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The 7 Best Soviet Military Songs to Play on Victory Day

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Russia will commemorate 70 years since the Allied victory over Nazi Germany this Saturday, May 9. The day will be marked by a huge parade through the center of Moscow, involving some 200 military vehicles along with 150 aircraft.

Another way in which Russian people remember the Great Patriotic War is through songs. In the run-up to Saturday, The Moscow Times has compiled a list of the most popular military songs.

1. Cranes / Zhuravli

“It sometimes seems to me that all the soldiers,

Who never returned from bloody battlefields,

Do not lie in the ground where they fell,

But turned into white cranes.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

This famous song performed by Soviet actor and singer Mark Bernes originally came from a poem by Dagestani poet Rasul Gamzatov, who wrote it in his native Avar language in 1968.

The text was translated into Russian by poet-translator Naum Grebnev and published in the “Novy Mir” (New World) literary magazine later that same year.

After reading the poem, Bernes phoned Grebnev and together they adapted the lyrics for a song that they dedicated to the soldiers who died during the Great Patriotic War.

2. Dark Is The Night / Tyomnaya Noch

“Dark is the night, only bullets whistle in the steppe,

Only wind wails through the wires, stars dimly twinkle.

In this dark night, I know that you, darling, cannot sleep

And secretly wipe your tears away near the crib.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

The song was originally performed by Mark Bernes in the 1943 war film “Two Soldiers.”

In the film, Bernes plays a soldier who thinks about his wife and young baby at night while singing “Dark Is The Night.”

A Polish version of the song was popularized by singer Vera Gran in the 1960s and can be found here.

3. Oh, The Roads… / Ekh, Dorogi…

“Oh, the roads… dust and fog,

Cold, dismay, and wild grass of the steppe…

Shot will breaks out, raven circling,

Your friend in the wild grass is lying lifeless.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

The song was written a few months after the Great Patriotic War ended by Soviet composer and conductor Anatoly Novikov, with lyrics supplied by Lev Oshanin.

Director Sergei Yutkevich had commissioned the song for a theatrical performance on November 7 called “Victorious Spring,” which is where “Oh, the Roads…” was first performed to the public.

“Oh, The Roads” recalls the hardships that the population experienced and endured throughout the course of the war.

4. Katyusha

Let him remember an ordinary girl,

And let him hear how she sings,

Let him take care of the Motherland,

As Katyusha will take care of their love.

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

“Katyusha” was composed in 1938 and was first performed by Soviet jazz singer Valentina Batishcheva. The song became popular during the Great Patriotic War, inspiring people to defend their land from the enemy.

The song tells the story of a young woman, called Katyusha, who longs for her beloved — a soldier, who is serving to protect the motherland.

It is now popular among football fans of the Spartak Moscow football club as well as the Russian national team.

5. Dark-Skinned Girl / Smuglyanka

“The dark-skinned Moldovan girl went by path to the forest,

I was aggrieved to see that she did not call me with her.

I often thought of the dark-skinned Moldovan girl at nights,

And suddenly I met my dark-skinned girl in the partisan squad.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

Written in 1940 by poet Yakov Shvedov and composer Anatoly Novikov, the song was intended to glorify the female partisans of the Russian Civil War in 1917-1922. The song tells of how a man falls in love with a young Moldovan woman, who convinces him to join the partisan movement.

“Smuglyanka” was at first considered to be too light-hearted and so it wasn’t performed anywhere for several years. Its first official performance came in 1944, at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow.

The song later appeared in a Soviet film about love, life and death called “Only ‘Old Men’ Are Going to Battle.” The movie was watched by more than 44 million Soviet people, and “Smuglyanka” was soon popularized throughout the whole Soviet Union, becoming an essential part of Russian folk music.

6. Sacred War / Svyashchennaya Voina (also known as “Vstavai, Strana Ogromnaya!” (Arise, the Great Country!)

“Black wings don’t dare

To fly over our Motherland!

Over its spacious fields

The enemy doesn’t dare to trample!”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

This song, which was performed by the Alexandrov Ensemble, was viewed unofficially as the Soviet Union’s wartime anthem. Notably, Alexander Alexandrov — the ensemble’s leader — also wrote the score of the official Soviet national anthem, which has since become Russia’s national anthem.

“Sacred War” became a favorite among the troops, likely due to the fact that it highlighted the courage and daring of Soviet forces. It gained steam later in the war, as in the early phases it was seen as too dark and foreboding — a song that envisioned a long, tumultuous fight against the “dark fascist forces” rather than an expeditious victory.

As the Nazi forces closed in on Moscow, capturing the relatively close cities of Kaluga, Rzhev and Kalinin, “Sacred War” was played each morning on the All-Union Radio. Popular folklore has it that this song boosted the Soviet forces’ spirits, thereby propelling them toward victory.

7. Victory Day / Den Pobedy

“Hello Mom, not all of us have returned…

How I wish to run barefoot in the dew!

We have trekked across half of Europe, half of the Earth,

We did all we could to hasten this day.”

