About Celebrations – Victory Day

Victory Day, held annually on 9 May, is a national holiday in Georgia and many former Soviet Union countries. It commemorates the formal surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in Berlin in May 1945 and marks the end of the Great Patriotic War for the USSR, which lost around 25 million citizens in the four years of fighting.

The eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Vake Park, Tbilisi

The eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Vake Park, Tbilisi

A traditional ceremony of laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is held at Vake Park in Tbilisi. Similar events are held throughout Georgia at the memorials to those killed in World War II.

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Vake Park, Tbilisi

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Vake Park, Tbilisi

Around 300,000 Georgians lost their lives in World War II and there are around 1,300 Georgian war veterans still alive today. Veterans and their families gather to honor those killed in the war years.

There are around 1,300 Georgian war veterans still alive today.

There are around 1,300 Georgian war veterans still alive today.

War veterans

War veterans

One of the most iconic pictures signifying the end of the Great Patriotic War was taken by a Red Army photographer, Yevgeny Khaldei. On 2 May 1945 Khaldei scaled the Reichstag building in Berlin to take the photograph of soldiers raising the hammer-and-sickle flag. Celebrated as the image is, it was a reconstruction of a moment that had happened several days before but had been missed by the cameras.

Raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag in Berlin, 1945

Raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag in Berlin, 1945

The official story was that two soldiers, Georgian Meliton Varlamovich Kantaria and Russian Mikhail Yegorov, had raised the flag on April 30 but it was not until 2 May that all of the Germans that remained in the Reichstag finally surrendered and Khaldei was able to recreate the moment and take his photograph.

Mikhail Yegorov and Meliton Varlamovich Kantaria

Mikhail Yegorov and Meliton Varlamovich Kantaria

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