Day of Victory reconciles former Soviet peoples
By Ignacio Ortega
Half a million people coming from around the world to the old Soviet Union, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, joined a massive march Saturday in honor of those who fought against Nazism iwn World War II.
"I'm very happy that my father is with me, since I have his picture in my hands, and that hundreds of soldiers can gather today in Red Square, though they're only photos in the hands of their loved ones," Putin, who led the march of the so-called "Immortal Regiment," said.
Mostly Russians, but also Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Caucasians, Siberians, Belarusians and Moldovans marched through the streets of Moscow with photos of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, many of whom died in the trenches.
Others among their forebears were wounded and some even reached Berlin itself and were there for the fall of the Reichstag, a bloody episode that precipitated the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945.
The idea of the Immortal Regiment originated outside the Kremlin and was an attempt to keep Putin from completely taking over the popular festivities that have millions of people pouring into the streets to celebrate the victory bought with the blood of their ancestors.
But the Russian leader soon became part of it. "The value of this action is that it wasn't thought up in some office, but in the hearts of our people," he said.
Once the column of Immortal Regiment arrived at the heart of Moscow, Putin joined the march to Red Square holding in his hand the photo of his father Vladimir, who was wounded when the Red Army tried to break the siege of Leningrad.
Moscow was now full of proud children and adults carrying photos of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, whether natives of Russia or from other former Soviet republics.
"My father fought at Stalingrad and got as far as Berlin," Dmitri said proudly as he went with his whole family to Pushkin Square to march with the Immortal Regiment.
Almost all the children and many adults wore the traditional Soviet military cap with the red star, hammer and sicle, plus the ribbon of St. George, symbol for many years in Russia of the victory over Hitler's troops.
According to official figures, some 27 million Soviets, including 8 million soldiers, died from the time Nazi Germany invaded the USSR in mid-1941 until the surrender of the Third Reich in May 1945. EFE