Levitan on a 2016 Russian stamp
|Died||4 August 1983 (aged 68)|
Yuri Borisovich Levitan (Russian: Юрий Борисович Левитан, 2 October 1914 – 4 August 1983) was the primary Soviet radio announcer during and after World War II. He announced on Radio Moscow all major international events in the 1940s–60s including the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the surrender of Germany on 9 May 1945, the death of Joseph Stalin on 5 March 1953, and the first manned spaceflight on 12 April 1961.
Levitan was born to a Jewish family in Vladimir to a tailor and a housewife. In the early 1930s he traveled to Moscow hoping to become an actor, but was rejected because of his provincial accent. However, he secured a position on a Moscow radio station owing to his characteristic deep voice. In January 1934, after hearing his broadcast, Joseph Stalin called up the radio station and requested that from then on Levitan read his announcements. Consequently, Levitan became not only the personal announcer for Stalin, but the leading Soviet radio personality.
After the German invasion in 1941 Levitan was evacuated to Sverdlovsk, because Moscow radio stations were taken down to avoid German bombardment. At the time, he lived in a secret location due to his importance as the nation's foremost radio personality. In March 1943, he was secretly transported to Kuybyshev, where the Soviet radio committee met. During all those years away from Moscow, his reports began with his trademark "Attention, this is Moscow speaking!" (Russian: Внимание, говорит Москва!) Levitan made some 2000 radio announcements during the war; he recorded recreations of many of them in the 1950s, when he reproduced them in studio for archiving purposes.
After the war, Levitan reported on events on Red Square and state proclamations. Between 1978 and 1983, he announced the annual "Minute of Silence" to commemorate the Victory Day in the Soviet Union. In 1980, he was awarded the title of People's Artist of the USSR. He died from a heart attack in 1983, and was buried in the famed Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.
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- Belenitskaya, Olga (16 April 2015). "Moscow is speaking: The voice that brought hope to a nation". Russia Behind the Headlines. Retrieved 6 May 2015.