Despite early retreats and losses the people of the USSR and the Red Army turned the tide against the fascists and eventually drove all the way to Berlin. There can be no doubt that it was the Soviet Union and its people that played the greatest role in winning the Second World War in Europe and did so in the face of the very worst Nazi depravities and barbarism.
In 1965, in honour of the 20th anniversary of the victory. the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR designated Leningrad, Volgograd (Stalingrad), Kiev, Sevastopol, Odessa, and Moscow as Hero Cities for the extraordinary courage, resilience and endurance of their citizens resisting against the Nazis. Brest was declared a Hero Fortress in remembrance of the way its garrison held out for many days, even when surrounded, fighting with ever declining food, water and ammunition to the very last man. In later years the list of Hero Cities would be expanded to include Kerch, Novorossiysk, Minsk, Tula, Murmansk and Smolensk.
In 1975 a book was published honouring the original group of Hero Cities and Brest Fortress. With text in Russian, English, French, Spanish and German it looks at each city story. We see the destruction wrought by the Nazis, the heroism of Soviet resistance and the remarkable recovery and rebuilding in the wake of the war, which is one of the great accomplishments of Soviet socialism. There are many photographs both from the period of the war and then of the monuments, people and rebuilt cities after it.
In this first of two installments we look at the Brest Fortress and the Hero Cities of Kiev, Odessa and Leningrad. We have also included some extra photographs from Leningrad as well as an abridged text version of the speech that Vyacheslav Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, gave on the day of the invasion denouncing the invaders and calling on the Soviet people to rise against them.
It ends with the stirring words "Our cause is just. The enemy will be defeated. We will emerge victorious."
Pat II has now been posted at: Second World War Hero Cities of the USSR w. photos and text Part II
(Click on images to enlarge)
Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad
See also: Vintage 1970's Soviet Postcard Folder of the Streets of Volgograd (Stalingrad)!
See also: Leningrad During the Days of the War and in Peacetime -- A Photographic Exposition of Resistance, Victory and Reconstruction