Mamayev Kurgan – The Motherland Calls! – Stalingrad

Mamayev Kurgan - 03

Mamayev Kurgan – 03

More on the USSR

Mamayev Kurgan – The Motherland Calls! – Stalingrad

Mamayev Kurgan is the hillside complex commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad in the Great Patriotic War where the huge statue The Motherland Calls! is located.

Mamayev Kurgan (Russian: Мама́ев курга́н) is a dominant height overlooking the city of Stalingrad (Volgograd) in Southern Russia. The name in Russian means ‘tumulus of Mamai’. The formation is dominated by a memorial complex commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad (August 1942 to February 1943). The battle, a hard-fought Soviet victory over Axis (Nazi) forces on the Eastern Front of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), turned into one of the bloodiest battles in human history. At the time of its installation in 1967 the statue, named The Motherland Calls, formed the largest free-standing sculpture in the world.

Mamayev Kurgan - 10

Mamayev Kurgan – 10

The Battle of Stalingrad

When forces of the German Sixth Army launched their attack against the city centre of Stalingrad on 13 September 1942, Mamayev Kurgan (appearing in military maps as ‘Height 102.0’) saw particularly fierce fighting between the German attackers and the defending soldiers of the Soviet 62nd Army. Control of the hill became vitally important, as it offered control over the city. To defend it, the Soviets had built strong defensive lines on the slopes of the hill, composed of trenches, barbed-wire and minefields. The Germans pushed forward against the hill, taking heavy casualties. When they finally captured the hill, they started firing on the city centre, as well as on the city’s main railway station under the hill. They captured the Volgograd railway station on 14 September 1942.

On the same day, the Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division commanded by Alexander Rodimtsev arrived in the city from the east side of the river Volga under heavy German artillery fire. The division’s 10,000 men immediately rushed into the battle. On 16 September they recaptured Mamayev Kurgan and kept fighting for the railway station, taking heavy losses. By the following day, almost all of them had died. The Soviets kept reinforcing their units in the city as fast as they could. The Germans assaulted up to twelve times a day, and the Soviets would respond with fierce counter-attacks.

The hill changed hands several times. By September 27, the Germans again captured half of Mamayev Kurgan. The Soviets held their own positions on the slopes of the hill, as the 284th Rifle Division defended the key stronghold. The defenders held out until January 26 1943, when the counterattacking Soviet forces relieved them. The battle of the city ended one week later with an utter German defeat.

When the battle ended, the soil on the hill had been so thoroughly churned by shellfire and mixed with metal fragments that it contained between 500 and 1,250 splinters of metal per square meter. The earth on the hill had remained black in the winter, as the snow kept melting in the many fires and explosions. In the following spring the hill would still remain black, as no grass grew on its scorched soil. The hill’s formerly steep slopes had become flattened in months of intense shelling and bombardment. Even today, it is possible to find fragments of bone and metal still buried deep throughout the hill.

Memorial Complex

After the war, the Soviet authorities commissioned the enormous Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex. Vasily Chuikov, who led Soviet forces at Stalingrad, lies buried at Mamayev Kurgan; this makes him the only Marshal of the Soviet Union to be buried outside Moscow. 34,505 soldiers who were defenders of Stalingrad are buried there; sniper Vasily Zaytsev was also reburied there, in 2006.

Avenue of Poplars; Stand To the Death!

Mamayev Kurgan - 11

Mamayev Kurgan – 11

Mamayev Kurgan is accessible by a flight of stairs leading to the Avenue of Poplars, flanked on either side by poplar trees. From there, a second flight of steps leads to the statue of a muscular and shirtless Russian soldier. This statue, named Stand To the Death!, is carved from rock and surrounded by a large pool of water; it bears the inscription …And not a step back!

Symbolic Ruined Walls; Square of Heroes

Mamayev Kurgan - 04

Mamayev Kurgan – 04

From Stand To the Death!, a third flight of stairs leads between the Symbolic Ruined Walls; these represent the ruins of Stalingrad, while immortalizing the Soviet heroes who defended the city. Carved into the walls are faces of numerous soldiers, their eyes closed to indicate death in battle. Also inscribed on the walls are numerous quotes from actual defenders of Stalingrad; these words were originally carved, by the soldiers themselves, upon the sides of various ruined buildings throughout the city.

