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February 14, 2022, 07:05

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Warriors of the Red Army at the exhibition “The Heroic Past and Present of the Russian Army” in the House of the Red Army. Novosibirsk. 1942

The birthday of the Red Army became especially significant during the war years. On February 23, brigades of artists performed in the combat zone, relatives wrote touching letters and sent handmade gifts to the front. All this was necessary in order to strengthen the morale of the soldiers.

The Victory Museum on Poklonnaya Hill will tell you how the Defender of the Fatherland Day was celebrated during the Great Patriotic War. On February 23, Internet users are waiting for virtual tours, an exhibition, a concert and a film screening. All videos will be available on the site museum from 08:00 to 23:00. You can watch them for free, pre-registration is not required.

The history of the holiday dates back to January 28, 1918. It was on this day that the decree on the creation of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army (RKKA) was adopted in the RSFSR. A year later, the authorities remembered the approaching anniversary too late, so they decided to time the celebrations to coincide with Red Gift Day, February 17th. But February 17 in 1919 fell on a Monday, so both Red Gift Day and the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the Red Army were moved to the next Sunday, that is, February 23. After that, the holiday was forgotten for three years. In 1922, it began to be celebrated again. Later, new justifications for the choice of date will appear, for example, it was argued that it was on February 23, 1918 that the Red Army defeated the German troops in the battles near Pskov and Narva.

“The tradition of celebrating February 23 originated a century ago. Celebrations were held in military units, enterprises, universities and schools. Later they began to organize sports competitions, to reward the military. The birthday of the Red Army became especially significant during the Great Patriotic War. Then, by the way, the holiday was called “The Day of the Red Army and the Navy.” In such a difficult period for the country, it was very important to support the soldiers, strengthen their fighting spirit,” said Alexander Shkolnik, director of the Victory Museum.

You can learn about how the Day of the Red Army and the Navy was held during the Great Patriotic War on a virtual tour. In honor of February 23, exhibitions were opened in the cities of the Soviet Union dedicated to the exploits of the fighters, solemn meetings were held at which they reported on the achievements of the Soviet troops in the fight against the enemy. Congratulations were printed in the newspapers. Of course, the holiday reached the very front. Concerts were recorded on film, and then shown in military units. In addition, front-line brigades performed on February 23. Artists gave concerts and performances in hospitals, ambulance trains, medical battalions and even in the war zone. They performed their favorite works for the soldiers, helped the wounded to recover.

The online exhibition will feature more than 20 exhibits from the funds of the Victory Museum. Among them are historical documents (invitations to ceremonial meetings, orders for awards, certificates of honor, telegrams), newspaper pages, photographs and holiday cards. The audience will also be shown gifts that relatives and friends sent to the soldiers at the front. It will be possible to learn the history of the pouch with embroidery and the cigarette case stored in the halls of the museum. Another exhibit is the album “Returned to Life”. It was prepared by employees of the evacuation hospital No. 1072 for the 25th anniversary of the Red Army, which was celebrated in 1943. On the pages of this album, doctors recall how they saved the lives of the wounded.

And those who are interested in military equipment and weapons are invited to watch a series of virtual tours “Motors of war” and “I wonder about weapons.” All videos were made on the territory of the museum expositions, each of them lasts about five minutes. During the tour, viewers will see the museum’s collection of cars, pistols, rifles and machine guns from the war.

The Motors of War series includes nine videos. We will talk about the most famous cars on which people moved in wartime. The guide will tell you about the first Soviet serial GAZ-64 off-road vehicle, the GAZ-55 ambulance, or the so-called front-line ambulance, which evacuated wounded soldiers from battlefields to hospitals, as well as about the GAZ-MMV truck, which, among other things, traveled along the Road of Life (the only a transport highway across Lake Ladoga, which made it possible to supply besieged Leningrad).

The cycle of excursions “Interesting about weapons” consists of 10 videos. Now the guide will talk about the weapons that were in service with the Red Army during the war. It helped defend the country on the border, defend Moscow in 1941-1942, defend the besieged Leningrad, win the Battle of Kursk, and liberate the occupied territories. Why was the legendary revolver of the Nagant system, which became one of the symbols of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War, used until the end of the Great Patriotic War? How was the TT pistol created – the first army self-loading pistol of domestic design, adopted for service in the USSR? What was the most popular submachine gun in the 1940s? Why was the 340-ton railway artillery system TM-3-12 nicknamed “Tsar Cannon No. 2” (by the way, one of the three surviving copies of the system is kept in the Victory Museum)? Answers to these questions can be found while watching the tours.

To listen to military songs, you do not need to travel to concert halls. The Victory Museum made a video recording of the performance of the First Youth Brass Band. The young artists performed the “March of the Defenders of Moscow”, the song “Blue Handkerchief”, as well as a medley of such Soviet songs as “Farewell of the Slav” and “Team of Our Youth”. The festive program will end with an online screening of the Soviet film The Ballad of a Soldier (1959, directed by Grigory Chukhrai). The picture tells about a few days in the life of a Red Army soldier who goes on vacation to his mother. The film was awarded more than 100 international and domestic awards.

Defender of the Fatherland Day received its modern name in 1993. This is a holiday for all men and women who are or have ever been in the military. It is celebrated annually in Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Victory Museum is part of the memorial complex on Poklonnaya Hill. It stores more than 300 thousand exhibits. About 400 samples of military equipment and weapons from the period of the Great Patriotic War and the second half of the 20th century are presented at open areas. The museum complex includes expositions “Feat of the people”, “Battle for Moscow. First victory! and the “Feat of the Army”, a diorama complex, the Hall of Memory and Sorrow, the Hall of Historical Truth, the Hall of Commanders, the Hall of Fame, an art gallery and four cinema halls.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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