an honorary title conferred on the cities of the USSR—Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol’, and Volgograd—that became famous for their heroic defense during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). Leningrad, Odessa, Sevastopol’, and Stalingrad were first officially called hero-cities in order N20 of May 1, 1945, of the supreme commander.
The defense of Moscow lasted from Sept. 30 to Dec. 5, 1941; the defense of Leningrad, from July 10, 1941, to Jan. 14, 1944; the defense of Kiev, from July 10 to Sept. 19, 1941; the defense of Odessa, from Aug. 5 to Oct. 16, 1941; the defense of Sevastopol’, from Oct. 30, 1941, to July 4, 1942; and the defense of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), from July 17 to Nov. 18, 1942.
To commemorate the exploits of the troops and the mass heroism and bravery of the populaces of these cities, decrees of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR instituted the medals For the Defense of Leningrad, For the Defense of Odessa, For the Defense of Sevastopol’, and For the Defense of Stalingrad on Dec. 22, 1942; For the Defense of Moscow on May 1, 1944; and For the Defense of Kiev on June 21, 1961 (the same decree conferred the title of hero-city on Kiev). They were awarded to all the participants in the defense. An obelisk depicting the Order of Lenin, the Gold Star medal, and the text of the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was raised in each hero-city.