Atop the steps, past the walls, is the Square of Heroes; this is dominated by another large pool of water. On one side of the pool is a wall bearing this inscription: ‘With an iron wind blowing straight into their faces, they were still marching forward; and fear seized the enemy. Were these people who were attacking? Were they even mortal at all?’ On the other side of the pool are six sculptures, the first of which bears the inscription: ‘We’ve stood out and defeated death’. The second and third sculptures commemorate military nurses and, respectively, marines. The fourth sculpture is dedicated to the officers who led the battle to protect Stalingrad. The fifth sculpture tells the story of ‘Saving the Banner’. The sixth sculpture commemorates the eventual triumph of the Russian army over the Germans.

Hall of Military Glory

Mamayev Kurgan - 08

Mamayev Kurgan – 08

Past the Square of Heroes is the Hall of Military Glory, whose outer façade is decorated with Russian artwork of Soviet soldiers celebrating the war’s end…and with the inscription ‘Our people will keep alive their memory of the greatest battle in the history of warfare, within the walls of Stalingrad’.

An indoor flight of stairs leads to the Hall’s circular main chamber; at the chamber’s centre is the Eternal Flame, a large sculpture of a hand holding a torch. The Eternal Flame is constantly under armed guard, which is changed every hour. The main chamber is considered sacred ground, with mournful music being played on a loop; out of respect, visitors are strongly discouraged from speaking aloud. The chamber’s walls are covered in glass-foil mosaics; these bear the names of 7,200 Russian soldiers who died in the battle for Stalingrad. Around the ceiling of the chamber is the following inscription: ‘…Yes, we were mere mortals, and few of us survived (the German siege). But we all fulfilled our patriotic duty to our sacred Motherland’.

Mother’s Sorrow

Mamayev Kurgan - 07

Mamayev Kurgan – 07

The hall’s upper exit leads to the base of a pathway, which in turn zigzags uphill to the Motherland is Calling! statue itself. Also at the hill’s base is a third shallow pool, this one surrounding a stone monument named Mother’s Sorrow.

The hill itself is an unmarked grave for over 34,500 Russian troops killed at Stalingrad; even this is a tiny percentage of the overall Soviet casualties from the battle. The grass on the hill is considered sacred, and visitors are forbidden to step on it. The top of the hill gives a panoramic view of the city of Stalingrad (Volgograd).

Mamayev Kurgan is open to the public 24 hours a day, and there is no charge for admission.


The monumental memorial was constructed between 1959 and 1967, and is crowned by a huge allegorical statue of the Motherland on the top of the hill. The monument, designed by Yevgeny Vuchetich, has the full name The Motherland Calls! (Russian: Родина-мать зовёт! Rodina Mat Zovyot!). It consists of a concrete sculpture, 52 meters tall, and 85 meters from the feet to the tip of the 27-meters sword, dominating the skyline of the city of Stalingrad (later renamed Volgograd).

The construction uses concrete, except for the stainless-steel blade of the sword, and is held on its plinth solely by its own weight. The statue is evocative of classical Greek representations of Nike, in particular the flowing drapery, similar to that of the Nike of Samothrace.

The above text from Wikipedia.

‘The Motherland Calls’, Volgograd

Mamayev Kurgan - 01

Mamayev Kurgan – 01

Mamayev Kurgan is not the site of a single monument, but of a complex of monuments, each more gigantic than the last. … At the foot of the hill stands a huge sculpture of a bare-chested man clutching a machine gun in one hand and a grenade in the other. He seems to rise out of the very rock, torso rippling, as tall as a three-storey building. Beyond him, on either side of the steps that lead to the summit, are relief sculptures of giant soldiers springing out of the ruined walls as if in the midst of battle. Farther up the hill is the gigantic figure of a grieving mother, more than twice the size of my house. She is hunched over the body of her dead son, sobbing into a large pool of water, called the ‘Lake of Tears:

The dozens of statues arranged in this park are all giants: not one of them is under six metres (20 feet) tall, and some of them depict heroes three or four times that size. And yet they are dwarfed by the single statue that rises above them all, on the summit of the hill. Here, overlooking the Volga, stands a colossal representation of Mother Russia beckoning to her children to come and fight for her. Her mouth is open in battle cry, her hair and dress fluttering in the wind; and in her right hand she holds a vast sword pointing up into the sky. From her feet to the tip of her sword she stands 85 metres (280 feet) high. She is nearly twice as tall, and forty times as heavy, as the Statue of Liberty in New York City. When she was first unveiled in 1967, she was the largest statue in the world.

