WWII Soviet Veteran Honors Americans on Victory Day

As you know, Russian-American relations now are at a low point. That is why I am encouraged to report to you that some Russians are still very appreciative of what America did during WWII. And I am glad that an American helped by SRS is very appreciative of what the USSR did for the world in fighting Hitler and Nazi Germany. 


72 years ago today the flag of the Soviet Union was hoisted over the Reichstag. (2 days later this photo was taken)

As a Russian who has worked with Americans since 1993, and for SRS since 2000, I know that Americans have a hard time understanding Russia's commitment to remembering WWII. One simple way to understand our passion for this holiday is to realize that the USSR lost 20 million souls in this war, and America only lost 400,000. 

For every Russian, World War II is first and foremost the so-called Great Patriotic War which started on June 22, 1941 and lasted until May 9, 1945. Therefore May 9 marks the end of the war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

This day is celebrated with military parades and concerts. As for regular people, in my family for example we always get together, cook up a feast, raise our glasses to the victory over the Nazis and remember those who did not come back.

72 years ago today the flag of the Soviet Union was hoisted over the Reichstag. (2 days later this photo was taken)

To understand the differences in how Russians experienced WWII and how Americans did, Germany had 4 million soldiers on the Eastern Front for 4 years. The full Western Front had only 2 million German soldiers for a year.  

It’s not just a tradition. It’s a day commemorating the end of the worst war in the history of my country – and of the whole world.  

In contemporary Russia it’s difficult to find a city or a family that wasn’t touched by World War II in one way or another. My best friend’s father survived Auschwitz. My own parents had to flee from Nazi soldiers who occupied their village. My mom was only 5 but she breaks into tears every time she remembers those days.

Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) had survived the blockade and lost 80% of its population of 3 million– most of it died of hunger.

That’s the reason Victory Day is so important for Russians – it’s personal for every family. We commemorate those who fought for their families and gave up their lives to force the enemy out of our territory.

We understand how hard it was to defeat fascism in 1941-1945 and our grandparents would have been in much worse situation if American, French, and British troops had not entered the war in 1939-41. Thanks to the Allied operation (the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe) the Western Front was opened and speeded up the end of the war.

The U.S.A. supplied the Soviet Union with$11.3 billion (equivalent to $150 billion today) worth of supplies during WWII. It was not only supplies of finished products like planes and trucks, but also raw materials that were extremely important - metals, chemicals and products, which were either not produced in the USSR or lost to the enemy. And let’s not forget about food supplies – during WWII the Allies supplied about 4 million tons of food, flour, canned meats, etc.

Lewis Purcell, whose ministry with Camp “Babochka” is facilitated through SRS, participated in a concert dedicated to Victory Day. This past Friday he got a chance to share at a public school in St. Petersburg about his grandfather Graham Purcell Jr. and his service during the War. 

Lewis reports, “Afterwards a 94-year old veteran stood up and in front of everyone thanked me and America and Graham Purcell Jr. for everything they did for Russia during the War – for the food, ammunition and machinery. He also said he remembered like yesterday the bread he ate in the spring of 1942 made with real American flour after months of near starvation. He asked me to personally thank my grandmother Nancy for Graham Purcell’s service”.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
— Matthew 5:9

Happy Victory Day!

Natalya Mironova
SRS Field Ministry Administrator