The March of the Immortal Regiment is a recent tradition which is part of the annual Moscow Victory Day Parade

Russian journalist and politician, Alexander Nevzorov has criticised it:

(Inaccurate translation)

"The march in honor of the victory (the immortal regiment), which takes place in Russia, in Moscow every year on May 9th is nothing more than a cult from the Third Reich, borrowed by the Soviet Union (Russia). It was in Germany that various cults were created, and such a phenomenon as a march in honor of the victory was created in Germany..."

Is the March of the Immortal Regiment a cult of the German Third Reich?

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    Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made.
    – Oddthinking
    May 12, 2019 at 0:59
  • Sorry, for it question, probably many peoples dont understand what I ask, but i mean as next: Soviet Union began to hold victory parades because he worked closely with Nazi Germany, and moreover, these countries even had a joint 1939 victory parade? May 12, 2019 at 1:03
  • I dont know, how it say correctly, I speak English very bad ( May 12, 2019 at 1:04
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    @0-LevelUNIXMonk I think what we are interested in is: Where did you get the original Russian version of the claim? (or the translated version) May 12, 2019 at 6:22
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    @0-LevelUNIXMonk: Also victory marches was not created in Germany, what about ancient Roman marches? May 12, 2019 at 21:22

2 Answers 2


I'm guessing I understand the question (which isn't phrased perfectly clearly, I'm sorry).

We all know that both the Soviets and the Nazis were fond of military parades. For example, here's their joint victory parade in occupied Poland, held during the years when they were friends and allies:

enter image description here

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_military_parade_in_Brest-Litovsk )

But the question is not whether the Russians/Soviets took the idea of annual military parades from the Nazis (of course not! such parades predate both the Soviets and the Nazis) but the specific practice of carrying portraits of the war dead through the streets. Here is a Wikipedia article https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%91%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%81%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%82%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B9_%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%BA (sorry, no English version). It states that the first such official march was organized in Russia in 2012 in the city of Tomsk (alhtough some people carried porrtraits of the dead in prior years in Novosibirsk and Tyumen) and then spread widely and rapidly and became a standard part of a May celebration of the VE anniversary.

Here's Russian president Putin marching with a portrait of his father: Russian president Putin marching with a portrait of his father

(source: https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/media/img/9/22/754628021929229.jpg ) there are several more phorographs of Russian processions in the Moscow Times story cited in the question.

Well, guess who else liked to display portraits of their falled comrades?

Russian journalist Alexander Nevzorov said the following on quasi-opposition radio station Echo of Moscow in May 2019:

The Reich, as we know, was very fond of pathetic processions and never lost an opportunity to hold them. Moreover, it was their Reich that gave birth to them. Because if you studied the cult of the Third Reich, you should know where the idea of the Immortal Regiment came from. This idea was born in the depths of "Ahnenerbe". Remember what Ahnenerbe is, how is it translated? This is the “Ancestral Heritage”. This is the Reich Occult Institute.

Quotation source: https://echo.msk.ru/programs/nevsredy/2421725-echo/ (In Russian; my+Google's translation)

Indeed, 3rd Reich sometimes displayed and honored the portraits of their dead. But they were static displays, not carried around.

Uniformed SA members stand as an Honor Guard alongside a portrait of Horst Wessel: Uniformed SA members stand as an Honor Guard alongside a portrait of Horst Wessel.

(Horst Wessel was a Nazi who got killed in a fight with Communists during Hitler's rise to power in Germany.)

There's some connection between Nazis' honoring the portraits of their dead and Ahnenerbe / Thule Society / some Nazis' intense interest in the occult.

Indeed, 3rd Reich was very fond of mass rallies and processions: enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

However, while the similarities are clear, I'm unable to find even a single photograph of pre-1945 Nazis carrying portraits of their dead on sticks at rallies. They did carry swastikas on sticks, rather than portrairs, a lot:

enter image description here

(source: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/color-photos-from-nazi-germany/ )

I did find several photographs of German right-wing "Alternative for Germany" (AfD; officially founded in 2013) carrying portraits of dead people at a 2018 rally in Chemnitz, for example:

enter image description here

(Source: https://www.ft.com/content/d851b646-c7d6-11e8-ba8f-ee390057b8c9 )


enter image description here

(Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wing-protests-fueled-anti-immigrant-sentiment-continue-germany/story?id=57545743 )

enter image description here

(Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/german-minister-mistakes-made-in-chemnitz-suspects-cases/ )

enter image description here

The timing suggests that the Russians may have borrowed the "Immortal regiment" ritual from the AfD, rather than directly from pre-1945 Nazis.

  • 1
    I agree. Carrying portraits of the dead footsoldiers of some war is fine propaganda after the war is won , before, it's just a bummer.
    – bukwyrm
    Jul 29, 2019 at 4:43
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    @Dimitri, thanks a lot. Very fine research! Jul 30, 2019 at 11:46
  • The photos of AfD in 2018 can hardly serve as evidence of their influence on a Russian parade in 2012.
    – IMil
    Jul 31, 2019 at 6:22
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    @DimitriVulis I was under the impression that this particular SE site takes pride in its high standards of proof, therefore photos of a certain movement in 2018 are completely unacceptable as a proof of its influence on a 2012 Russian event. What's more, you now have admitted that your statement "Russians may have borrowed the ritual from the AfD" is factually wrong because this particular party didn't even exist at that time. I'd recommend you to revise your answer.
    – IMil
    Jul 31, 2019 at 12:49
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    Actually, it would be much better if you deleted your answer altogether because it's just an unsalvageable pile of unfounded conjectures. The key difference between the "Immortal Regiment" and the examples you've shown is that Horst Wessel and the people whose portraits are carried by AdF are intended to be, essentially, martyrs. Their portraits are meant to incite hatred towards groups of people allegedly responsible for their deaths. During IR people carry portraits of their ancestors who fought in WW2, regardless of whether they were killed or survived. The message is respect, not hatred.
    – IMil
    Jul 31, 2019 at 13:08

It is utterly and completely untrue to say that the tradition of holding parades and marches to celebrate a victory comes from Nazi Germany. Victory parades were held in Ancient Roman times, and have continued on and off ever since.

Napoleon held a victory parade in 1810, and the Allies held parades to celebrate his defeat in 1815. There were victory parades following WW1 and WW2 by the victorious allies.

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    I think this is about whether a specific victory parade is inspired by Nazi Germany (not parades in general). May 13, 2019 at 19:09
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    If a country decides to hold a victory parade, how can you tell if it was inspired by Nazi Germany, Napoleon or Ancient Rome? May 13, 2019 at 19:10
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    See, this is the problem with the question. Well, maybe not exactly. I now want to say: Maybe Russia is copying a Nazi Germany tradition. (Which as you pointed out, doesn't mean it's bad.) I am not supporting that the tradition is copied. I think we need context (e.g. from where the claim came from). May 13, 2019 at 19:11
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    Also you end up in the territory of "The Nazis did it, so it must be bad", which leads you to things like "Hitler liked dogs, so we should all hate dogs." May 13, 2019 at 19:12
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    i also doubt that a victory parade in this style, i.e. with pictures of individual dead family members, would have flown in nazi germany. there would have been a giant monument and a parade, for a victory. families showing their losses would not have been sanctioned.
    – bukwyrm
    May 17, 2019 at 18:59

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