This memorial, entitled ‘The Motherland Calls!; is one of Russia’s most iconic statues. It was the creation of Soviet sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich, who spent years designing and building it. It contains around 2,500 metric tonnes of metal and 5,500 tonnes of concrete. The sword alone weighs 14 tonnes. So huge was the statue that Vuchetich was obliged to collaborate with a structural engineer, Nikolai Nikitin, to ensure that it did not collapse under its own weight. Holes had to be drilled into the sword to reduce the threat of the wind catching it and causing the whole structure to sway.

Mamayev Kurgan - 09

Mamayev Kurgan – 09

Were this monument in Italy or France it would appear absurdly grandiose, but here on the banks of the Volga, in the city that was once called Stalingrad, it feels quietly appropriate. The battle that took place here in 1942 dwarfs anything that happened in the West. It began with the greatest German bombardment of the war, and progressed with attacks and counterattacks by more than a dozen entire armies. Within the city itself, soldiers fought from street to street, and even from room to room, in a landscape of shattered houses. Over the course of five months around two million men lost their lives, their health or their liberty. The combined casualties of this one battle were greater than the casualties that Britain and America together suffered during the whole of the war.

As one stands on the summit of Mamayev Kurgan in the shadow of the gigantic statue of the Motherland, one can feel the weight of all this history. … for many Russians this place is sacred. The word ‘Kurgan’ in Russian means a tumulus or burial mound. The hill is an ancient site dedicated to a fourteenth-century warlord, but in the wake of the greatest battle of the greatest war in history, it carries a new symbolism. This place was one of the major battlegrounds of 1942, and an unknown number of soldiers and civilians are buried here. Even today, when walking on the hill, it is possible to find fragments of metal and bone buried in the soil. The Motherland statue stands, both figuratively and literally, upon a mountain of corpses.

Mamayev Kurgan - 05

Mamayev Kurgan – 05

The scale of the war in Russia is one reason why the monuments on Mamayev Kurgan are so huge, but it is not the only reason – in fact, it is not even the main reason. The statues of muscular heroes and weeping mothers might be huge, but it is the giantess on the summit of the hill that dominates them all. It is important to remember that this is a representation not of the war, but of the Motherland. Its message is simple: no matter how great the battle, and no matter how great the enemy, the Motherland is greater still. Her colossal size is supposed to be a comfort to the struggling soldiers and weeping mothers, a reminder that for all their sacrifice, they are at least a part of something powerful and magnificent. This is the true meaning of Mamayev Kurgan.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the people of the Soviet Union had little to console them. Not only were they traumatised by loss, but they also faced an uncertain future. Russians did not benefit economically from the war as the Americans did: the violence had left their economy in ruins. …

Mamayev Kurgan - 12

Mamayev Kurgan – 12

The only consolation offered to Russian and other Soviet people was that their country had proven itself at last to be a truly great nation. In 1945, the USSR possessed the largest army the world has ever seen. It dominated not only the vast Eurasian land mass, but also the Baltic and the Black Sea. The Second World War had not only restored the country’s borders, but extended them, both to the west and to the east, and Soviet influence now stretched deep into the heart of Europe. Before the war, the Soviet Union had been a second rate power, weakened by internal upheaval. After the war, it was a superpower.

The Motherland statue on Mamayev Kurgan was designed to be proof of all this. It was built in the 1960s, when the USSR was at the height of its strength. It stood as a warning to anyone who dared attack the Soviet Union, but also as a symbol of reassurance to the Soviet people. The giant, it declared, would always protect them.

Mamayev Kurgan - 06

Mamayev Kurgan – 06

For the Russian citizens who first stood on the summit of this hill with the Motherland statue at their backs, the vistas looked endless. Everything to the west of them for a thousand miles was Soviet territory. To the east they could travel through nine time zones without once leaving their country. Even the heavens seemed to belong to them: the first man in space was a Russian, and the first woman too. It is impossible to look up at the Motherland statue without also gazing beyond, to the endless skies above her.

From; Prisoners of history – what monuments to the Second World War tell us about our history and ourselves, Keith Lowe, William Collins, London, 2020, pp6-9.

