International Workers’ Day (1 May) and Victory Day (9 May) in Russia

International Workers’ Day (1 May) and Victory Day (9 May) in Russia

David Rilley-Harris
DITSONG: National Museum of Military History
April 2021

In 1889, a meeting of the Marxist International Socialist Congress chose 1 May as the date to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre (4 May 1886) where police in Chicago, USA, fired on and killed protestors who were demanding an eight-hour work day. This meeting also set up the Second International as an organisation to succeed the International Workingmen’s Association. The date was meant as an annual opportunity to incite protest in favour of workers’ rights and became known in most countries as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day. In Russia it became known as the Day of International Workers Solidarity until 1992 when it was renamed the Day of Spring and Labour.

1 May rally in Moscow 1960 (Wikipedia).

In Russia 1 May began as a day of protest, and “celebrations” on that date were made illegal. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union maintained 1 May as an important official holiday celebrated with civil and military parades. A notable 1 May parade in Russia was in 1941 and hosted a German military delegation less than two months before Germany invaded Russia. Until 1965, the only 1 May celebrations which had been cancelled were the ones during Russia’s time in the Second World War where the Soviet Union lost 27 million lives. In 1965, a 1 May celebration was cancelled to make way for the Moscow Victory Day Parade to remember Russian sacrifice and celebrate Russian victory in the war. Military parades continued being held on 1 May until 1969, and in 1979 there was a brief exhibition drill and military tattoo of the Moscow Garrison. Steadily, the 1 May was again becoming a date on which to protest for workers’ rights, and the 9 May celebrations took precedence in Soviet government planning of celebrations.

Victory Day was celebrated throughout the Soviet Union’s existence as well as in satellite countries of the Eastern Bloc. From 1965, Russians could enjoy Victory Day on 9 May as a day off work. The Russian heroism of the Second World War, or the Great Patriotic War, became increasingly important as the events of the Cold War placed ever increasing pressure on the Soviet Union.

With the Cold War ending, 1 May regained prominence quickly. In 1991, fifty thousand people rallied in Red Square and, in 1992, there was “a rally of communist-orientated organisations” in Red Square. While 1 May remains prominent in Russia, there have been efforts to prevent protests and the day was renamed the Day of Spring and Labour in 1992, taking some of the bite out of it. Initially, the 9 May celebrations became much more frugal after the Cold War but that began to change again with the rise of Vladimir Putin. In 2005 and 2015, the 60th and 70th anniversaries of Victory Day became the largest popular holidays in Russia since the end of the Cold War.

Russia continues to work on retaining the world’s memory of Russia’s massive contribution in the Second World War, and in the DITSONG: National Military History Museum, the South African chapter of a Russian organisation called the Volunteers of Victory, is building a new display commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad

Victory Day, Moscow, 2005 (Wikipedia)

Different types of Trade Unions in South Africa

Different types of Trade Unions in South Africa

Tinyeko Captain Ndhlovu, Curator, DNMMH
APRIL 31, 2021

Trade unions in South Africa (SA) have been in existence for many decades, which is historically date back into 1880s. From the early days trade unions were predominantly European men organisation. As time goes trade unions get transformed as new Non-European trade unions were established. Trade unions began to open its doors to all workers of race and gender. However, trade unions get involved in politics, economy, and other social activities, which was largely encountered with resistance. This article focuses of the historical development of trade unions and the different types of trade unions in South Africa.

The historical development of trade unions

Trade unions have a hallmark history, which is linked to the struggle against apartheid system, the violation of human rights and labour exploitation in the country. They also have been a vital agent of social transformation and played a significant role of social responsibility which was largely ignored. People in general had negative perceptions about trade unions. Most they are assuming that trade unions served a little purpose other than to endorse industrial unrest and create difficulties for employers. However, the main purpose of the trade unions is to be a watchdog over the relationship between employees and their employers. There are international and national statutory bodies which regulates trades unions.

In South Africa, trade unions are currently regulated under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the LRA). Post 1994, the new democratic SA government has broadly transformed the labour laws. The South African Constitution safeguard and guarantees workers the right to freedom of association and the formation of trade unions. These rights are also regulated in terms of the LRA.  South Africa as country is the member of International Labour Organisation (ILO) which sets international standards on the role of the trade unions. SA trade unions have also been affiliated with/and endorsed by a various number of international conventions such as International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), World Federation Trade Union (WFTU), International Confederation Federation Trade Union (ICFTU-AFRO), which constitute international law and human rights law, and these have influenced the development of labour law in South Africa.

