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The Sacred War (Russian: Священная война Svyashchennaya Voyna, also known as Вставай, страна огромная! "Arise, Great (Vast) Country!") was one of the most famous Soviet songs associated with the Second World War. It was written by request of Joseph Stalin in 1941, just predating the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The music is by Aleksandr Aleksandrov, founder of the Alexandrov Ensemble and the music composer for the National Anthem of the Soviet Union. The lyrics are by Vasily Lebedev-Kumach.

The circumstances of the composition and first performance of the song were hurried; the lyrics were published on 24 June 1941, and Aleksandrov immediately wrote the music for them, writing the notes out on a blackboard for the singers to copy manually. The first performance was on 26 June at Belorussky Rail Terminal, where according to eye-witnesses it was sung five times in succession.[1]

There are a number of foreign-language adaptations of this song, among them the German version Der Heilige Krieg (written by Stephan Hermlin) and the Hungarian version Fel, küzdelemre, hõs haza.

In the 1990s, Russian media published the allegation that the lyrics had been plagiarized by Lebedev-Kumach, and that they were indeed written during the First World War by one A. A. Bode (1865–1939). These claims were taken to court, and the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta in June 2000 was forced to publish a retraction of the claim.[2] Levshaev (2000) still upheld doubts on the authorship, and on the reasonableness of the court's decision.[3]

The song has been used during the march of the color guard in Victory Day parades in both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, such as the 2010 Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2010.


  1. В. Олару. Стихотворение в газете Независимая Молдова, 21 июня 2001 ( link)
  2. Опровержение Независимая газета, 5 июля 2000; A. Barinov, Бард сталинской эпохи. 105 лет со дня рождения Василия Лебедева-Кумача, «АиФ Долгожитель» № 15 (27) от 8 августа 2003 г.
  3. Е. М. Левашев. Судьба песни // Архив наследия — 2000 / Сост. и науч. ред. Плужников В. И.; РАН. Российский Научно-исследовательский институт культурного и природного наследия им. Д. С. Лихачёва. — М.: Институт Наследия, 2001, 305–330 (online version).

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