Russia marks Day of Remembrance and Sorrow

Russia marks Day of Remembrance and Sorrow

On June 22, Russia annually commemorates the Day of Remembrance and Sorrow, when in 1941, 79 years ago, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

On June 22, 1941, German troops invaded the Soviet Union’s territory. German planes dropped bombs on Kiev (now the capital of Ukraine), Minsk (now the capital of Belarus), Riga (now the capital of Latvia), Sevastopol (Crimea) and other cities and towns. The war lasted 1,418 days. A total of 27 million Soviet people were killed, including 18 million civilians and 8.7 million servicemen. Four million people were tortured and killed at Nazi death camps. Some 4.5 million Red Army soldiers and officers were captured, and 2.5 million of them died in captivity.

On June13, 1992, the presidium of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation declared that June 22 should be marked as The Memory Day for Defenders of the Fatherland. On June 8, 1996, then President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree to rename it the Day of Memory and Sorrow.

On June 22, all flags on the Russian territory are flown at half staff. All cultural centers, TV and radio stations are recommended to exclude entertainment events and shows from their schedule.

Senior Russian officials traditionally lay wreaths to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow. All across Russia, various events to honor the memory of WWII victims are held, and minutes of silence are observed.

Since 1994, Moscow holds the annual Memory Watch campaign to mark the sad date. Youth movements, war veterans and Moscow government officials traditionally take part. Overnight to June 22, participants gather near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the Red Square to observe a minute of silence and lay wreaths to the monument, dedicated to all unidentified soldiers who lost their lives in the war.

Another notable campaign, the Candle of Memory, is held annually since 2009. On June 21, a memorial candle is lit at Moscow’s Yelokhovo Cathedral and is taken to the Hall of Memory and Grief of the Great Patriotic War museum on the Bow Hill. This candle is used to light many others, which are brought to WWII burial sites and monuments all over the country. In 2015, other former Soviet States, including Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus joined the campaign.

In 2009, the Memory Alley opened at Moscow’s Sparrow Hills. Overnight to June 22, people lit up candles and attach bells to tree branches there to honor the memory of the deceased.

Annually since 2017, a demilitarized convoy of armored vehicles departs from Moscow to Minsk and then returns back to Moscow. The event coincides with the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.

Besides, remains of WWII victims, discovered by search parties during the past year, are reburied with military honors on this day. Last year, such ceremonies took place in Central Russia’s city of Voronezh, in the northwestern regions of Novgorod, Vologda and Komi and south Russia’s Stavropol region.