MINSK, 9 May (BelTA) – Victory Day is celebrated in Belarus today. For Belarusians this is a sacred holiday, a day of remembrance, deep respect and gratitude to Soviet soldiers, homefront workers, partisans and underground resistance fighters – to all those, who made the victory possible.
78 years ago, 9 May 1945 marked the victory in the Great Patriotic War, which had lasted for 1,418 days and nights. The Soviet people played a decisive role in the fight against fascism, 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 onslaught of the fascist invaders and became an arena of the largest battles. Border service units and leading elements of the covering forces were the first ones to repulse the enemy's offensive. Enemy aircraft bombed railway junctions, airfields as well as Brest, Grodno, Volkovysk, Baranovichi, and other Belarusian cities.
Once Belarus was occupied by the Nazi, the enemy faced resistance of unprecedented scale and persistence. The key form of the nationwide resistance was the partisan movement, in which over 374,000 partisans participated. The anti-fascist underground resistance movement numbered over 70,000 people. Representatives of different nations of the Soviet Union and anti-fascists from European countries fought alongside Belarusians in the partisan units. During the war there were about 30 partisan zones, which the Germans could not occupy.
During the war the enemy destroyed at least 216 cities and towns and over 9,200 villages. The fascists destroyed more than 100,000 enterprises, thousands of education and healthcare institutions. The Nazis conducted more than 140 punitive operations in Belarus. A tragic symbol of mass slaughter of the civilian population is the village of Khatyn.
In Belarus there were about 250 camps for Soviet prisoners of war and at least 580 death camps. Among them was Trostenets, Europe's fourth largest death camp, where some 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 researchers, Belarus lost from 2.5 to 3 million and more people over the years of the Great Patriotic War.
The history of Belarus has not seen a battle crueler than the Great Patriotic War. There has been no heroic deed bigger than the feat of the Soviet soldiers who defended the Motherland and who saved the humanity from the Nazism. The memory about the dreadful war and the Great Victory cannot fade away: it is forever inscribed in the history of the Fatherland and every Belarusian family. The past tragedy and the hard-won Victory are the eternal source of pain and bitterness, pride and glory of the Belarusian people.
We move further and further away from events of the Great Patriotic War, but feats of those who died in battles, sorrow for millions of innocent victims and the tragedy of the occupation forever remain in the hearts and souls of the older generation, are kept in the memory of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Victory Day is traditionally celebrated all over the country for several days. Concerts, festivals, exhibitions, patriotic events, singing contests are organized as well as themed lessons and awareness-raising events in schools. On the eve of the holiday residents of Belarusian cities and towns lay flowers at graves of soldiers and prisoners of concentration camps in order to honor memory of those, who fell during the Great Patriotic War.
Veterans are honored all over the republic. As of today about 1,500 veterans still live in Belarus, including 503 in Minsk. Belarus is also home to about 8,500 citizens, who suffered from consequences of the war (those are primarily former prisoners of concentration camps).
The program of celebrations of the 78th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 in the capital city promises to be interesting and full of events. Absolutely all the venues in the city of Minsk will be used for concert programs. The territory outside the Sports Palace will traditionally be the central venue.
The festivities will traditionally culminate in fireworks at 23:00. The fireworks will be organized in six locations: Yanka Kupala Park, the parks named after Pavlov and after Hugo Chavez, on the river bank in the microdistrict Drozdy, outside the culture and sport complex Chizhovka Arena and outside the National Library of Belarus.