Russia pays tribute to over 20 million people killed in Great Patriotic War

In memory of those heroes killed during the Great Patriotic War, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin laid flowers and wreaths to the Tomb of the Unknown Solder in the morning of May 8. Putin paid tribute, a moment of silence, to all those who died in the war.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is actually an architectural ensemble near the Kremlin walls in the heart of Moscow, was opened on May 8 in 1967. The eternal flame has been burning on the memorial for 40 years reminding everyone of the heroes who gave their lives away during several years of never-ending nightmare. The flame symbolizes nation’s gratitude to the people who exterminated Nazism in Europe and Russia.

“You name is unknown, your feat is immortal.” These words are engraved on the granite slab of the memorial located in the capital of Russia. The west of Russia was soaked with human blood during WWII. Hundreds of thousands of Russian people were going to war without a slightest expectation of any reward. The number of people who survived the hell of the Great Patriotic War reduces every year. Innocent youngsters of the 1940s have turned into elderly people who can hardly live without their relatives’ help. There will be the day when the words “World War Two veteran” will become history.

The history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier war memorial started in December of 1966. The USSR celebrated the 25th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi troops in the Moscow region. The Soviet Union administration decided to build a war memorial in the center of Moscow in memory of those who were killed in battles with German fascists. The remains of an unknown soldier were taken to the Kremlin from a common grave located 41 kilometers far from Moscow. The memorial was opened on May 8, 1967. Ten years ago the memorial was supplemented with Post No.1 of the Guards of Honor.

Every year, on May 9, the whole country pays tribute to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War with a moment of silence. Official documents say that the war has taken the lives of 20 million people. The documents about the losses of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union during the period from 1941 till 1945 were stored in the Defense Ministry before the beginning of the 1990s. Many documents have been declassified since that time, which changed the numbers of human losses. Professor Vladimir Yeliseev, who spent many years working with the archives of the Defense Ministry, said that the irretrievable losses of the Soviet army (soldiers and sergeants) counted 13,4 million people. The professor said that the number could be even higher taking into consideration the fact that all republics of the Soviet Union participated in the war too. The Russian Book of Memory dedicated to those killed in the war mentions the number of 14 million people. In total, one can speak about 16 million human lives.

The Institute of Military History of the Russian Federation is currently working on the encyclopedia of the Great Patriotic War. Many volumes of the book titled “The History of the Great Patriotic War” will be released in 2015, the website reports. The colossal work will reflect the entire new data about the losses that the nation suffered in its bloodiest war.

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov