Victory Day (9 May)

Victory Day
Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, 9 May 2005
Official name Russian: День Победы etc.[a 1]
Observed by Russia, most former Soviet states, Serbia, Israel and former member states of the Warsaw Pact/Comecon
Date 9 May
Next time 9 May 2019 (2019-05)
Frequency annual

Victory Day[a 1] is a holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazis (or the German army) in 1945. It was first inaugurated in the 16[1] republics of the Soviet Union, following the signing of the German Instrument of Surrender late in the evening on 8 May 1945 (after midnight, thus on 9 May Moscow Time). The Soviet government announced the victory early on 9 May after the signing ceremony in Berlin.[2] Though the official inauguration occurred in 1945 the holiday became a non-labour day only in 1965 and only in certain Soviet republics.

In East Germany, 8 May was observed as "Liberation Day" from 1950 to 1966, and was celebrated again on the 40th anniversary in 1985. In 1975, a Soviet-style "Victory Day" was celebrated on 9 May. Since 2002, the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has observed a commemoration day known as the "Day of Liberation from National Socialism, and the End of the Second World War".[3]


The German Instrument of Surrender was signed twice. Initially, it was signed in Reims on 7 May 1945 by Alfred Jodl (chief of staff of the German OKW) for Germany, Walter Bedell Smith, on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and Ivan Susloparov, on behalf of the Soviet High Command, in the presence of French Major-General François Sevez as the official witness. Since the Soviet High Command was not informed about the surrender, and because Susloparov, a relatively low-ranking officer, was not authorized to sign this document, the USSR requested that a second instrument of surrender be signed in Berlin. Joseph Stalin declared that the Soviet Union considered the Reims surrender a preliminary document, and Eisenhower immediately agreed with that. Another argument was that some German troops considered the Reims instrument of surrender as a surrender to the Western Allies only, and fighting continued in the East, especially in Prague.[4]

[Quoting Stalin:] Today, in Reims, Germans signed the preliminary act on an unconditional surrender. The main contribution, however, was done by Soviet people and not by the Allies, therefore the capitulation must be signed in front of the Supreme Command of all countries of the anti-Hitler coalition, and not only in front of the Supreme Command of Allied Forces. Moreover, I disagree that the surrender was not signed in Berlin, which was the center of Nazi aggression. We agreed with the Allies to consider the Reims protocol as preliminary.

A second surrender ceremony was organized in a surviving manor in the outskirts of Berlin late on 8 May, when it was already 9 May in Moscow due to the difference in time zones. Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of OKW, signed a final German Instrument of Surrender, which was also signed by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, on behalf of the Supreme High Command of the Red Army, and Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder, on behalf of the Allied Expeditionary Force, in the presence of General Carl Spaatz and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, as witnesses. The surrender was signed in the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. Both English and Russian versions of the instrument of surrender signed in Berlin were considered authentic texts.

The text of the instrument of surrender explicitly stipulated complete disarmament of all German military forces and handing over all weapons.

Both the Reims and Berlin instruments of surrender stipulated that forces under German control to cease active operations at 23:01 hours CET on 8 May 1945. However, due to the difference in Central European and Moscow time zones, the end of war is celebrated on 9 May in the USSR and most post-Soviet countries.

To commemorate the victory in the war, the ceremonial Moscow Victory Parade was held in the Soviet capital on 24 June 1945.


During the Soviet Union's existence, 9 May was celebrated throughout the USSR and in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. Though the holiday was introduced in many Soviet republics between 1946 and 1950, it only became a non-labour day in the Ukrainian SSR in 1963 and the Russian SFSR in 1965. In the Russian SFSR a weekday off (usually a Monday) was given if 9 May fell on a Saturday or Sunday.

The celebration of Victory Day continued during subsequent years. The war became a topic of great importance in cinema, literature, history lessons at school, the mass media, and the arts. The ritual of the celebration gradually obtained a distinctive character with a number of similar elements: ceremonial meetings, speeches, lectures, receptions and fireworks.[5]

In Russia during the 1990s, the 9 May holiday was not celebrated with large Soviet-style mass demonstrations due to the policies of successive Russian governments. Following Vladimir Putin's rise to power, the Russian government began promoting the prestige of the governing regime and history, and national holidays and commemorations became a source of national self-esteem. Victory Day in Russia has increasingly become a celebration in which popular culture plays a central role. The 60th and 70th anniversaries of Victory Day in Russia (2005 and 2015) became the largest popular holidays since the collapse of the Soviet Union.[5]

In 2015 around 30 leaders, including those of China and India, attended the 2015 celebration, while Western leaders boycotted the ceremonies because of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[6][7]

Countries celebrating 9th of May

  • In Israel, Victory Day on the 9th of May has historically been celebrated as an unofficial national remembrance day. However, in 2017, Victory in Europe Day (Israel) was upgraded to the status of an official national holiday day of commemoration by the Knesset, with schools and businesses operating as usual.[11] As a result of immigration of many Red Army veterans, Israel now hosts the largest and most extensive Victory Day celebrations outside the former Soviet Union.[12] Traditions and customs of Victory Day are the same as in Russia, with marches of Immortal Regiments held in cities with large populations of Red Army veterans and their descendants.
  • Kazakhstan has officially recognized 9 May since its independence in 1991. It's a non-working day. The holiday is sometimes celebrated in connection with other national holiday on 7 May (Defender of the Fatherland Day). From 1947 the holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union. In 1995 the first military parade of Kazakhstan was held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory day in Almaty.[13]
  • Russian Federation has officially recognised 9 May since its formation in 1991 and considers it a non-working day even if it falls on a weekend (in which case any following Monday will be non-working); The holiday was similarly celebrated there while the country was part of the Soviet Union.
  • Serbia celebrates 9 May as the Victory Day over Fascism but it's a working holiday. Still many people gather to mark the anniversary with the war veterans, including Serbian army, Minister of Defense and the President.
  • Soviet Union officially recognised 9 May from 1946 until its dissolution in 1991. It became a non-labour holiday in 1965.[16]

Unrecognized post-Soviet states also celebrate 9 May:

Russophone populations in many countries celebrate the holiday regardless of its local status,[25] organize public gatherings and even parades on this day.[26] Some multilanguage broadcasting television chains translate the "Victory speech" of the Russian president and the parade on Red Square.[27]

RT also broadcasts the parade featuring live commentary, and also airs yet another highlight of the day – the Minute of Silence at 6:55pm MST, a tradition dating back to 1965.

Soviet and post-Soviet symbols associated with the Victory Day

Soviet Union

Order of Victory
Medal For the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945
Medal For the Capture of Berlin
Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
Jubilee Medal "Thirty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"


Medal for the 50th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Medal for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945


Medal for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism


Medal for the 60th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945
Medal for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945


Fighters against Nazis Medal

See also


  1. 1 2 Russian: День Победы, Den' Pobedy
    Ukrainian: День Перемоги, Den' Peremohy
    Belarusian: Дзень Перамогі, Dzień Pieramohi
    Uzbek: Gʻalaba kuni, Ғалаба куни
    Kazakh: Жеңіс Күні, Jeñis Küni
    Georgian: გამარჯვების დღე, gamarjvebis dghe
    Azerbaijani: Qələbə Günü
    Moldovan: Ziua Victoriei, Зиуа Викторией
    Latvian: Uzvaras diena
    Kyrgyz: Жеңиш майрамы, Jengish Mayramy
    Tajik: Рӯзи Ғалаба, Rūzi Ghalaba
    Armenian: Հաղթանակի օրը, Haght'anaki ory
    Turkmen: Ýeňişlar Harçlaarsiň, Йеңишлар Харчлаарсиң
    Estonian: Võidupüha ("Victory Holiday")
    Tatar: Cyrillic Җиңү көне, Latin Ciñü köne
    Serbo-Croatian: Dan pobjede/pobede, Дан победе/побједе
    Hebrew: יום הניצחון, Yóm HaNicaħón
    Arabic: عيد النصر, ʿīd al-Naṣir
    Bulgarian: Ден на победата, Den na pobedata
    Spanish: Dia de Victoria
    Czech: Den vítězství
    Slovak: Deň víťazstva
    German: Tag des Sieges
    Hungarian: Győzelem Napja
    Mongolian: Ялалтын өдөр, Yalaltyn ödör
    Polish: Dzień Zwycięstwa
    Romanian: Ziua Victoriei
    Vietnamese: Ngày chiến thắng


  1. There were 16 republics in the USSR on May 8, 1945. The Karelo-Finnish SSR was abolished in 1956.
  2. Earl F. Ziemke, 1990, Washington DC, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY, CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258 last 2 paragraphs
  3. "Gesetz über Sonn- und Feiertage des Landes Mecklenburg-Vorpommern". Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. Zhukov, Georgy (2002). Memoirs (in Russian). Olma-Press. p. 329.
  5. 1 2 Ločmele, K.; Procevska, O.; Zelče, V. (2011). "Celebrations, Commemorative Dates and Related Rituals: Soviet Experience, its Transformation and Contemporary Victory Day Celebrations in Russia and Latvia" (PDF). Muižnieks, N. (ed.). The Geopolitics of History in Latvian-Russian Relations. Riga: Academic Press of the University of Latvia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 August 2011.
  6. Soldatkin, Vladimir; Stubbs, Jack; Heritage, Timothy (2015-05-09). "Russia stages WW2 victory parade as Ukraine bristles". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  7. Parfitt, Tom (2015-05-09). "Russia's Victory Day Parade marks new East-West divide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  8. Anon. "Victory and Peace Day: May 9". Holidays around the world. A Global World. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  9. Anon. "Victory Day Observed in Azerbaijan". Holidays around the world. A global world. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  11. Israel passed the law on July 26 2017.
  12. Israel to host most extensive Victory Day celebrations outside of former USSR Archived 27 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine. 7 May, Voice of Russia
  13. "Военные парады в Казахстане за 15 лет "подорожали" в одиннадцать раз". | Новости Казахстана – события, мнения, аналитика. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  15. "Mamy nowe święto państwowe. Po raz pierwszy obchodzimy Narodowy Dzień Zwycięstwa"
  16. Anon. "For Russia 70th WWII anniversary looms large". Russia behind the headlines. RBTH network. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  19. Lviv Oblast, however, does not recognize Victory Day, but rather recognizes the day as a memorial to all wartime victims of both the Soviet and Nazi regimes, as well as all of those caught in between.
  20. «Велику Вітчизняну війну» замінили на «Другу світову» — закон (in Ukrainian). Fakty. ICTV. 09.04.2015
  21. Депутати врегулювали питання про відзначення в Україні перемоги над нацизмом (in Ukrainian). The Ukrainian Week. 09.04.2015
  22. Poroshenko signed the laws about decomunization. Ukrayinska Pravda. 15 May 2015
    Poroshenko signs laws on denouncing Communist, Nazi regimes, Interfax-Ukraine. 15 May 2015
  24. "Their memory lives on". Archived from the original on 16 May 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  25. "Estonia: Local Russians Celebrate End Of World War II". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 9 May 2007. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  26. В Канаде прошли праздничные мероприятия, посвященные Дню Победы [Russian Orthodox Church in Toronto celebrates Victory Day]. (in Russian). 8 May 2005. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  27. "May 9 parade TV-event from Israel" (in Russian). Courier (Israeli newspaper). 9 May 2009. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
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