padenieOn 24 June 1945, a scant six weeks following the Fall of Berlin and the end of the Great Patriotic War, residents of the USSR’s capital city were treated to the spoils of victory – a massive military parade.

Organized and undertaken on the direct orders of Stalin himself, the 1945 Victory Parade was (and remains) the largest ever held on Moscow’s Red Square. 40,000 soldiers, sailors, and other service personnel accompanied by 1,850 tanks, artillery pieces, and assorted equipment were mobilized for the occasion. (Alas, overcast skies and steady rain prevented a planned flyover by Red Air Force pilots).

The most memorable moment of the two-hour long procession came as Soviet troops bearing the regimental standards of former Nazi units cast them to the ground in front of Lenin’s Mausoleum – as The Leader and his closest Party comrades gazed down from atop the edifice.

The 1945 Victory Parade was, of course, preserved for posterity. The official version, compressed into less than twenty-minutes, but recorded in color (on film stock seized from German studios) was subsequently distributed throughout the country and, in time, the wider world. A version containing English subtitles accompanied by a terrible voice-over has been available for years on YouTube and across the Interwebs.

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