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ПОБЕДА

Victory!

Today is Victory Day. In Russia the end of the Second World War in Europe (what Russians call the Great Patriotic War) is celebrated on May 9th, not the May 8th VE Day we know. The Soviet Union, as it then was, was the country that both suffered the most in that war (26.6 million dead) and also did the most to defeat Nazi Germany on the ground.

I’ve seen it suggested that the German surrender to the Allies in the West came late in the evening so that it was one day later in Russia. However that surrender to Eisenhower understandably somewhat miffed the Soviet Union which wanted a surrender of its own, which duly happened the day after, to Marshal Zhukov in Berlin. So May 9th is Victory Day, ДЕНЬ ПОБЕДЫ (DEN’ POBEDY.)

It is celebrated every year but there were special plans for this year’s 75th anniversary. As elsewhere, coronavirus put a hold on those.

Just off Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg, last year, we found this memorial garden:-

Victory Day Memorial Garden, St Petersburg

Beyond the tulips in front of the protruding wing of the building the Russian word for VICTORY was picked out in hedging beside a red star. ПОБЕДА:-

Victory Day Memorial Garden, St Petersburg

Beyond the gates and off to the right was this modern building which was displaying Victory Day banners. My reading of Cyrillic is much too insufficient to decipher what sort of exhibition was taking place inside:-

Modern Building, St Petersburg

Leningrad Hero City Obelisk, St Petersburg

In the centre of Vosstaniya Square, St Petersburg, is the Leningrad Hero City Obelisk erected in 1985 to commemorate the fortieth Anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over German forces in the Great Patriotic War (World War 2.)

Leningrad Hero City Obelisk, St Petersburg

WW2 Monument, St Petersburg, Russia

WW2 Monument, St Petersburg, Russia

Another connection of St Petersburg to the Great Patriotic War is the old trams which still ply the city’s streets along with more modern counterparts. Despite their rattling and rolling the city’s inhabitants venerate the old models as they kept going all through the siege of the city.

Old Tram, St Petersburg

Eternal Flame, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

When I first saw this (from a distance) in the Field of Mars, St Petersburg, I thought it would be a Great Patriotic War Memorial.

Eternal Flame, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

It isn’t. Not exclusively. The original memorial is a Monument to the Fighters of the Revolution. The flame in the centre, however, commemorates the victims of various wars and revolutions.

From east:-

Eternal Flame Enclosure, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

Trees in one corner:-

Tree, Eternal Flame Enclosure, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

Eternal Flame:-

St Petersburg Eternal Flame, Field of Mars

Commemoration block:-

Eternal Flame Memorial Plaque, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

Video of eternal flame:-

Video, Eternal Flame, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

Some of the dedications. Translations of the dedications are here:-

St Petersburg, Eternal Flame, Field of Mars, Dedications

Eternal Flame, Field of Mars, St Petersburg, Dedications

Eternal Flame Dedications, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

Dedications, Eternal Flame, Field of Mars, St Petersburg

St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg

St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg, dominates St Isaac’s Square.

Cathedral from St Isaac’s Square:-

St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg

The equestrian statue of Tsar Nicholas 1 which lies in the middle of St Isaac’s Square was shrouded in panelling when we were there, undergoing refurbishment, so I have no photos of my own of that.

Cathedral from west:-

St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg

The Cathedral has a pair of massive decorated doors:-

Door, St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg,

St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg, Door

And two decorative friezes:-

Frieze 1, St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg

Frieze 2, St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg

I also found this small restrained memorial to the Great Patriotic War (World War 2) by one of the Cathedral’s massive pillars, each of which is a single block:-

War Memorial, St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg

Great Patriotic War Remembrance, St Petersburg

I was glad to have gone to St Petersburg in early May. This is the time of year when Russia remembers the great sacrifices it – and the Soviet Union of which it was a part – made during World War 2 (which in Russia is known as the Great Patriotic War.) It is salutary to think that without that sacrifice the war against Germany would have been a much greater struggle for the Western Powers than it was. It is not too great a statement to make that the war in Europe was in fact won by the Soviet Union.

Britain’s contribution to overcoming Nazi Germany is much over-estimated by many in these islands. It really amounted to not losing – or at least not admitting to, and therefore not giving up. From the Normandy landings onwards it was even overshadowed by the US (which of course – British victories at Kohima, Imphal and Burma notwithstanding – won the Pacific War more or less by itself.)

St Petersburg in early May 2019 was covered in banners commemorating the Victory Day in 1945.

1945-2019 Remembrance. (Unfortunately seen through rainy coach windows):-

1945-2019 Remembrance St Petersburg

Corner of Palace Square:-

palace , St Petersburg, Russia

There are 1941-1945 banners in front of this building in Palace Square:-

Palace Square  , banners

Close-up view of banner:-

1941-1945 banner

More banners in Palace Square. (St Isaac’s Cathedral in distance):-

Palace , St Petersburg, Russia

1941-1945 Remembrance Banner, Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg:-

1941-1945 Remembrance Banner, Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg

St Petersburg (i)

This was the big one. I had been to St Petersburg before – when it was Leningrad, on a school cruise back in the heyday of the Soviet Union when we were shown the bullet holes on buildings’ walls still left over from the siege of the city during the Great Patriotic War (as World War 2 is called in those parts) – but my wife hadn’t, and with her interest in Russian history it was a place she had always wanted to see and was the reason we chose to go on this cruise at all.

The city straddles the River Neva (and a bit beyond) which therefore appears in many of our photographs. It is also home to some magnificent architecture, beautiful palaces from the time of the Tsars (in stark contrast to the conditions in which ordinary folk lived, sometimes ten or more to a room in pre-revolutionary days.)

The Winter Palace, St Petersburg, from across River Neva:-

The Winter Palace, St Petersburg

The Winter Palace is part of the famous Hermitage Museum another part of which – along with a couple of ferries – is seen below:-

The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Other buildings on River Neva frontage-

Frontage, River Neva, St Petersburg

I got a closer view of the Naval Academy:-

Naval Academy, St Petersburg

The Peter and Paul Fortress, lies on an island:-

Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg

Closer view seen through rainy coach windows:-

St Petersburg, Peter and Paul Fortress

I couldn’t get far enough back to get all of this building in. In St Petersburg terms it’s fairly unremarkable:-

A Building in St Petersburg

A gilded tower in the city centre. (Note saltire flag in blue on white – St Andrew is Russia’s patron saint as well as Scotland’s, besides other countries.)

A Gilded Tower, St Petersburg

Riverfront builidings and St Isaac’s Cathedral beyond:-

St Isaac's Cathedral,St Petersburg from Across River Neva

Reelin’ In the Years 110: Roads To Moscow

Another example of Al Stewart’s lyrical eclecticism.

This one is about the Great Patriotic War.

Al Stewart : Roads To Moscow

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