Victory Day (9 May)

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For the song, see Den Pobedy. For other uses, see V Day.
Victory Day
Victory Day Parade 2005-38.jpg
Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, 9 May 2005
Official name Russian: День Победы etc.[a 1]
Observed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Mongolia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (also celebrated/commemorated in some places of Germany and United Kingdom)
Date 9 May
Next time 9 May 2015 (2015-05-09)
Frequency annual

Victory Day[a 1] or 9 May marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the part of the Second World War known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War where the Soviet Union fought against Nazi Germany. It was first inaugurated in the sixteen[1] republics of the Soviet Union, following the signing of the surrender document late in the evening on 8 May 1945 (after midnight, thus on 9 May, by Moscow Time). The Soviet government announced the victory early on 9 May after the signing ceremony in Berlin.[2] Though the official inauguration happened in 1945 (which means it has been celebrated since 1946), the holiday became a non-labour day only in 1965 and only in some of the countries.

In the former Soviet Union this festival was celebrated to commemorate the Red Army's victory over the Nazi forces.

In communist East Germany, 8 May was officially known and celebrated as "Liberation Day" and was a public holiday between 1950 and 1966, and 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]

In 1988,[citation needed] before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Victory Day ceased to be observed in Uzbekistan, but was partially restored in 1999 as Memorial/Remembrance Day.[4] After regaining their independence from the Soviet Union, the Baltic countries now commemorate the end of World War II on 8 May, the Victory in Europe Day.[5] Although in Latvia there are still major celebrations held each year on 9th of May near the Victory Monument in Riga and in other cities as well, gathering veterans and people who are grateful for what they did, as well as featuring music and other live shows.[6] In 2014, after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Ukraine joined the Baltic states in commemorating the end of World War II and the Victory in Europe Day on 8 & 9 May[7] while in the Moscow Victory Day parade a unit garrisoned in the Hero City of Sevastopol paraded under the flag of the newly formed Republic of Crimea.[8]

Since the Capture of Shusha in 1992 by the Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh War, 9 May celebrations in Armenia as well as the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic have honored that victorious turning-point in the war in addition to the victory in World War II.


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

Two separate capitulation events took place at the time. First, the capitulation to the Allied nations in Reims was signed on 7 May 1945, effective 23:01 CET 8 May. This date is commonly referred to as the V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) in most western European countries. Joseph Stalin was later displeased by these events, believing that the German surrender should have been accepted only by the envoy of the USSR Supreme command and signed only in Berlin and insisted the Reims protocol be considered preliminary, with the main ceremony to be held in Berlin, where Marshal Zhukov was at the time, as the latter recounts in his memoirs:[9]

Therefore, another 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 submitted the capitulation of the Wehrmacht to Marshal Georgy Zhukov in the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. To commemorate the victory in the war, the ceremonial Moscow Victory Parade was held in the Soviet capital on 24 June 1945.

The other World War II victory day, the V-J day (Victory in Japan Day) is commemorated in August.


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 approximately between 1946 and 1950, it only became a non-labour day in Ukrainian (1963) and Russian (1965) SSRs. In the latter one, a weekday off (usually a Monday) was given starting 1966 if 9 May was to fall on a weekend (Saturday or Sunday).

Victory Day 2013 in Donetsk, Ukraine

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.[10]

In Russia during the 1990s the 9 May was not celebrated massively, because Soviet-style mass demonstrations did not fit in with the way in which liberals who were in power in Moscow communicated with the country’s residents. The situation changed when Vladimir Putin came to power. He started to promote the prestige of the governing regime and history, national holidays and commemorations all became a source for national self-esteem. Since then the Victory Day in Russia has increasingly been turning into a joyous celebration in which popular culture plays a great role. The celebration of the 60th anniversary of Victory Day in Russia in 2005 became the largest national and popular holiday since the collapse of the Soviet Union.[10]

Countries with a 9 May Celebration[edit]

2005 Victory Day parade on Moscow's Red Square.
"Victory Banner #5", raised on the roof of the Reichstag building

Russophone populations in many world countries celebrate the holiday regardless of its local status,[13] organize public gatherings and even parades on this day.[14] Some multilanguage broadcasting television chains translate the "Victory speech" of the Russian president and the parade on Red Square.[15]

