Veterans of the World War II Red Army took to the streets of Haifa Friday alongside hundreds of family members and other supporters to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany at the hands of the Allied forces 74 years ago.
Victory Day is marked in Russia on May 9, where it is the country’s most important secular holiday, commemorating the Soviet Red Army’s wins and losses in World War II.
The veterans paraded down the streets of the northern Israeli city in military uniforms bedecked with medals, with many marchers carrying flowers and signs with slogans in Hebrew and Russian. Participants waved the flags of Israel, Russia, former Soviet states and other countries which fought with the Allies, including the US and the United Kingdom.
Haifa mayor Einat Kalisch Rotem addressed the marchers and wrote a statement supporting them on her Facebook page.
“Seventy-four years have passed since the day in the spring of 1945 when you, our dear veterans, restored to the world the freedom and hope that had been taken and trampled by the Nazi monster. Seventy-four times, year after year, the world tells you ‘thank you,’ by that is still not enough,” she wrote.
About 1.5 million Jews fought in Allied armies, including 500,000 in the Red Army, 550,000 in the American army, 100,000 in the Polish army and 30,000 in the British army, according to Yad Vashem.
Some of those who fought in the Red Army served in the highest levels of command. About 200,000 Soviet Jewish soldiers fell on the battlefield or into German captivity. Those who survived built families and careers in the Soviet Union, until the Communist regime collapsed and many of them ended up in Israel.