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Great Patriotic war

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Great Patriotic war

This article is about the term. For the military details, see Eastern Front (World War II).
Not to be confused with Patriotic War of 1812.

The term Great Patriotic War (Russian: Вели́кая Оте́чественная война́ Velíkaya Otéchestvennaya voyná[1]) is used in Russia and some other former republics of the Soviet Union to describe the period from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945 in the many fronts of the eastern campaign of World War II between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany with its allies.

The canonical end of Great Patriotic War is 9 May 1945, but for some legal purposes its period is extended to 11 May 1945 to include the end of the Prague Offensive.[2]

Since the early 1980s, the Great Patriotic War is sometimes referred to in Russian texts by the acronym "ВОВ", but this abbreviation is often criticized as "clearly failed, contradicting both to the signified notion and to linguistic taste" (явно неудачн[ая], противоречащ[ая] и обозначаемому понятию, и языковому вкусу),[3] "clearly disrespectful" (явно неуважительная),[4] "barbaric" (варварская),[5] "absolutely unacceptable" (совершенно недопустим[ая]),[6] "hasty, careless" (торопливая, небрежная)[7] etc.


The term Patriotic War refers to the Russian resistance of the French invasion of Russia under Napoleon I, which became known as the Patriotic War of 1812. In Russian, the term отечественная война originally referred to a war on one's own territory (inside otechestvo, "the fatherland"), as opposed to a campaign abroad (заграничная война),[8] and later was reinterpreted as a war for the fatherland, i.e. a defensive war for one's homeland. Sometimes the war of 1812 was also referred to as Great Patriotic War (Великая отечественная война); the phrase first appeared no later than 1844[9] and became popular on the eve of the centenary of the Patriotic War of 1812.[10]

Since 1914, the phrase was applied to World War I.[11] It was the name of a special war-time appendix to the magazine Theater and Life (Театр и жизнь) in Saint Petersburg, and referred to the Eastern Front of World War I, where Russia fought against the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[11] The phrases Second Patriotic War (Вторая отечественная война) and Great World Patriotic War (Великая всемирная отечественная война) were also used during World War I in Russia.[11]

The term Great Patriotic War re-appeared in the Soviet newspaper Pravda on 23 June 1941, just a day after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. It was found in the title of "The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet People" (Velikaya Otechestvennaya voyna sovetskogo naroda), a long article by Yemelyan Yaroslavsky, a member of Pravda editors' collegium.[11] The phrase was intended to motivate the population to defend the Soviet fatherland and to expel the invader, and a reference to the Patriotic War of 1812 was seen as a great morale booster.

The term Отечественная война (Patriotic War or Fatherland War) was officially recognized by establishment of the Order of the Patriotic War on 20 May 1942, awarded for heroic deeds.


The term is not generally used outside the former Soviet Union (see Eastern Front). There is a difference between this phrase and World War II or the Second World War, as the Russian term denotes only the war between Germany and its European allies, and the Soviet Union. The war with Japan (including the invasion of Manchuria) and the war on the Western front are not referred to by this term.[2] Nor does it cover the Soviet Union's 1939 attacks on Poland, Finland, the 1940 invasion of the Baltic states, or the 1941 invasion of Iran.[2]

See also


External links

  • The Soviet Union Won World War II
  • Documentary films and newsreels about the Great Patriotic War
  • Poems about the Great Patriotic War
  • Bryan Fugate, Operation Barbarossa: Strategy And Tactics On The Eastern Front, 1941

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