For the full lyrics (in Russian) click here.

This song, penned by poet Vladimir Kharitonov and composer David Tukhmanov, was written as an entry in a song competition ahead of the 30th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The judges were unimpressed, decrying the lyrics as inappropriately light and too frivolous for such a meaningful occasion.

They complained that the melody was reminiscent of something you would dance the tango or the foxtrot to. Both of those dances had been banned from the Soviet Union for being too bourgeois.

But beyond the judges’ panel, the song quickly gained popularity. It has since become one of the most popular songs extolling the virtues of the Soviet army.

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HSE staff should receive bonus for work during pandemic, says Donnelly

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All Health Service Executive (HSE) staff, including those working in administrative roles, should get a financial bonus for the work done during the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

“I want to see something done, yes, I absolutely really do. I think our healthcare teams have been incredible. We are still fighting the fight, but I definitely want to see some form of recognition for the extraordinary work that they have all put in,” he said.

Speaking after a visit to the HSE’s Limerick Covid-19 vaccination centre at Limerick Racecourse, Patrickswell, Mr Donnelly said: “We need to listen to the frustrations that they have.

“We do need to acknowledge that for nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, administrators – for everyone who has worked in the HSE over the last year and a half – that they’ve had an incredibly difficult time.

“I think they represent the very best of us and they have stepped up to the plate,” he said. “When the rest of us were told to stay at home to keep ourselves safe, they went into the hospitals, and into the Limerick hospital to keep other people safe, and we need to recognise that.”

The arrival of the Delta variant has been delayed by the use of some of the “strongest” lockdown measures in the European Union, but foreign travel now is adding to case numbers.

“We are seeing spikes in some parts of the country. There are cases linked to [international] travel, we know that. Most of the cases we are tracking are Irish people going abroad and coming home,” he said.

Advice

Some people travelled without a vaccination, or before their vaccinations had time to work. “They shouldn’t have done that. Some of them have come back and they have contracted Covid, but we will take care of them, we’ll make sure they get the care they need,” he said.

In “certain cases”, people have received a second dose of vaccine within 17 days of their first jab, as opposed to the previous advice of four weeks, and this may happen more generally, he said.

A HSE spokeswoman later said “For operational reasons and due to the pace of the rollout we are in a position to offer the second dose after 17 days in some cases. Second doses within this widow are clinically safe and effective.”

On the vaccination programme, the Minister said: “There aren’t that many people who would have thought just a few months ago that, in July, we would be vaccinating 16-year-olds.”

There will be no immediate change to rules around attendance at funerals, Masses, Confirmations or Communions, while the closure of indoor summer camps is being kept under review.

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Covid-19: More than half of Austrians now fully vaccinated

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With 53,386 vaccinations carried out on Thursday, Austria cross the 50 percent mark for total vaccinations. 

This means that 4,479,543 people are completely vaccinated against Covid-19 in Austria as at Thursday evening, July 29th. 

A further nine percent of the population have received one vaccination, bringing the total percentage of people who have had at least one shot to 58.9 percent or (5.2 million people). 

UPDATED: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Austria?

The Austrian government has welcomed the news. 

“More than half of the total population is now very well protected against the coronavirus and thus the highly contagious Delta variant thanks to the full immunisation,” Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said on Thursday afternoon. 

Burgenland has the highest percentage of vaccinated people with 66.1 percent, followed by Carinthia (55.7 percent) and Salzburg (55.2 percent). 

The lowest percentage is in Upper Austria, where 54.9 percent of the population is vaccinated. 

Kleinmürbisch in the Güssing district has the highest percentage of vaccinated people in Austria, with just under 80 percent of people vaccinated. 

The village however only has 230 residents. 

“But we are still a long way from reaching our destination,” warned the minister. 

Around one quarter of the Austrian population has indicated a reluctance to be vaccinated, with around 15 percent saying they will refuse the vaccination. 



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6 Amusing Historic Stereotypes of Major Russian Cities

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About the authorFor lovers of Russian culture, folklore, and history, Kotar’s work is a treasure. The grandson of White Russian immigrants, the 34-year-old is an author of epic fantasy novels inspired by Russian fairy tales. You can see his four books here on Amazon.

He is also a deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, a professional translator, and choir director at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, where he lives. Here is his bio from his blog, where he writes about many aspects of Russia. We highly recommend following it and subscribing to his email list to get exclusive material.

He has an excellent Pinterest page, and you can follow him on Facebook. Here is an archive of his work published on Russia Insider.

He is currently running a remarkably successful crowdfunding on Kickstarter to be able to publish his upcoming novels. Please support him if you can!


Stereotypes are a funny thing. On the one hand, they’re often no more than caricatures. On the other hand, there’s a surprising amount of bitter truth to some of them. Like the Russians say with their morbid humor, “In every joke, there’s a bit of a joke.”

This is especially interesting when we consider old Rus. We don’t have much to go on, historically speaking, other than chronicles, treaties, and a few bits of birch bark.

