On 9 May Armenia celebrates not only the liberation of Shushi and the establishment of the Artsakh army, but also the 74th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany (Victory and Peace Day) in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
The war was a crucial part of World War II (1939-1945). It began on June 22, 1941, when Germany launched an attack on the Soviet Union in violation of all prevailing treaties. Sputnik agency reports that the Blitzkrieg, or the “lightning war,” that was planned by Germany to defeat the Soviet Union within a few months, went awry almost immediately in 1941. The staunch defense of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), the Arctic region, Kiev, Odessa and Sevastopol, as well as the battle of Smolensk, rendered the Blitzkrieg plans obsolete.
The Great Patriotic War lasted nearly four years and was the largest armed confrontation in history. Between 8 million and 13 million people simultaneously fought in different periods of the war over an area that stretched from the Barents Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south. The confronting armies had between 6,000 and 20,000 tanks and assault guns, between 85,000 and 165,000 pieces of artillery and mortars, and between 7,000 and 19,000 aircraft.
As a Soviet republic, Armenia made a great contribution to the victory over fascism during the war. Altogether, it is estimated that around 500,000 Armenians fought for the army of the Soviet Union, of whom 300,000 were from Soviet Armenia and the rest from other Soviet republics.
Some 200,000 Armenians fell heroically on the battlefield. About 70,000 Armenian soldiers were awarded with military orders and medals for their bravery and service during the war.
103 Armenians were awarded with the title Hero of the Soviet Union, taking the 6th place after Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Tartars and Jews. Marshal Hovhannes Baghramyan and legendary pilot Nelson Stepanyan won the hero’s title twice.
Armenians gave 64 generals to the Great Patriotic War, one aviation marshal, one admiral. After the war, another 83 Armenian officers participating in the military operations got the rank of the general.