MOSCOW, June 22 (Itar-Tass) - June 22 in Russia is Memory and Sorrow Day. It was established under a presidential decree of June 8, 1996 to mark the anniversary of the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union - the beginning of what at once would be called the Great Patriotic War.
Seventy two years ago today, in the small hours of a peaceful summer Sunday, June 22 Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union without a declaration of war. Its warplanes bombed airdromes, railway stations, naval bases, army garrisons and sleeping cities 250-300 kilometers deep inside the country’s territory. The USSR had to fight against a combined force of Hitler’s Germany, Italy, Hungary, Finland and Romania.
The Soviet Union’s losses in the World War II were immeasurably heavier than those of all other countries in the anti-Hitler coalition.
The Defense Ministry has told Itar-Tass “the overall losses of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War, which lasted 1,418 days and nights, totaled 26.6 million, including 8,668,400 officers and men killed in action.”
At the moment of Nazi invasion the Red Army numbered 4.826 million. A total of 29.5 million were mobilized over the war years.
Decades after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the people of Russia still hold special yearly events to pay respects to those who gave their lives for the country. Wreath-laying ceremonies are being held at cemeteries across the nation.
“We shall light candles at monuments, memorials and cemeteries for those who died fighting for their land, for those who were fortunate to get back home after the victory, and who have not lived to see this day,” said the leader of Moscow’s World War II veterans union Ivan Slukhai.