On June 24, 1945, the first parade dedicated to the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War was held in Moscow on the Red Square. The combined regiments of the fronts, the combined regiment of the people’s Commissariat of defence, the combined regiment of the Navy, military academies, military schools, and the troops of the Moscow garrison were brought to the Victory Parade. The parade was commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union K. K. Rokossovsky, and the parade was taken by Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov. From the podium of the Lenin Mausoleum, Stalin watched the parade, as well as Molotov, Kalinin, Voroshilov, Budyonny and other members of the Politburo.
This film was the first colour film in the USSR. The Victory parade on June 24, 1945 was filmed on German trophy film from the warehouse of “Agfa”. After the film was shot, it turned out that most of the tape had colour defects. As the colour films were not made in the USSR, there was not enough experience in working on colour correction. Therefore, the entire film was transferred to B/W film, and a 19-minute film was edited from the material that was of suitable quality. And many years later, in 2004, the Central State Archive of Film and Photo Documents restored the colour version of the film. The film was restored, removing all mechanical damage to the film, restoring the colour and transferring the image to modern colour film.
I have translated both the full black-and-white version of the Parade, including Marshal Zhukov’s speech, and the shorter colour version. The subtitles can be downloaded separately for the black-and-while film, and for the colour film.
Below the video frames are the complete transcripts, kept here for the reference. I was translating Zhukov’s speech, based on the Russian transcript here. What I found disconcerting, is that the BW documentary was edited to remove any reference to Stalin’s contribution and guidance! It seems the editing was done during the time, when Khrushjov waged his personal vendetta against Stalin’s memory. The colour version, though it does not include Zhukov’s speech, has Stalin “rehabilitated” and properly referenced.
- 3 Unbelievable Stories & Amazing Historic WWII Videos! by Lada Ray
- Stalin’s Speech at the November 7th 1941 Parade on the Red Square, which is indirectly referenced by the commentator
- There was another Victory parade, held in Berlin on the 7th of September 1945. That was a joint allied parade, where the allies were already drifting away from the Soviet Union, and only USSR had its official representative at it, but that is another story…
After the 24th of June 1945, the Victory Day parades were held in the USSR 3 more times – at the anniversary dates on the 9th of May 1965, 1985 and 1990. Next time it was conducted in already Russia on the 9th of May 1995, and then annually after that date. In the USSR military parades were customarily held annually on the 7th of November, commemorating the October Revolution.
In order to be re-uploaded with the subtitles, the footage of the B/W film was downloaded from the Classics of the Soviet Cinema YouTube channel. There was one quote in a viewer comment there, which I found especially poignant (note that 9 million is the number of combatant losses according to the early estimates after the war, the total number of the Soviet citizens who lost their lives during the Great Patriotic War is 27 million people):
Once my father expressed a piercing and terrible thought: “Ten thousand soldiers and officers of the armies and fronts participated at the principal Parade in honour of the Victory Day on June 24, 1945. The passage of the parade “boxes” of troops lasted thirty minutes. And you know what I thought? During the four years of the war, the losses of our army amounted to almost nine million dead. And each one of them, who gave the most precious thing to Victory – their lives! – is worthy to walk in that parade on the Red Square. So, if all the dead were put in parade formation, then these “boxes” would go through Red Square for nineteen days… ” and I suddenly, as if in reality, imagined this parade. Parade “boxes” of twenty by ten. One hundred and twenty steps a minute. In windings and boots, overcoats, and jackets, in caps, earflaps, “budenovki”, helmets, caps. And for nineteen days and nights this continuous stream of fallen battalions, regiments, and divisions would have passed through the Red Square. Parade of the heroes, parade of the winners. Think about it! Nineteen days!
— V. Shurygin
There is such a parade now in Russia, and its name is The Immortal Regiment! This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federative branch of the Regiment holds it march and commemoration on-line.