The 70th Anniversary of the 1941 Red Square Parade

The year 1941. October. Nazi hordes are on Moscow's doorstep. The rambling of the cannonade reaches the city. Within miles of the city the Soviet troops are fiercely fighting on the defensive. Moscow is under a pall of smoke - in the offices, documents are being burned. The evacuation begun on October 16, and the defenses being built in the streets started off a barrage of rumors that Stalin and the Politburo have left the capital.

On October 24, Stalin summoned General P.A. Artemyev, Commander of the Moscow Military District, and Air Force Commander General A.V. Zhigarev, and asked them a question that simply flabbergasted them: "Within ten days we'll be marking the October Revolution Anniversary. Shall we hold a military parade on Red Square?" The generals were completely nonplussed. Things being what they were, it never even occurred to them to think about the parade. "I repeat, shall we hold a parade?" Artemyev started hesitantly, "But the situation.... And there are no troops in the city. The artillery and tanks are at the front.... Is it a good idea?" "But the State Defense Committee," Stalin nodded in the direction of Politburo members around the table, "believe that a parade is an absolute must. It will boost the morale not just of the Muscovites, but of the entire army, of the whole country."

A similar conversation took place three days before the anniversary with the leaders of the Moscow Party organization. "Where and how are you going to hold the meeting to celebrate the anniversary?" Stalin asked. Yet again his question was met with astonished faces and silence. No one contemplated holding the event that in peacetime would have been traditional.

Joseph Stalin explained why a grand meeting had to be held in wartime as well. "You'll have to put some effort into it, ran about a bit. There is no time left for preparing a ...

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