05:14 GMT07 April 2020
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    ALABINO ARMY TRAINING GROUNDS, MOSCOW REGION, December 7 (RIA Novosti's Nino Iosebadze) "On the Forward Line" was the name of the Battle of Moscow staged on its 63rd anniversary. The rare sight gathered more than two thousand viewers, President Vladimir Putin among them.

    There were several episodes in the pageant.

    Units are committed as soon as they come to the frontline from a Red Square parade to repulse a massive German advance on Moscow. Trains keep coming to city railway terminals, bringing troops, tanks, artillery and munitions. Women and children crowd on station platforms, listening agonised to Sovinformbureau reports. The air is close with the sinister smells of gunpowder and burning as cannonade is roaring in the battlefield nearby.

    The mock warfare re-creates a small part of the battle in a stretch of the Western Front, with villages set on fire, German tanks shooting, and a great number of grey-clad Wehrmacht soldiers. A dramatic voice comes from the radio: "We have nowhere to retreat-Moscow is behind our back! We shall never surrender it to anyone!" The battle is raging on the forward line. Six enemy attacks have been repulsed, and more follow.

    The infantry joins fighting as anti-aircraft guns keep fire. Germans have been repulsed from Moscow! The Soviet Army launches a counteroffensive.

    The pageant, which involved 2,500 Moscow Military District troops and more than a hundred armoured vehicles, finished with the Victory Banner and the colours of units engaged in the Battle of Moscow displayed in a ceremonial march.

    The audience, in stalls decorated as frontline dugouts, included veterans of the Battle of Moscow. Many had tears in their eyes as they saw Russia's first victory in World War II re-created. The old soldiers were avidly exchanging reminiscences and impressions of the pageant.

    The gala was rich in emotion. "It's far more than a mock battle. It makes us again bewail our fallen comrades-in-arms. It makesus feel proud of Soviet soldiers who hoisted the Victory Banner above the Reichstag four years after the battle we are commemorating," said veteran soldiers.

    "We Russians must remember the history of the Great Patriotic War lest the tragedy repeat in this country and anywhere in the world," Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said after the pageant.

    The Battle of Moscow exemplified self-sacrificial valour causing a U-turn in a war. The heroic soldiers proved that Hitler and nazism were not invincible, stressed the mayor.

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