Memory of Generations

Mamayev Kurgan - 02

Mamayev Kurgan – 02

Located in the entrance square, to the right of the steps which lead up to the monument, is another large sculpture called ‘Memory of Generations’. This depicts Stalingraders arriving to visit the monument, carrying flowers and a large wreath, and the images represent both pride and sorrow at the sacrifice of the defenders of the city.

Marshal Zhukov’s memoirs of The Battle of Stalingrad.


Stalingrad (Volgograd) Railway Station

Children and crocodile fountain – Railway station square

Designed by;

Yevgeny Vuchetich, Yakov Belopolsky and Nikolai Nikitin.


15 October 1967


Just over 3 kilometres north-west of the city centre, opposite the Volgograd Arena.




How to get there;

Buses heading north-west along VI Lenin Avenue pass by the base of the steps to the monument. Also the Metro has a stop at Mamayev Kurgan.

Opening times;

It is never closed.

More on the USSR

Park Pobeda – Victory Park, Moscow

Museum of the Great Patriotic War

Museum of the Great Patriotic War

More on the USSR

Park Pobeda – Victory Park, Moscow

‘Trophies of the Russian Army’ and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War

‘Trophies of the Russian Army’

On May 1st 2024 a temporary exhibition was open at Park Pobeda (Victory Park) in Moscow. This was entitled ‘Trophies of the Russian Army’ and consisted of vehicles of various types and other war equipment captured by the Russian Army in the Ukraine. The main body of the exhibition was a variety of armoured vehicles – tanks, armoured personnel vehicles (APVs), and other forms of transportation, from various countries in the NATO alliance against Russia and its Special Military Operation in the Ukraine.

As has been documented on this blog on the page The war in the Ukraine – what you are not told, many of these weapons were introduced onto the battle field as ‘game changers’ – weapons that would be so powerful (as they were produced in the ‘west’ and hence superior to anything that could be produced in Russia) that they would just steam roller over any Russian defences and thereby assist in the Ukrainians recovering territory lost to the Russian Army since February 2022.

However, things did not go to plan.

German Leopard Tank

German Leopard Tank

Although there has been a blame game going on between the Ukraine and the NATO commanders (and politicians) what has been obvious is that the west believed too much in their own propaganda and came a cropper due to their own hubris. Whereas the military-industrial complex in the various NATO countries were hoping that the overwhelming victory their equipment would deliver against the Russians would be the finest advert possible to sell their wares in other parts of the world, it merely showed that western military equipment is too complicated; which means it takes too long to make in vast numbers and hence not ideal in a conflict of attrition (which the war in the Ukraine has become); and far too expensive.

However, instead of participating in victory parades the US Abrams and German Leopard tanks were filmed burning on the steppes of the Ukraine. The UK Challenger 2 tanks, once one or two had been destroyed, just ran away and acted as artillery far from the front – where such main battle tanks are designed to operate. An Abrams and a Leopard were on display in the exhibition.

American Abrams Tank

American Abrams Tank

In a covered enclosure there were also on display communication and GPS equipment, drones, mortars, small arms and other kinds of small military equipment.

I understood the original plan was for this to be a short term exhibition, finishing the weekend after Victory Day which was celebrated on May 9th. However, the exhibition attracted streams of Moscovites and there was a constant flow of people (many thousands in a day) so it was decided to extend the display.

For how long I have no idea and don’t know if there are plans to place some of this material in a permanent exhibition somewhere in Moscow or another major city. The plan might be, as far as I’m concerned, to take this exhibition around to other major Russian cities.

Hopefully, the slide show below will provide a flavour of what was on display for those who are unable to attend in person.

The Museum of the Great Patriotic War

This is a huge building which is approached by a wide avenue which commemorates the major battle fields in the war against the invading German Nazis and their accomplices in crime. It was opened in 1995 and I don’t understand why such a museum hadn’t been constructed decades before. Being constructed in a time of open capitalist control of the society the decoration inside or outside of the building owes nothing to Socialist Realist ideas.

In fact, it’s not really appropriate to call it a museum as it is more of a shrine and memorial to those who were killed in the Great Patriotic War and a place of ‘pilgrimage’ for military associated groups to come and pay respects.

