MINSK, 9 May (BelTA) – Today Belarus is celebrating Victory Day, one of the most important holidays in the history of the country. For Belarusians this is a sacred holiday, a day of remembrance, utmost respect and gratitude to Soviet soldiers, homefront workers, underground resistance fighters, to all those who made the victory possible.
9 May 1945 marked the Soviet Union's victory in the Great Patriotic War which lasted for 1,418 days and nights. The Soviet people played a decisive role in the fight against fascism and bore the brunt of the war and determined the future of the entire world civilization.
Belarus was the first of the Soviet Union republics to face the massive attack of the fascist invaders, becoming the scene of the largest battles. The first to come under attack were border guards and advanced units of the shield forces. The enemy aircraft bombed railway junctions, airfields, Brest, Grodno, Volkovysk, Baranovichi, and other Belarusian cities.
However, despite the courage and heroism, the territory of Belarus was occupied by September 1941. In Belarus the enemy faced the resistance unprecedented in scale and persistence. Over the years of the Great Patriotic War the national partisan movement involved more than 374,000 people. The anti-fascist underground movement numbered over 70,000 members. Belarusians, representatives of other nations of the Soviet Union and anti-fascists from European fought against the enemy as part of the partisan groups. During the war there were about 30 partisan zones which the Germans could not occupy.
During the war, the enemy destroyed 209 cities and towns, 9,200 villages, more than 100,000 enterprises, thousands of educational and medical institutions in Belarus. The Nazis conducted more than 140 punitive operations in Belarus. A tragic symbol of mass destruction of the civilian population is the village of Khatyn where the Nazis killed 149 villagers and burned 28 houses.
In Belarus, there were about 250 camps for Soviet prisoners of war and 350 places of forced detention. Among them is Trostenets, Europe's fourth largest death camp, where over 206,500 people were killed.
Some 34.4 million Soviet soldiers, including more than 1.3 million Belarusians and natives of Belarus fought in the war. According to modern scholars, during the years of the Great Patriotic War Belarus lost from 2.5 to 3 million and more people.
In the history of Belarus there was not a war more cruel than the Great Patriotic War, there was not a feat bigger than the feat of the Soviet soldiers who defended the Motherland, who saved the humanity from the Nazism. The memory of the war and the Great Victory shall not fade away: it is forever inscribed in the history of the Motherland and every Belarusian family. The tragedy and the Victory are the eternal source of pain and bitterness, pride and glory of the Belarusian people.
We move further and further away from the Great Patriotic War, but the memory of the feats of those who died in battles, the sorrow for millions of innocent victims and the tragedy of the occupation shall forever remain in the hearts and souls of the older generation, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
This year, 150 different events, projects, contests, car rallies will be held in Belarus to mark Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War. 9 May will see a march of generations as part of the nationwide campaign "Belarus Remembers". A procession headed by representatives of universities, military-patriotic clubs and schools will proceed towards the Victory Monument and lay wreaths. For the first time, veterans will not take part in the procession, but they will be present at the site at the Victory Monument. The celebrations will wrap up with a festive concert on Victory Square. Traditionally, fireworks will light up the sky at 23:00.