Victory Day London[edit]

Victory Day London, 2011, HMS Belfast museum ship

Victory Day London is a ceremonial event held annually since 2007 in London on 9 May in commemoration of the victory in the Second World War and the Arctic Convoys 1941-1945. A ceremony is held aboard HMS Belfast which took part in the Arctic Convoys, moored on the Thames. The event serves as a reunion day for British and Russian veterans of the Arctic Convoys with members of the British Royal Family present. Other participants include Russian ambassador, ambassadors of other FSU countries, British and Russian dignitaries. From 2012, the event is expanded with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra,[16] accompanied by cannons salute from HMS Belfast and Jason Kouchak performing Dark Is the Night. The concert is held in Hay's Galleria and is free to the public.[17][18]

Soviet and post-Soviet symbols associated with the Victory Day[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

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
Medal for the 20th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Юбилейная медаль «Тридцать лет Победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.»
Medal for the 30th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Юбилейная медаль «Сорок лет победы в Великой Отечественной войне 1941–1945 гг.»
Medal for the 40th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 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 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 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
Stamp of USSR, 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!"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Russian: День Победы, Den' Pobedy; Ukrainian: День Перемоги, Den' Peremohy; Belarusian: Дзень Перамогі, Dzień Pieramohi; Kazakh: Жеңіс Күні, Jeñis Küni; Azerbaijani: Гәләбә ҝүнү; Georgian: გამარჯვების დღე; Lithuanian: Pergalės diena; Moldovan: Зиуа Викторией Victoriei; Latvian: Uzvaras diena; Tajik: Рӯзи Ғалаба; Estonian: Võidupäev; Tatar Cyrillic: Җиңү көне, Latin: Ciñü köne


  1. ^ There were sixteen republics in USSR on May 8, 1945. Karelo-Finnish SSR was abolished in 1956 only.
  2. ^ Ziemke Further readingCHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258 last 2 paragraphs
  3. ^ "Gesetz über Sonn- und Feiertage des Landes Mecklenburg-Vorpommern". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  4. ^ a b "Their memory lives on". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  5. ^ "8 May: Memorial Day for the victims of World War II". Estonian Embassy in Washington. Retrieved 7 August 2009. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b 5 канал: Україна відмовляється від "георгієвської стрічки" на користь "червоного маку" (Ukrainian)
  8. ^ "Victory Day parade on Moscow's Red Square 2014 (FULL VIDEO)". RT (TV network). 9 May 2014. 42 minutes. Retrieved 17 February 2015 – via YouTube. 
  9. ^ Zhukov, Georgy (2002). Memoirs (in Russian). Olma-Press. p. 329. 
  10. ^ a b Ločmele, K.; Procevska, O.; Zelče, V. (2011). "Celebrations, Commemorative Dates and Related Rituals: Soviet Experience, its Transformation and Contemporary Victory Day Celebrations in Russia and Latvia" (PDF). Muižnieks, N. (ed.). The Geopolitics of History in Latvian-Russian Relations. Riga: Academic Press of the University of Latvia. 
  11. ^ "Utvrđen Prijedlog zakona o praznicima BiH". Bosnia and Herzegovina Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office. 16 July 2009. 
  12. ^ Lviv Oblast, however, does not recognize Victory Day, but rather recognizes the day as a memorial to all wartime victims of both the Soviet and Nazi regimes, as well as all of those caught in between.
  13. ^ " Estonia: Local Russians Celebrate End Of World War II", Radio Liberty, 9 May 2007
  14. ^ 8.05.2005 · (2005-05-08). "Russian Orthodox Church in Toronto celebrates 9 May 2005". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  15. ^ "May 9 parade TV-event from Israel". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  16. ^ performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture on YouTube (Uploaded by Eugene Kasevin)
  17. ^ "Victory Day London 9 May ✰ День Победы Лондон 9 Мая - In memory of Arctic Convoys 1941-1945 ✰ В память Арктическим Конвоям 1941-1945 гг". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Kasevin, Eugene (4 May 2011). "Russian and British veterans will celebrate 9 May 2011 Victory Day on HMS Belfast in London". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 

External links[edit]