Definition of trade union: “An association of workers whose main purpose is to regulate relations between employees and employers, including any employers’ organisation” – the LRA.  “Any organisation, whose association involves of workers, which seeks to organise and advocates their members’ interests both in the workplace and society, and, in specific, seeks to regulate their employment relationship through the direct process of collective bargaining with employers/management” – the Salamon.

Different types of SA trade unions

There are different types of trade unions in South Africa: Craft, Industrial, General and Federation. They operate in three levels which are local, national and federation. South Africa is member of International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is the first largest trade union federation with 21 affiliated trade unions in South Africa.  COSATU was founded on the 30 November 1985 and officially launched on the 31 December 1985. It is affiliated with the ITUC, WFTU, and ICFTU-AFRO. COSATU is also the member of Tripad Alliance, which is African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU. It has revolutionary motto quoting “An injury to one is an injury to all” reveals the vision the union has of social solidarity that binds the working class.  COSATU key leadership include Zingiswa Losi President, and Bheki Ntshalintshali General Secretary. Office location at Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is the second largest national trade union centre federation or confederation in South Africa. FEDUSA was founded on the 1 April 1997. It is affiliated with the ITUC.  Its key leadership include Godfrey Selamatsela, President and Riefdah Ajam, General Secretary and Martle Keyter Deputy Secretary. Office location at Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa.



The Confederation of South African Workers’ Unions (CONSAWU) is one of four national trade union centres South Africa, CONSAWU is affiliated with the ITUC.  Its key leadership include Mr. Joe Mfingwana, President; Mrs Thelma Louw, Deputy President; Mr. Khulile Nkushubana, General Secretary. Office location at Pretoria Centurion, Gauteng South Africa.


The National  Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) is a national trade union centre in South Africa.  It was founded in 1986 affiliated with the ITUC.  Its leadership include Narius Moloto, General Secretary. NACTU office is located in Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa.



The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is of the second largest trade union confederation in South Africa with 21 affiliated trade unions organising 800,000 workers. SAFTU was founded on the 21 April 2017. Its key leadership include Mac Chavalala, President, Nomvume Ralarala, First Deputy President and Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary.



Trade unions in South Africa has developed from the European men organisation to the labour movements that has open doors to all workers of race and gender. South Africa have a strong background legislation which has developed from wore to better since the first the trade unions were established in the country. Trade unions got involved into politics and struggle against the apartheid system, violation of human rights and against the labour exploitation. Finally, the new democratic era, post 1994, has ushered the freedom for all workers to associate and join party of their own choice. South African Constitution and Labour Relations Acts of 1995 regulates these rights and trades unions. Today we are proudly having large federations which are COSATU, FEDUSA, NACTU, CONSAWU and SAFTU. Most trade unions in the country affiliated with these large federations. For instance, at Ditsong Museums of South Africa an Agent of Department of Sport, Art, and Culture (DSAC), have two official trade unions which are NEHAWU which is affiliating to COSATU and SAPTU which is affiliating FEDUSA.


Labour Relations Acts of 1995

Trade union Training Authority Act of 2000

Salamon, M. Industrial Relations Theory and Practice 3ed (1998)

Websites Visited

Adolf Galland flies a prototype Messerschmitt Me 262

Adolf Galland flies a prototype Messerschmitt Me 262

MAY 1943
Allan Sinclair
DITSONG: National Museum of Military History
April 2021



May 2021 marks the 78th anniversary of the first flight made by the famous German air ace of the Second World War (1939 – 1945), Adolf Galland, in a prototype Messerschmitt Me 262. The Me 262 was the first operational jet fighter to enter front line service during the Second World War. It was more than 160km/h faster than any of its piston driven contemporary aircraft and, as such, changed the face of aerial combat overnight. The DITSONG: National Museum of Military History (DNMMH) has a rare example of a two-seater Me 262 night fighter on display.

Messerschmitt Me 262 B-1a/U1 on display at the DNMMH

The Messerschmitt Me 262

Design work on the Me 262 commenced in 1939 and the production of the first airframes began in 1941. At first there was little priority given to the development of the new aircraft. Germany held the upper hand in almost every theatre of the war and these successes were achieved using conventional piston engine aircraft such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.

At the time the development of the jet engine was still in progress and initial flights were carried out using a piston engine and a propeller fitted in the nose. As a result of the slow development of a suitable engine, aircraft production only began in earnest in July 1944. Problems continued after delivery as the engines only had a practical lifespan of ten to twelve hours between overhauls. The engines also became prone to ‘flame-out’ during manoeuvres or changes in throttle settings and were difficult to re-start in mid-flight.

Despite these problems, the Me 262 eventually became a fine engineering achievement. The jet fighter could climb to 30 000 ft (9,14 km) in less than ten minutes and outrun the fastest Allied fighters such as the Republic P 47 Thunderbolt, the North-American P 51 Mustang and the De Havilland Mosquito.

