Every May, in celebration of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), thousands of people take to the streets all over Russia with portraits of their ancestors who fought in World War II. They mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in an event called the “Immortal Regiment” march.
In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin led the march through Red Square, one of the largest turnouts in memory, carrying a portrait of his father, who fought the Russians in The Great Patriotic War, what the Soviet Union called WWII. The final tally saw 12 million people march across the country in 2015. They march to remember those who fought in the conflict and remember the sacrifices their forebears made.
Felipe Tofani is a photographer and Art Director based in Germany who happened to be in St. Petersburg, Russia during 2015’s Immortal Regiment March. He marched with the Russians and took a beautiful series of photos for his photography blog, Fotostrasse. He also recorded his thoughts as he marched in the parade that day.
“Russians seem to go crazy with at the Victory Parade,” Tofani wrote. “There were a lot of people dressed in the military uniforms from the Soviet Union.”
“We grew up in Brazil and we never learned about the importance of Russia in the Second World War. In Brazil, you learn about the Allied Victory over Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union gets a secondary importance in the fight.”
“Everything changed when we moved to Berlin and learned about the Cold War and the Second World War from a different point of view. From that day, we knew we had to visit Russia and pay our respects to all those who died.”
“There were soldiers in this greenish uniform marching and a lot of red Soviet flags. It was our first sight of the Victory Parade and we were amazed by that.”
“The idea behind the Immortal Regiment is to honor the memory of the heroes who earned a hard-won victory over Nazi Germany.”
“The Immortal Regiment is to immortalize family memory. The Immortal Regiment brings people together to remember the grandparents and parents that fought from 1941 to 1945.”
“We read about the veteran parade a little later. But we didn’t know what it was since most of the people that were veterans during the Second World War were already dead.”
“We took pictures of everything and that includes a SUV that was transformed into a Katyusha rocket launcher.”
All photos are owned by Felipe Tofani, and used by permission. See Tofani’s original post on Fotostrasse.