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70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany

70th anniversary of Victory Day: how Russian cities changed since the Great Patriotic War

© Fotokhronika, Ruslan Shamukov/TASS
Military photos and modern images - in the special project by TASS

It was 70 years ago that Nazi Germany suffered its defeat to the USSR in the Great Patriotic War. The Soviet Union was the country that suffered most in that war. Such large cities as Leningrad (present-day St.Petersburg), Kiev, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Smolensk, Kursk, and many others, were severely damaged and some of them, such as Minsk, Stalingrad (present-day Volgograd), Rostov-on-Don were completely destroyed. After the war, the restoration of the affected cities and monuments was started. In this special project TASS has gathered file photos of the war years and modern images of the same places 70 years later.



In the fall of 1942 Nazi troops launched a strategic offensive named Operation Typhoon to seize Moscow. The Battle of Moscow lasted for seven months till April 20, 1942.

The Moscow strategic defensive operation began on September 30, 1941. By mid-October Nazi forces managed to break through the Soviet defense lines and advanced towards Moscow.

On December 5, 1941 the Red Army launched a counter-offensive operation pushing the German troops some 100-250 kilometers back from the Soviet capital. The Battle of Moscow was the first serious defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

About 1.2 million Soviet troops took part in the Moscow strategic offensive operation. The Red Army lost some 140,000 troops, while the German army of 768,000 lost some 100,000.

In May 1965 Moscow was declared Hero City by the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union.


Leningrad/Saint Petersburg

The capture of Leningrad, Russia’s former capital, was one of Germany’s key strategic and goals in World War II. The siege of Leningrad began on September 8, 1941 and lasted for over 900 days till January 1944. Some 10,000 buildings were destroyed by Nazi air and artillery strikes on Leningrad during the siege and 716,000 people were left homeless. The city quickly ran out of fuel, food and water and suffered from power and central heating cuts. The only food available to locals was 125 grams of bread, distributed through ration cards. Leningrad’s population dropped from 3 million to 800,000 people during the siege. Some 17,000 people were killed by Nazi strikes and over 641,000 died of starvation. About 1.7 million were evacuated.

The Nazi encirclement was broken in January 1943 but the siege continued until January 27, 1944, when the Soviet Leningrad-Novgorod Strategic Offensive expelled German forces from the southern outskirts of the city.

In May 1965 Leningrad was declared Hero City.


The Battle of Stalingrad is regarded the largest battle of World War II. The battle lasted 200 days, ranged some 100,000 square kilometers and involved 14 German and 12 Soviet divisions (over 2.1 million people).

The defense of Stalingrad began on July 19, 1942. On November 19, 1942, after 125 days of fierce fighting the Red Army launched an offensive operation, which involved more than 1.1 million troops, 15,500 artillery pieces, 1,350 aircraft and 1,500 tanks. The Nazi troops commanded by Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus were encircled. Paulus surrendered on January 31, 1943 and the rest of his army capitulated on February 2, marking the end of the Battle of Stalingrad. Germany lost 1.5 million troops killed, missing or wounded.

The Soviet Union lost 480,000 troops killed and over 500,000 wounded in the Battle of Stalingrad. More than 760,000 personnel were awarded the medal for the defense of Stalingrad from December 1942.



The defense of Sevastopol began on October 30, 1941 and lasted 250 days. The Black Sea port held out for months under heavy Nazi air strikes and was captured by German troops on July 4, 1942.

Sevastopol was liberated by the Red Army on May 9, 1944, a year before the end of the Great Patriotic War.

Sevastopol was awarded the Hero City title.

The cities of military glory: Rostov-on-Don, Kursk, Tula, Belgorod, Voronezh

City of Military Glory is an honorary title bestowed upon Russian cities whose defenders displayed courage and heroism during World War II. The title was established by a federal law signed by President Vladimir Putin on May 9, 2006. The award has been bestowed upon 45 cities.