"The Liberation of Europe". To the 70th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War.
THE MAIN BUILDING
This year the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. It was the bloodiest and the most destructive military conflict in the whole history of humanity. For the peoples of Russia and other countries, whose historic past was united by the common history of the Soviet Union, this anniversary coincides with the anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941 – 1945.
The final stage of the Great Patriotic War and the liberation of the peoples of Europe today cause an increasing interest and hot discussions both in Europe and in Russia.
The surprising is the fact that such a monstrous phenomenon like Nazism and its most ominous incarnation, Hitlerism could appear and reach might in very heart of the European civilization. European states haven’t found the strength to resist the totalitarian expansion and thus to a large extent contributed the political and military successes of Hitler’s Germany. These European countries have become the main basis for the Nazi aggression; they were the testing grounds for technologies of mass extermination of people.
The Red Army made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the misanthropic Nazis regime in 1944-1945 it paid with the lives of millions of Soviet soldiers who liberated the most of the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe from the Nazi occupation.
The exhibition offers the visitors to see and to understand the heroism of those who have made an invaluable contribution to the Great Victory and the liberation of Europe from Nazi oppression: soldiers and officers of the Red Army, the Partisans in the occupied countries, prisoners of concentration camps, soldiers of the Armies of anti-Hitler coalition.
The daily norm of Hitler’s “New Order” was the extermination of the Jewish, killing POWs, forced starvation, deportations, destruction of cities and villages and other crimes against humanity. The whole Europe was covered by a dense net of concentration camps; they destroyed hundreds of thousands of prisoners of different nationalities there.
The atrocities of Nazis engendered the anger among the population of the occupied countries and forced the people to struggle against Hitler’s regime. Representatives of various states and political views united in the European Resistance. The Soviet soldiers who escaped from captivity and the “displaced” Soviet citizens also took part in these movements; they fought in the partisan units and underground groups in Italy, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
The anti-Hitler coalition opposed the Axis Powers during World War II. After Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union the United States the UK governments decided to support the Soviet Union in its fight against the common enemy, who threatened the very foundation of human civilization. Exhibits show us this allied support: the supply of weapons, military equipment and strategic materials, including those within the Arctic convoys, the sailors of the Soviet Northern Fleet took part in the escort of those convoys. The exhibition shows the brotherhood of the warriors fighting in the armies of the anti-Hitler coalition, the founding of the French squadron “Normandy – Neman”, the Polish Army, the Czechoslovak Corps on the territory of the Soviet Union.
In the summer of 1944 the Red Army began to liberate the Europe. Each of the countries liberated by the Red Army differed by their peculiar political situation.
The entry of Soviet troops on the territory of Romania led to the upheaval in Bucharest. The new government abandoned the alliance with Germany and declared a war against Nazis. The deep historical relations of Bulgarians and Russians allowed to avoid clashes. The people of Bulgaria met the Soviet soldiers as liberators.
People's Liberation Army conducted operations in Yugoslavia; it was led by the leader of Communist Party, Y.-B. Tito, this fact allowed him to negotiate with Stalin on equal terms. The Red Army assisted the liberation of Belgrade. The rest of the territory was liberated by the Yugoslavs themselves.
Finland was the only country in the Northern Europe in the military-political alliance with Nazi Germany. The Vyborg-Petrozavodsk offensive operation ended with the defeat of the Finnish army and led to its withdrawal from a war. During the Petsamo-Kirkenes operation Soviet troops liberated the northern part of the territory of Norway.
By October 1944 Hungary was the only ally of Nazi Germany; it was tightly connected with Hitler's regime. The Red Army lost near 140 thousand people during the fierce battles on its territory.
By 1944 Poland, the first victim of Nazi aggression was turned into the testing ground for the mass extermination of "racially invalid peoples" - Jews and Slavs. By this time, the Soviet-Polish relations had been shaded by the occupation of eastern part of Poland in 1939 by the Soviet Union, as well as mass executions of Polish soldiers in the Soviet Union in 1940. The liberation of Poland was complicated by the resistance movement which was split. Armia Ludowa was under the Soviet command. Home Army was controlled by the Polish government-in-exile. Anti-Soviet public sentiment of the leaders of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 blocked the effective actions agreed with the Soviet leaders; so that was the main reason for its tragic outcome. During the fighting for the liberation of Poland more than 600,000 Soviet soldiers died.
The defeat of the German forces in Austria and Czechoslovakia was of a great importance. Austria was a reservoir of manpower for the Wehrmacht and Czechoslovakia was the Hitler’s weapons smithy.
The Red Army reached the borders of Germany in January-February 1945. The battle for Berlin is truly one of the largest battles of the Second World War. The broken dome of the Reichstag with the Victory Banner over it, its walls autographed by Soviet soldiers and officers will always remain the symbol of the defeated Nazi Germany. The result of the battle for Berlin and the whole war was the Act of unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany signed in Karlshorst on the night of May 9, 1945.
The victorious May of 1945 brought the peace for European peoples and freedom from Nazi slavery, and opened the road of democratic development for some of them. The perception of this period is often burdened with the knowledge of the current generation about the dramatic circumstances of post-war development of a number of European countries, involved in the Soviet sphere of influence. However, regardless of the goals and followed-up actions of the Stalinist regime in Eastern Europe, the historical merit of the millions of Soviet soldiers and officers is indisputable, they courageously and selflessly fought and died in a foreign land, knowing that without the final defeat of Nazi Germany and its allies there will be no a peace on the Earth.
The opening ceremony was attended by:
Mr. Michal Gelbič, interim Consul General of the Czech Republic in Saint Petersburg
Mrs. Alexandra Vatsko, Deputy Consul General of the Kingdom of Norway in Saint Petersburg
Mrs. Katrin Werdermann, vice-consul of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Saint Petersburg
Mr. Michael Burns, Assistant to the Consul General of the United States in in Saint Petersburg