However, Russians have preserved some interesting stereotypes about the inhabitants of old Russian cities. Whether there’s any truth to them or not is almost beside the point. They’re fascinating, revealing a window to a world long gone, yet still persisting in the habits and personalities of today’s Russians. (Here’s the original Russian article that I translated)

EVERYONE IN GREAT NOVGOROD IS A REBEL

Novgorod’s rebelliousness is legendary. The image of a brawling Novgorodian is almost a calling card of the city. The reason this stereotype came about has to do with the old chronicles. They were filled with illustrations of the constant arguments at the Novgorodian Veche, a kind of popular assembly that met in the central square. (See my translation of “Martha the Mayoress” for a vivid fictionalized example).

Of course, there were arguments and even fights during the Veche. However, they did not constantly devolve into fist-fights, as the legends suggest. Naturally, the chroniclers would choose the most vivid and bloody examples from history to illustrate their point. After all, Novgorod was often an opponent of Kiev and, later, Moscow. But in actual fact, the inhabitants of Great Novgorod were fiercely loyal to their government and loved their city. Compromise was the order of the day, not broken heads. Plus, they were more than usually literate.

EVERYONE IN PSKOV IS A THIEF OR A MORON

Even in modern times, Pskovians have had to endure countless jokes about their crudeness, stupidity, and their lack of good manners. This may or may not be true. As for their lack of manners, that is entirely a matter of hats. The inhabitants of Pskov, no matter what their social standing, hardly ever doffed their cap before anyone (which is extremely bad form in old Rus). However, this wasn’t crudity or bad breeding.

It used to be that a hat symbolized one’s personal dignity. In Pskov in particular, to actually take off your hat meant to be shamed. It may be a bastardization of the more generally accepted rule that if someone else took your hat off your headthat was a terrible insult.

EVERYONE IN NIZHNI NOVGOROD IS A DRUNKARD

The painful topic of Russian alcoholism became especially relevant in Nizhni Novgorod at the end of the 17th century. A kind of epidemic of alcoholism rose up, and it was normal to see women as well as men lying in the streets in a drunken stupor. Foreign travelers recounted after their visits to Nizhni Novgorod that “Russians don’t do anything but feast.”

Of course, they did more than feast. But on holidays, Russians have always allowed themselves some excesses. It’s not entirely fair to single out Nizhni Novgorod, when alcoholism still is the gravest problem facing Russia today, as in olden times.

EVERYONE IN VLADIMIR IS A CRIMINAL

This stereotype appeared very early. It’s easy to understand. Vladimir itself had five prisons, including the famous “Vladimir Central Prison.” From the beginning, Vladimirians have been considered con artists who like a dangerous life. It didn’t help that the path to Siberia for exiled convicts went through Vladimir. It was even called the “Vladimirka.”

Exiled convicts stopped in Vladimir to have half their heads shaved (a scene vividly recounted in the excellent Russian film The Siberian Barber). Then they’d be branded as exiles or thieves, clapped in irons, and set upon the road to Siberia. In old times, the path could take as long as two years, and those two years were not counted as part of their allotted time.

Vladimir itself, for all that, was a typical enough provincial town.

EVERYONE IN ROSTOV IS AN ARTISAN

When a Russian hears the word “finift’” (enameling), he immediately thinks of Rostov. Nothing could change the old stereotype that every inhabitant of ancient Rostov worked in the enameling guild. That’s complete nonsense, of course. First of all, the best enamellists in old Rus were as a rule in Kiev, the capital city. There were also some famous artisans in Pskov, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Great Novgorod.

The only difference is that Rostov alone has preserved the traditional techniques of enameling since ancient times. Even today, there is a factory producing enameled work. Perhaps for this reason alone, tourists still visit Rostov exclusively to see enameled boxes.

THE INDUSTRIOUS YARSOLAVIAN

The industrious muzhik from Yaroslavl is an image that we even find in Gogol. From the times of Rus, Yaroslavians were known as people who were never apathetic, lazy, or prone to tiredness. Instead, they’re known to be active to a manic degree. This may have something to do with the odd tradition that Yaroslav is a city of buried treasure.

Apparently, wherever you turn, you see someone uncovering a jewelry box or trying to break into an ancient chest of drawers. Perhaps a little more seriously, Yaroslavians have long been known as “chicks of the cuckoo.” In other words, they’re more than usually capable of leaving their homeland without much regret. This quality has a clear historical origin.

Yaroslav was built on the crossroads of ancient roads—a path used by merchants from Scandinavia all the way to the Arab lands. From the middle of the 16th century, Yarsolavl became the most important center for trade in all of Rus. This constant movement often inspired young Yaroslavians to try out their luck in foreign lands.

True or not, such stereotypes make for fascinating stories. For myself, the “myth” of the boisterous Novgorodian comes to life in my third novel, The Heart of the World, in a semi-fictionalized setting of the Veche that goes fabulously wrong for all concerned.


Source: Nicholas Kotar

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