According to Russia Today, around 12 million people joined Victory Day parades across Russia (and the rest of the world) to mark 70 years of the allied victory over Nazi Germany. Most of the people marching were in the so-called Immortal Regiment that honours those who fought in the war.
We were in Russia when the Victory Parade happened and we marched together with the Immortal Regiment through the streets of Saint Petersburg. And it was one of the greatest adventures we ever did with Fotostrasse.
We were together with a huge crowd of Russians carrying photographs of those veterans who fought against Nazi Germany. Although some of them never came back, they were never forgotten. No one forgot the sacrifice those people made, and that is why the Immortal Regiment exists today. It was a honor to be a part of it.
When we were talking to Timetravels about going to Russia, we were always keen on going there at the beginning of May to be able to see the Victory Parade. The Victory Parade is somehow relevant to us and exciting in a way that is hard to explain.
We grew up in Brazil, and we never learned about the importance of Russia in the Second World War. In Brazil, you learn about the Allied Victory over Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union gets secondary importance in the fight.
Everything changed when we moved to Berlin and learned about the Cold War and the Second World War from a different point of view. From that day, we knew we had to visit Russia and pay our respects to all those who died. It probably doesn’t make sense to anybody besides us, but we had to go there. And we did it.
Victory Parade in Saint Petersburg
We did our best to prepare for the Victory Parade in the streets of Saint Petersburg. We knew there would be a lot of people on the streets; We knew we would have to go from one place to the other in a hurry; We thought we were ready when we left our hotel; but, sometimes, things don’t go as planned. And this is exactly what happened on that morning in May.
We had breakfast, got our cameras and our backpacks and went to the subway. Our goal was to go to Palace Square where we knew the military parade would happen. Also, we wanted to see the Russian navy going around the Neva River, and we even had paper maps telling us where to go. But, of course, the subway had more people than it could handle. Of course, we couldn’t stop at Admiralteyskaya: the closest subway station to where we wanted to go. Every tiny bit of our plan started fading away, and we knew we were about to lose the main thing we wanted to see in Russia.
When we left the subway at Sportivnaya, we knew we already lost everything we wanted to see. We saw people celebrating far away from us, and we knew we were late and we would never find a place to watch the parade. When we heard some people shouting far away from where we were, we knew it was over.
But we kept walking with a little bit of hope in our hearts. We crossed the Neva river and, at Vasilyevsky Island, we saw our first military march. There were soldiers in this greenish uniform marching and a lot of red Soviet flags. It was our first sight of the Victory Parade, and we were amazed by that. But there were so many people in front of us, and we knew we were late, so we just started walking around and taking pictures of all the people around us.
Russians seem to go crazy with at the Victory Parade. There were a lot of people dressed in military uniforms from the Soviet Union. We took pictures of everything, and that includes an SUV that was transformed into a Katyusha rocket launcher.
We missed the main event at the Victory Parade, but we still had hope that we would see something great. We read about the veteran parade a little later. But we didn’t know what it was since most of the people that were veterans during the Second World War were already dead. We didn’t know what it was, and we didn’t know what to expect, but we needed to find where this march was about to begin.
We walked to Mayakovskaya on Nevsky prospect, and we saw what seemed to be the place where people were gathering for the Veteran Parade. We took a few pictures and decided to wait there to see what was happening and to see if we could find a better place to make even more photos.
We walked around. There were a lot of police officers, and we decided to stay in a spot where one street crossed with Nevsky prospect. This was the best decision we made while in Russia.
Marching with the Immortal Regiment
The idea behind the Immortal Regiment is to honour the memory of the heroes who earned a hard-won victory over Nazi Germany. The Immortal Regiment is to immortalise family memory. The Immortal Regiment brings people together to remember the grandparents and parents that fought from 1941 to 1945. There were a lot of people in the streets of Saint Petersburg.
We have to remember that this city was sieged for 900 days when it was still called Leningrad. A lot of people died on these streets and everyone was there to remember and honour them.
By coincidence, we were there as well. Let me explain how this happened.
Like we said before, we were next to some people in a place we believed was one of the meeting points to watch the parade. We saw a lot of police around us, and we found a cool place to take pictures. Sometimes we saw some movement among the police, and we kept the focus on taking pictures of what was happening in front of us until some people started walking in front of us and into the main street.
We looked at each other and walked with them. After a few seconds, there we were. In the middle of Nevsky prospect and marching with the Russians for the Immortal Regiment.
Everybody was holding pictures of people that fought and died during the Second World War. It was a sea of people holding photos of family members. We couldn’t even see the end of the street, and it was covered with people and portraits.
It is hard to describe how it felt for us to walk there with the Immortal Regiment. There was a sense of history in being there. Exactly 70 years ago the Second World War came to an end in Europe. It was an atmosphere of reverence and silence that was only broken when old trucks carrying those who fought the war come by.
All around us, everybody was screaming in Russian what we believe was: Thank You. Flowers were being given to the men and women that looked like they could be our grandmothers and grandfathers. Ordinary people that survived a senseless war.
On that sunny afternoon in Saint Petersburg, we marched with thousands and thousands of ordinary Russians that were there to remember those who fought for them to be there. We don’t have any connection to the war or with Russia, but we were there together to honour those who died, and it was something spiritual. That indescribable feeling comes back even as I write this.
When you decide to go to Russia, you should go with Timetravels! They are a fantastic travel agency, and they can help you out with everything you might need to have a perfect Russian trip. They organise all kinds of tours, from student tours to low budget tours to grown-up travels!
Get in touch with them and please mention that Fotostrasse recommended them!