Adolf Galland

Adolf Josef Ferdinand Galland was born on 19 March 1912 in Westphalia, a region in north-western Germany, into a family of French Huguenot ancestry. He spent a brief period piloting flying boats for Lufthansa prior to being recruited into a programme started in 1933 to secretly build a new German air force. In 1937 he joined the German Condor Legion sent to Spain to support the Spanish Nationalist forces led by Francisco Franco in the Civil War (1936 – 1939).  On his return to Germany Galland spent several months formulating policy for the German Air Ministry. This policy reflected his expertise in close air support of ground force operations and would later become known as Blitzkrieg.

Adolf Galland 1941 (Galland, 1955)

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Galland was allocated to a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter squadron. His successes in combat led to a number of promotions and he achieved the rank of Generalmajoor (Major General) at the age of 30.  In January 1942 he was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and with Diamonds for his achievement of 96 victories in aerial combat.

Galland and the Me 262

In May 1943, Willy Messerschmitt, Chief designer for Messerschmitt AG, informed Galland of the test flights taking place on Me 262 prototypes and requested that Galland fly the aircraft and evaluate it for himself. A favourable report from Galland would go a long way to convincing the German Supreme Command to mass produce the new aircraft.

Galland always remembered the day he first flew the jet fighter. He wrote that there was no engine vibration, no torque and no lashing noise from the propeller during take-off. The jet automatically shot through the air accompanied by a whistling sound.  When later asked what it had felt like, Galland remarked “… it was like the angels were pushing” [1].

In a letter written to the Head of Production of Aircraft for the Luftwaffe, Galland stated the following:

“…The aircraft is a great hit.  It will guarantee us a great advantage in operations while the enemy adheres to the piston engine. Its air worthiness makes the best impression.  The engines are absolutely convincing, except during take-off and landing.  This aircraft opens up new tactical possibilities” [2].

However, Galland later incurred the wrath of Adolf Hitler when he vehemently disagreed with the latter’s decision to deploy the Me 262 as a bomber. In January 1945 the differences reached a climax when Galland was dismissed from his position as Chief of Fighter Pilots. He immediately sought approval to return to active duty and was, surprisingly, granted permission to form his own unit which would be equipped with the Me 262.

The Messerschmitt Me 262 B-1a/U1 on display at the DITSONG: National Museum of Military History

The aircraft on display at the Museum, designated Me 262 B-1a/U1, was a two-seater trainer aircraft modified further as a night fighter to cater for the urgent need for an aircraft capable of combating the night-raiding British De Havilland Mosquito. These modified aircraft remained in use until a re-designed night fighter version with a lengthened fuselage was eventually produced.

The DNMMH Me 262 after being captured in Denmark in May 1945

The aircraft bears the identification number ‘Red 8’ and was allocated to Staffel 10 of Nachjagdeschwader 11 stationed at Burg-bei-Magdeburg to the south-west of Berlin. During the final weeks of the war, this unit was forced to operate from improvised airfields which made use of autobahns as runways.  On the ground the aircraft were dispersed between the tees extending along the roads which necessitated the aircraft being painted in locally-designed camouflage patterns that suited the surroundings.


[1] . A Galland, The First and the Last, p 331.

[2] . A Galland, p 333.

In April 1945, the unit moved north to Lubek before finally transferring to Schleswig in Denmark.  The aircraft were surrendered to the Royal Air Force on 6 May 1945 and flown to Britain for evaluation.  The Museum’s aircraft was sent to South Africa in 1947 and was kept by the South African Air Force at Dunottar.  In 1972 the aircraft was donated to the Museum by the SAAF.


Adolf Galland’s first flight in a Me 262 in May 1943 heralded the beginning of the jet age. After the Me 262 had become operational, all aircraft producing nations began to develop their own jet aircraft. The operational history of the Me 262 was very short – a mere nine months. However, Galland’s prediction that the aircraft would open up new tactical possibilities would prove to be true. Not long after the conclusion of the Second World War, new jet fighters such as the British Gloster Meteor, the United States North-American F 86 Sabre and the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig 15 were emulating the Me 262 in aerial combat over Korea during the war that took place there between 1950 and 1953.



Eastaugh, D, “Me 262: The Beginnings of the Jet Age” on SA Flyer, October 2002.

Tillman, B, “Adolf Galland: The Luftwaffe’s Fighter General”


Galland, A, The First and the Last (London, Methuen & Co, 1955).

Spear, J H A, A Catalogue of the Aircraft and Aircraft Engines on Display at the SA (Ditsong) National Museum of Military History (Johannesburg, DNMMH, 1991).