Museum of the Great Patriotic War - 02

Museum of the Great Patriotic War – 02

There’s very little in terms of artefacts (as, for example, you will find in the Battle of Stalingrad Museum in Volgograd) and the vast space is not used, as far as I’m concerned, in an appropriate way to tell the story of some of the most significant battles of the Second World War. I think this is probably the result of the schizophrenic approach the present ‘rulers’ have towards the war against the Nazis. They recognise that it as a Socialist Red Army that defeated the attacking Germans but they don’t want to give (or didn’t in the 1990s) too much prominence to that fact. With the conflict with NATO – through its proxy of the Ukraine – thinking has changed and that was the reason you saw so much reference to Soviet symbolism in the posters and imagery in the build up to May 9th, Victory Day, 2024.

Museum of the Great Patriotic War - 01

Museum of the Great Patriotic War – 01

Also, very strangely for a ‘museum’ there was a room with references to the Special Military Operation in the Ukraine. This was in the form of portraits and photographs of soldiers on active duty. There was also a sculpture of a platoon moving forward on a battle front. I can see why this room was created, the war in the Ukraine is one of propaganda as well as what happens in the field, but placing such a room in a museum which commemorates battles on a much bigger scale where the forces concerned were not only hugely greater in number but also much more fiercely fought seems, to me, to detract from the importance and sacrifice of the war between 1941 and 1945.

Museum of the Great Patriotic War - 03

Museum of the Great Patriotic War – 03

In the slide show there are a few pictures which will, hopefully, give an impression of what the ‘museum’ is all about.

On my visit I didn’t make it to the Museum of the Main Weapons Relics of the Army, which might have been a shame. Entrance for that also costs 300 rouble.


10 Brothers Fonchenko Street

How to get there;

The Park Pobeda Metro station is right at the entrance to the park. It’s west of the city centre on Line No 3, the dark blue line.




Opening times;

Wednesday-Sunday, 10.00 – 22.00

Tuesday, 13.00 – 22.00

Monday, closed


300 rouble.


More on the USSR

May 9th 1945 – Victory Day in the Soviet Union (Russia)

The triumph of the Conquering People - Mikhail Khmelko

The triumph of the Conquering People

More on the ‘Revolutionary Year’

More on the USSR

May 9th – Victory Day in the Soviet Union (Russia)

Whilst much of western Europe commemorate May 8th as the official end of the Second World War in the Soviet Union the date for the end of the Great Patriotic War was, and has been since 1945, May 9th. After the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 the celebrations have been sporadic but in recent years Putin has realised there’s political capital to be made out of the event and it has now become a major affair, especially in Moscow, and under normal circumstances there would have been hundreds of thousands of Moscovites, covering four generations, on the streets today. It was only in the middle of April, when the covid-19 outbreak started to really take hold in Russia, that the planned parade was cancelled.

Soviet Troops - Berlin - 9th May 1945

Soviet Troops – Berlin – 9th May 1945

Why the difference in the end of the same war?

When the defeat of the Nazi forces was only a matter of time the Fascist leadership after the death of Hitler started to play a bit of a game – deadly for those needlessly killed in the last 6 or 7 days of the conflict.

The Red Army was coming from the east like a steamroller, destroying everything in its path. The British/American et al were making equally fast progress from the west. By the beginning of May it wasn’t a matter of when the Fascists had to surrender it became to whom – and when. The Fascists knew they would be able to get the best deal for themselves if they negotiated with the allies coming from the west – after all British and American capitalism wasn’t that far removed from German Fascism. They knew they would get short shrift from the Soviets.

The Soviet flag flies above the Brandenberg Gate, Berlin

The Soviet flag flies above the Brandenberg Gate, Berlin

Somehow (and I don’t know if anyone ever discovered exactly how this was allowed to happen – the documents coming into German hands during the Ardennes Offensive – also called the Battle of the Bulge which came to an end in January 1945) the Fascists got hold of a map that had been drawn up which showed how Germany would be divided between the allies. With that knowledge Karl Dönitz’s, Hitler’s ‘appointed successor’, main task was to let the war drag on for as long as possible so as many Fascists as possible could escape into those sectors that would be under the control of the British, American or French forces.

To get an idea of Dönitz’s ideology a couple of quotes from national radio broadcasts in the early part of May 1945.

