February 01, 1996

Red Army Day

In February 1918, with the war in the East winding down,  German forces launched a major offensive that threatened the fledgling Soviet government in Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg).  On the 22nd of that month, Lenin appealed to the Russian people in his now famous address: "The Socialist fatherland is in danger." The resulting mobilization helped the Red Army to halt the German advance and preserve the Revolution.  Since that time, February 23 has been celebrated as Red Army Day, and since the collapse of communism, Russian Army Day.

Over the last few years, Russian servicemen have celebrated their Day with mixed feelings. The history of the Russian army can be divided into periods of crushing victories, pyrrhic victories and humiliating defeats. Russian history enthusiasts can easily recall the triumphs of Peter the Great's Northern War against Sweden, the humiliation of Prussia in the Seven Years War, Catherine the Great's Turkish campaigns and the dismantling of Napoleon's Grand Arm┼Że.

Yet nothing can erase from the history books such national disasters as the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and the fateful Great War of 1914-17.

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