November 01, 2001

Survival German

It was 60 years ago that the Soviet Union finally halted the German offensive outside Moscow, turning the tide in the war and overturning Hitler’s plan for a блицкриг (Blitzkrieg). Yet even for Russians of my generation and younger, the war is still in our hearts and minds, largely because of the heavy toll (27 million lives) of victory.

In 1941, when Hitler was implementing his план Барбаросса (Barbarossa Plan), Moscow was strewn with противотанковые ежи (anti-tank “hedgehogs”) and the situation was more than grave.

From those days one famous phrase–the slogan of the day–is still well known: “Велика Россия, а отступать некуда – позади Москва!” (“Russia is huge, but there is nowhere to retreat, for Moscow is behind us.”) In the same vein, at that time the whole country sang a song we still all know by heart:

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