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22 Jun, 2009 03:03

Tomorrow was the war: Russia remembers nightmare of Nazi invasion

Exactly 68 years ago, at 4AM on June 22, the German Nazi forces suddenly invaded the Soviet Union without a declaration of war. On Monday, commemorations of victims are to be held throughout Russia.

The Nazi invasion heralded the beginning of the most destructive military campaign in history. Over 26 million Soviet people died in the struggle to liberate the USSR from fascist aggression.

Nazi Germany was eventually defeated with the fall of Berlin on May 9, 1945.

On Monday, Russia is remembering the sacrifices made during what’s known in the country as the “Great Patriotic War”. Commemorative events are being held throughout the country today.

At the Belorussky railway station in Moscow, the mourning is being held in the form of a historic theatrical performance, intended to remind people of the tragic events of WWII.

It was this railway station, from which the very first soldiers were dispatched to the front line at the Soviet border in Belarus on the 22 of June 1941, where the Brest Fortress stood against the German Wehrmacht in the first days of Operation Barbarossa.

Initially, the Wehrmacht planned to occupy Brest and break down resistance in the fortress within the first hours of the operation. But the fortress fell only 29 days later, having become a symbol of Soviet resistance during the war and earning it the title Hero-Fortress.

It was the same Belorussky railway station that had been delivering an endless flow of troops during all four years of the Great Patriotic War. And it was also here where soldiers returned from Berlin after having defeated Nazi Germany.

So for those veterans who gathered here today, this place is full of both sad and happy memories.

Early in the morning thousands of students came to the alley of memory on Sparrow Hills, holding lit candles and bells to commemorate those who perished during the war. The main event in the nation’s remembering the victims of war are held each year on Victory Day, May 9. However, the organizers of today’s activities hope this will become a new tradition.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attended a commemoration ceremony at the Kremlin.

Together with the President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin, Medvedev laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Read also:

Russians light thousands of candles to pay tribute to 26 million victims of Great Patriotic War
Russia declassifies archive files about USSR's top secret agent in Nazi Germany