A now legendary military parade dedicated to the 24th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution took place on Red Square in Moscow 80 years ago, on November 7, 1941.
Only four and a few months after the outbreak of the Second World War, the enemy was literally on the approaches to Moscow. A fierce fight was going on in the west, just a few dozen kilometers from the Soviet capital. However, this parade took place. It was the first turning point after which the Nazis lost faith in the implementation of the Barbarossa plan, which called for a blitzkrieg.
It should be said that this parade was prepared in an atmosphere of extreme secrecy. Not only did the soldiers, petty and junior officers, but even a significant part of the senior command staff, not know about the upcoming event until the very last moment. Of course, there were some talks in the troops about the possibility of a traditional parade but no one knew for sure. So, the commanders had only to wait for the order.
At the last moment, the beginning of the festive march along the pavement of Moscow's Red Square was postponed two hours earlier. This decision was justified by the fact that there were persistent defensive battles on the outskirts of the capital. The enemy was close to the city and could make every effort to disrupt the parade.
Recall that by that time, all the precaution measures were strictly observed in the capital. For example, the air defense in Moscow was 2 – 2,5 times as dense as in London. Moreover, more than 500 fighters were sent to protect the airspace over the center of Moscow on that day. Black-out was used everywhere. Monuments were protected with sandbags and special wooden shields. The Lenin Mausoleum was turned into a kind of camouflage house, also covered with special unique structures on all sides.
During the traditional meeting of the Moscow Soviet of People’s Deputies before public holidays, which took place on November 6, 1941, at the Mayakovskaya metro station, Joseph Stalin, Supreme Commander of the Soviet Armed Forces, announced the decision to hold a traditional military parade on November 7 to the government members. Only at 11 p.m. on November 6 the commanders of the units that were to march on Red Square heard about the parade. As for air cover for the holiday event, Soviet bombers began preemptive strikes against nearby airfields that were occupied by the enemy as early as November 5.
Stalin himself decided not to evacuate from Moscow. By his example, he showed not only to Soviet citizens but to the rest of the world as well that the USSR capital would not be surrendered to the enemy. By that time, most of the government agencies and decision-makers had been evacuated to Kuibyshev (now Samara).
On November 7, 1941, the entire top leadership of the USSR gathered on the podium of the Mausoleum.
“These are all radio stations of the Soviet Union. The central radio station begins the on-the-spot news coverage of the parade of Red Army units from Red Square in Moscow dedicated to the 24th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution,” all the loudspeakers in the country began broadcasting this unique parade at 8 a.m. Stalin gave a speech to the troops and all the citizens of the USSR, in which he emphasized that the main goals of the German Operation Typhoon had not been achieved and that Nazi Germany had failed to take Moscow by a “whirlwind attack.”
In total, 28,500 people took part in the parade. 140 artillery pieces, 160 tanks, and 232 vehicles went across the cobblestone paved Red Square on that historical day. Aviation did not take part in the parade due to the bad weather but it made its contribution. The units of Moscow Air Defense destroyed 34 enemy planes that day.
According to historians, when Hitler learned about the parade, he “fell into a rage” and ordered the German Air Force Command to bomb Red Square “by all means.” However, there was heavy snowfall in Moscow on November 7. therefore, the Luftwaffe's effectiveness was reduced to near-nothingness for this reason, too.
Only a month left before the Red Army's counteroffensive at Moscow. Our troops were leaving the parade straight to the front. This event was of great political importance because the Red Army showed the whole world that it was ready to fight till the final victory which it gained.