by New Worker
THE WARM weather in April has brought on an abundance of early roses and great bushels of magnificent red roses made up the dozens of wreaths and bouquets that were laid at the Soviet War Memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park last Monday to commemorate the Red Army’s Victory Day in the war against the Nazi hordes on 9th May 1945.
The annual event was organised by the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund and was attended by the local Mayor, Councillor Lorraine Louder MBE, local MO Simon Hughes, who led the wreath-laying ceremony.
They were followed by ambassadors and attachés from most of the embassies of the former Soviet Union and this year also a defence attaché from the United States embassy.
It was good to see him paying his respects to the heroes of the Red Army and the Soviet citizens who defeated over 60 Nazi army divisions but lost around 27 million lives in doing so.
There was also a representative of the British armed forces.
All the usual groups of veterans were there: the Arctic Convoy Club, the British Legion, The RAF Russia Association, the International Brigade Memorial Trust and the Normandy Veterans’ Association. There were also a couple of Soviet Navy veterans.
Former Labour MP Bob Wareing is a regular at these events and laid a wreath on behalf of the Society for Cooperation in Russian and Soviet Studies.
And there were similar floral tributes from the New Communist Party, the Communist Party of Britain, the Vietnam Friendship Society, the Marx Memorial Library and many more.
This year there was a group from the 2nd Guards Rifle Division – a historical re-enactment group, all dressed in authentic Red Army uniforms.
London’s growing Russian community also turned out in force and Polina Baranova, a young pupil at the Russian Embassy School, sang solo, unaccompanied, with a magnificent voice, a song by poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko, set to music by Eduard Kolmanovsky.
The newly appointed Russian ambassador, HE Alexander Yakovenko, in a speech before the wreath-laying, stressed how important it is to remember the horrors of the Nazi threat and never let that ideology rise up again. Ceremonies like this must continue so that our children remember and pass on the message down the generations, he said.
After the formal ceremonies he invited everyone present to join in drinking a toast to long life and health of the veterans and to the memory of all who fought and died defending the world from Nazism.
The embassies of the former Soviet republics had laid on speciality food, wine and many varieties of vodka.