Jewish World War II veterans who fought with the Soviet Red Army marched in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Tuesday to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany 73 years ago by the Soviet Union.
Dozens of veterans, who are now over 90 years old, arrived at the march accompanied by their families, the Israel Police Orchestra and the Knesset Guard, wearing full uniform, adorned in their medals and brandishing photos of soldiers killed in action. The annual march, which has been held in Jerusalem since late ‘90, was taking place at the Knesset for the first time.
Avraham Stobum, who was a soldier in the Red Army in Kiev, now in the Ukraine, marched with his granddaughter Shelly. “I fought the Nazis in Kiev while they killed all my family in the concentration camps,” Stobum told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “It was a terrible war. I made aliyah in 1991 and now I have four nephews and six grand nephews, I finally feel at home here,” Stobum said.
Roman Raphaelov, a 20-year-old IDF soldier came to the march to commemorate his grandfather who fought with the Red Army infantry corps in Dagestan in the North Caucasus region.
“My great-grandmother was also a soldier in the Red Army” he recalled. “She was an army cook in Yerevan, now Armenia’s capital,” he said.
The march was celebrated this year at the Knesset after last July the parliament passed the Victory Day Over Nazi Germany law, which states that the Knesset will mark the occasion by holding a special session, hosting World War II veterans who live in Israel, heads of foreign missions and other guests.
At the Knesset ceremony organized by Minister of Aliyah and Integration Sofa Landver, the daughter of Red Army officer Hirsch Kuchin, a hero of the Second World War, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein praised the veterans. Edelstein also related to the tension between Israel and Iran. “We should resist evil powers like Germany at that time or Iran now,” he said.
Some half a million Jews fought in the Red Army in World War II. Most the veterans built families and careers in the Soviet Union after the war, but when the Communist regime collapsed, many of them emigrated to Israel.