MOSCOW, Russia — May 9, a day celebrated in Russia and other former Soviet states, marks 71 years since the Soviet Union and its American led western allies defeated Nazi Germany. In Russia, it is called The Great Patriotic War. A war in which 27 million Soviet citizens died. To understand the scale of the destruction, we will just note that of all Russian men born between 1921 and 1923, only three percent of them survived the Second World War.
The Nazis lost 80 percent of their military power in the blood soaked spaces of Russia on the Eastern Front. The catastrophic annihilation of the once invincible German sixth army at the battle of Stalingrad on February 2 1943 marked the beginning of the defeat of Nazi Germany which culminated in the D-day landings on the Western Front by the Americans and the Russian Offensives coming from the Eastern Front, and the final drama of Berlin when on May 2, 1945 Soviet soldiers raised the Soviet flag over the shattered remnants of the Reichstag at the heart of Nazi German power.
This victory in World War 2 is burned deep into the Russian consciousness and the day May 9 is celebrated as Victory Day in Russia. The death of 27 million people has defined the modern Russian consciousness and is an important of their psyche as a people, just as for the Jews, the Holocaust is a defining part of their history and their psyche.
Today in Russia, millions of ordinary Russians from all across the country take part in an event called the Immortal Regiment where on May 9, they carry the portraits of their parents, grandparents – their ancestors who died or fought in the Great Patriotic War. We translate below an article from the online Russian Newspaper Vzglyad about the march of the immortal regiment.
Earlier, participants of the action “Immortal regiment” began the procession through Red square in Moscow, the event was attended by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
The President already the second time is taking part in the commemorative procession, carrying a portrait of his father- a veteran, said Vladimir Spiridonovich. Before the start of the event in Moscow, the total number of participants in marches in the cities of Russia was close to a half million people.
“The Immortal regiment” – is a public action march, during which people carry the pictures of their relatives who participated in the great Patriotic war. It is Victory Day in Russia and other countries. Since 2015, the campaign is now officially nationwide. Now it is also held in more than 50 countries around the world.
Irina Velikanova a member of the Central headquarters of the movement “Immortal regiment”, who is the Director of the Museum of contemporary history of Russia is convinced that Russians loved this action, as otherwise there would not have been so many people in all cities of the country that took part in it last year. “It’s such a national event. If it is not loved, so many people would just not be there,” she said.
The Chairman of the Central Headquarters of the all-Russian public movement “Immortal Regiment” Sergey Pershin also said that the initiative to carry out on May 9, the memorial March “Immortal regiment” was originally a grassroots idea from the ordinary people.
“The family history of every person in Russia is connected with this event. Families remember their loved ones – heroes, and this campaign has become truly national. It can be compared with the action of “St George Ribbons” – said Pershin.
We see here the profound expression of historical memory by the people of a country. For us in Africa, do the horrors of the Slave Trade – The Maafa – define our identity and is it burned into our psyche? Do we have any profound expression of The Maafa in our collective consciousness as African people? That singular span of history that the Maafa covers is a defining moment in the struggle of the African people for survival.
The aim of Nazi Germany and its allies was to destroy the peoples of Russia. Victory Day on May 9 and the Immortal Regiment is a singular act of collective remembrance that the goal of destroying them as a people had failed. The aim of our sworn friends from across the North Atlantic pond, was to destroy us as a people. The Maafa was the result of that attempt. But we survived it and are still here. Other peoples like the Native Americans and Caribbeans have been less fortunate. They mostly exist as only a footnote in long forgotten history books.
Therefore it is important to consider what actions we are considering as a people to imprint in our historical consciousness the fact of our survival in The Maafa. Where are the public marches to remember our fallen ancestors who were enslaved or died and fought in the period of The Maafa.
Our sworn friends from across the North Atlantic pond, armed with barbaric intellect to paraphrase Cheikh Anta Diop are doing everything today to denigrate the achievements of the Russian peoples in defeating Nazi Germany and saving their Russian civilization and Europe from the jackboot of the Nazis. Those sworn friends have done the same and are doing the same to us African peoples today. Lest we forget, we recall the words of the German Philosopher the Proto-Nazi George Hegel who wrote in his Philosophy of History:
“At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit… What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.”
Proto-Nazis like Hegel and his intellectual descendants provided the intellectual framework to destroy the historical memory of the African peoples and denigrate the historical achievements of Africans.
The Russians today hold fast to their historical memory and achievements, what about us Africans? When will we create actions like the procession of The Eternal Nation, for those who were enslaved or fought and died during The Maafa to honor their memory and how far we have come as a people? Actions like this will renew our commitment to our history and keep fresh the tree of historical memory that binds us to our ancestors from yesterday and to those living today and to our unborn descendants of tomorrow.