The Time Russia Ran Out of Vodka

Yevgeny Khaldei/Corbis
Yevgeny Khaldei/Corbis / Yevgeny Khaldei/Corbis

by Judy Dutton

At 1:10 a.m. on May 9, 1945, night owls in the USSR heard a radio report that Nazi Germany had officially surrendered to the Soviet Union. Rather than wait until morning to celebrate, citizens took to the streets in their pajamas. The revelry reached such a fever pitch that by the time Joseph Stalin addressed the nation 22 hours later, the Soviets faced a new crisis: The entire country had run out of vodka!

It turns out a nation-wide hangover was small price to pay for peace in Europe. As one reporter put it, “I was lucky to buy a liter of vodka at the train station when I arrived, because it was impossible to buy any later ... There was no vodka in Moscow on May 10; we drank it all.”