On 1st May, just after the broadcast of the news of Hitler’s death, Dönitz added the following;

‘My first task is to save Germany from destruction by the advancing Bolshevik enemy. It is to serve this purpose alone that the military struggle continues.’

For ‘Germany’ read as many as possible Nazis and Hitlerites.

A public broadcast, so these words and intentions would have been known by all the Allies’ commanders. Added to this Dönitz had never made a secret of his sympathies, being a staunch supporter of Hitler (so much so that even the normally paranoid and suspicious ‘Führer’ had designated him ‘heir apparent’), anti-Communist and anti-Semite.

(To show how correct the new Fascist leader was in his approach to surrender he was only given a 10 year prison sentence at the Nuremberg Trials (arguing the ‘just obeying orders’ defence) – then surviving till 1980 – whilst of those sent to negotiate with the western allies one (von Friedeburg) committed suicide and two (Jodl and Keitel) were hung.)

Soviet flag flies over the Reichstag, Berlin, May 1945

Soviet flag flies over the Reichstag, Berlin, May 1945

After the end of hostilities he wasn’t arrested in Flensburg (almost in Denmark), by British forces, until 23rd May. Why it took so long demonstrates the attitude of the western allies to the Nazis especially as, on the day the unconditional surrender was signed, he had made the following broadcast.

‘Comrades, we have been set back as thousand years in our history. Land that was German for a thousand years has now fallen into Russian hands … [but] despite today’s military breakdown, our people are unlike the Germany of 1918. They have not been split asunder. Whether we want to create another form of National Socialism or whether we conform to the life imposed upon us by the enemy, we should make sure that the unity given to us by National Socialism is maintained under all circumstances.’

But back to the machinations of the Nazis, in efforts to save as many of their kind as possible, and the collaboration in this by the top commanders of both the British and American armed forces. By Montgomery sticking to protocol (and sending the Fascist envoys to Eisenhower – the Allied Supreme Commander) and then Eisenhower giving the Nazis an extra 48 hours before borders were closed) an untold number of war criminals were allowed to escape to and then later prosper in the parts of the country controlled by the western allies. Although not breaking the letter of the agreement with the Soviets it certainly went against the spirit of those agreements. But then what do you expect?

After all the time wasting, game playing and vacillation the first unconditional surrender was signed in Rheims on 7th May. However, there was a very large and angry Red Army coming in from the east and on Stalin‘s insistence any final capitulation had to be signed in the presence of the Commander of the Red Army in Germany, Marshal Zhukov.

That unconditional surrender was signed just before midnight Central European Time on 8th May – which was already 9th May in Moscow – hence the difference in dates.

Celebrations in Moscow

News of the surrender was broadcast over the radio at around 02.00 Soviet time and people congregated in Red Square soon after. Although you rarely see pictures of the reaction to news of the end of the Great Patriotic War by the citizens of the Soviet Union Red Square was as full that day as Trafalgar Square in London or Time Square in New York.

For Motherland, for Stalin - 9th May 1945

For Motherland, for Stalin – 9th May 1945

Red Square - 9th May 1945

Red Square – 9th May 1945

Red Square - 9th May 1945

Red Square – 9th May 1945

I have read reference to, but haven’t been able to confirm it or seen photographic proof, that there was a simple ceremony later in the day of the 9th when captured standards of the Nazi army were thrown down on to the ground in front of the Lenin Mausoleum with Soviet leaders on the podium. This did happen, but the only time I know for certain when it did was during the Victory Parade which took place on 24th June 1945.

Early on the day of the 9th May, Comrade Stalin issued the following Order of the Day;

ORDER OF THE DAY, No. 369, OF MAY 9, 1945,

Addressed to the Red Army and Navy

ON May 8, 1945, in Berlin, representatives of the German High Command signed the instrument of unconditional surrender of the German armed forces.

The Great Patriotic War which the Soviet people waged against the German-fascist invaders is victoriously concluded. Germany is utterly routed.

Comrades, Red Army men, Red Navy men, sergeants, petty officers, officers of the army and navy, generals, admirals and marshals, I congratulate you upon the victorious termination of the Great Patriotic War.

To mark complete victory over Germany, to-day, May 9, the day of victory, at 22.00 hours (Moscow time), the capital of our Motherland, Moscow, on behalf of the Motherland, shall salute the gallant troops of the Red Army, the ships and units of the Navy, which have won this brilliant victory, by firing thirty artillery salvoes from one thousand guns.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the fighting for the freedom and independence of our Motherland!

