19:10 GMT +319 August 2019
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    Immortal Regiment March in London

    'Immortal Regiment' March Commemorating WWII Heroes Kicks Off in London

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    An "Immortal Regiment" has been marching through Central London to mark the 71th anniversary of Victory over Nazi Germany. pThe tradition that started in Russia in 2012 involves a procession of people carrying portraits of their relatives or friends who fought and died in WWII, or the Great Patriotic War as it is known in Russia.


    ​Although the VE (Victory in Europe) day is celebrated in the West on the 8th of May, the former Soviet republics, including Russia, mark it one day later — on the day when the Soviet troops rushed to Prague to save the Czech capital from destruction by the German forces that refused to capitulate.

    The grassroots initiative of the "Immortal Regiment" swept through Russia like wild fire. Last year some 500,000 people gathered to march through Moscow's Red Square, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the total number of participants across the country was estimated at 12 million.

    But the march did not stop at Russia's borders. Marches to celebrate war veterans from the "Immortal Regiment" took place in New York City and Vienna, among other places. This year, nine US cities are hosting such marches, as well as Paris and Basel.

    ​​London has been holding its own march for the first time and the organizers are expecting a turnout of about 200 people.

    ​There are no restrictions as to who can attend, said the coordinator of the London march Tatyana Campo:

    "Anyone can participate in this march, irrespective of one's nationality, citizenship, religion, political or any other views. Come with family and children; invite your friends and colleagues."

    Judging by the posts on the event's Facebook page people joined the march in London from as far as Northampton and Coventry. Unlike in Russia, 9 May is not a public holiday in the UK, and many parents had been worried that they would not be able to bring their children because of classes. The organizers drafted a letter, explaining the purpose of the event, and the response from British schools was very positive.

    ​The participants of the march have been sharing stories of their relatives who fought in the war on social media and during the march.

    "I printed my uncle's photograph for the march. He volunteered in 1941 at 14 years old having lied that he was 18. In 1943 he was injured by a Nazi landmine losing both arms and one eye. A nurse who took care of him later married him. They had a son and two grandchildren, my two cousins. Many more members of my family were killed, wounded or affected. Memory lives on!" actress Ekaterina Fields said. 

    ​World War II veterans from Russia also took part in the march. They were invited by the Cambridge Russian-speaking Society and are expected to participate in several events commemorating Victory over fascism, including a wreath laying ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial in London.

    "My mum and dad had lived through three waves of occupation: German, Italian, Romanian. The whole of Europe descended on their little hamlet in Lugansk. At 14 my mum was digging trenches for the Red Army and then — burials for the tank crews that perished defending that small piece of land," Lidiya Grigoryeva.


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    Nazi Germany, commemoration, veterans, march, war, history, WWII victory parade, Immortal Regiment, WWII, United Kingdom, London
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