🙂

  2. A sad but dignified day. I was reading about Tbilisi and my birthday is on the day of the Hundred Thousand Martyrs of Tbilisi.

  3. The photo of the Russian soldier raising the flag was very interesting…my father was stationed in Berlin immediately after the surrender, but never talked about his experiences.

  4. THis is one of the greatest of all photos! What a ending to the most horrific war in the history of the world! Did you know that when the USSR launched the final offensive to move towards Berlin that they fired so many artillery pieces at one time that it changed the barometric pressure, changed the wind from west to east and changed the weather? Also, the energy produced made light bulbs and car lights glow that were 20 miles away and had no power to them!

    What the Nazis did to the USSR and to others was horrific. We cheer the anniversary of VE day and salute the brave men and women who did fighting these monsters….

    the collies and chuck 🙂

    • I didn’t know that Chuck. The fact that light bulbs and car lights glowed is incredible. It must have been a hellish experience to have been part of that onslaught.

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