Long live the victorious Red Army and Navy!


Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Marshal of the Soviet Union


[30 salvoes from a thousand guns – that’s quite a firework display!]

The end of the Great Patriotic War celebrated in Moscow's Red Square, May 9, 1945

The end of the Great Patriotic War celebrated in Moscow’s Red Square, May 9, 1945

Joseph Stalin’s Victory Speech

Broadcast from Moscow at 20.00 hours (Moscow time) on May 9, 1945

COMRADES! Men and women compatriots!

The great day of victory over Germany has come. Fascist Germany, forced to her knees by the Red Army and the troops of our Allies, has acknowledged herself defeated and declared unconditional surrender.

On May 7 the preliminary protocol on surrender was signed in the city of Rheims. On May 8 representatives of the German High Command, in the presence of representatives of the Supreme Command of the Allied troops and the Supreme Command of the Soviet Troops, signed in Berlin the final act of surrender, the execution of which began at 24.00 hours on May 8.

Being aware of the wolfish habits of the German ringleaders, who regard treaties and agreements as empty scraps of paper, we have no reason to trust their words. However, this morning, in pursuance of the act of surrender, the German troops began to lay down their arms and surrender to our troops en masse. This is no longer an empty scrap of paper. This is actual surrender of Germany’s armed forces. True, one group of German troops in the area of Czechoslovakia is still evading surrender. But I trust that the Red Army will be able to bring it to its senses.

Now we can state with full justification that the historic day of the final defeat of Germany, the day of the great victory of our people over German imperialism has come.

The great sacrifices we made in the name of the freedom and independence of our Motherland, the incalculable privations and sufferings experienced by our people in the course of the war, the intense work in the rear and at the front, placed on the altar of the Motherland, have not been in vain, and have been crowned by complete victory over the enemy. The age-long struggle of the Slav peoples for their existence and their independence has ended in victory over the German invaders and German tyranny.

Henceforth the great banner of the freedom of the peoples and peace among peoples will fly over Europe.

Three years ago Hitler declared for all to hear that his aims included the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the wresting from it of the Caucasus, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Baltic lands and other areas. He declared bluntly; ‘We will destroy Russia so that she will never be able to rise again.’ This was three years ago. However, Hitler’s crazy ideas were not fated to come true-the progress of the war scattered them to the winds. In actual fact the direct opposite of the Hitlerites’ ravings has taken place. Germany is utterly defeated. The German troops are surrendering. The Soviet Union is celebrating Victory, although it does not intend either to dismember or to destroy Germany.

Comrades! The Great Patriotic War has ended in our complete victory. The period of war in Europe is over. The period of peaceful development has begun.

I congratulate you upon victory, my dear men and women compatriots!

Glory to our heroic Red Army, which upheld the independence of our Motherland and won victory over the enemy!

Glory to our great people, the people victorious!

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the struggle against the enemy and gave their lives for the freedom and happiness of our people!

[Personally I would have liked Comrade Stalin to have added;

Long Live Socialism,

Long Live Marxism-Leninism.]

Soviet Victory Parade

Soviet Victory Parade

Victory Parade, 24th June 1945

The Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 was a held by the Soviet army (with a small squad from the Polish army) after the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War. It took place in the Soviet capital, mostly centring around a military parade through Red Square. The parade took place on a rainy June 24, 1945, and it was during this parade that the Nazi standards were definitely thrown on the ground in front of the Lenin Mausoleum, with Stalin and other Soviet leaders of the podium.

The fate of Nazism

The fate of Nazism

Some of these standards were, for many years, inside a huge glass case on the floor of one of the rooms of the Revolution Museum in Moscow, close to the then Pravda offices and the Mayakovsky Metro station.

After 1991 this museum went through a number of changes and has little to merit a visit today (or at least it didn’t at the end of 2017). I understand that some (or all) of these standards are currently in the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. If or how they are displayed would be interesting. When I saw them in the early 1970s I liked the idea they were in a jumble (thought well organsiaed jumble) on the floor – as they were at the Victory Parade in 1945. ‘Trophies of war’ are often displayed in the way they would have been when in the hands of their original producers – that was not the fate for the Nazi symbols in the Soviet Union.

More on the ‘Revolutionary Year’

More on the USSR