Parade of Germans in Moscow or "Big Waltz"

Did you know that in July 1944 more than 40, 000 Germans marched through the main streets of the capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow. You will say: "It cannot be!", But this is a fact ...

During Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944, the German Army Group Center was defeated. About 400, 000 soldiers and officers were killed or captured. Of the 47 Wehrmacht generals who fought as commanders of corps and divisions, 21 were taken prisoner. A good opportunity presented itself to demonstrate to the allies the success of the USSR in the war, to raise the morale of the population. It was decided to lead the captured Germans led by their generals through the streets of Moscow and Kiev. The operation, which was carried out by the NKVD, was named after the pre-war American musical comedy "The Big Waltz" as if in mockery.

On July 17, 1944, Muscovites heard on the radio a message from the head of the capital's militia: today, German prisoners of war of the rank and file and officers from among those captured shortly before by the troops of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Belorussian fronts will be escorted through Moscow. The same information appeared on the front page of the latest issue of the Pravda newspaper.

In the morning, the prisoners were gathered at the hippodrome, after which the columns (along the front 20 people) at 11 o'clock began to move along two routes under the leadership of the commander of the Moscow Military District, Colonel-General Pavel Artemyev. The first route ran along Leningradskoye Highway (now Leningradsky Prospekt) and Gorky Street (now Tverskaya) to Mayakovsky Square (now Triumfalnaya) and further along the Garden Ring (clockwise).

The movement of 42 thousand prisoners of war lasted 2 hours and 25 minutes. Some of them arrived at the Kursk railway station, others turned from the Garden Ring to Kalyaevskaya Street (now Dolgorukovskaya) or to 1st Meshchanskaya (now Prospect Mira).

At the head of the column were 1227 people who had officer and general ranks in the Wehrmacht. Among them were 19 generals who went in orders (under the terms of surrender they were left with a general's uniform, insignia, orders), six colonels and lieutenant colonels.

Another 15.6 thousand prisoners of war moved from Mayakovsky Square along the Garden Ring counterclockwise, bypassing Bolshaya Sadovaya, Sadovo-Kudrinskaya, Smolenskaya squares, heading to Kaluzhskaya Square and further along Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya (now Leninsky Prospekt), with the ultimate goal of the Kanatchikovo Okruzhnaya railway station road, having been on the way for 4 hours and 20 minutes.

The prisoners were accompanied by horsemen with naked swords and guards with rifles at the ready.

Water sprinklers followed the prisoners, symbolically washing the dirt off the asphalt. The parade ended by seven o'clock in the evening, when all the prisoners were accommodated in the cars and were sent to places of detention. Medical assistance was provided to four prisoners.

In general, the attitude to the parade of "prisoners" in Germany is still associated with the violation of the Geneva Conference (1929) on "the protection of prisoners of war from insults and curiosity of the crowd."