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    02 august, 2014

    Dedicated to buried in oblivion…

    Author: Andrey Kovalchuk, no comments

    On August 1, an official unveiling ceremony for the monument dedicated to the First World War heroes took place at the Poklonnaya Gora (Hill of Respectful Salutation) in Moscow.

    We have been speaking very little about the WWI for many years. There practically were no movies and books, and practically no distinguished monuments had been erected in the memory of warriors killed in the course of the First World War. Presently we are filling gaps in our history and recollecting what had been totally forgotten.

    This event became a turning point for many countries, affected their following development, and became a precursor of many following global changes in the world in the 20th century. Four empires had collapsed in the result of it, and Russia, which had been very close to a victory, got honorless out of it. The new state order did not need this war termed imperialistic; it should have been forgotten and crossed out of the memory.

    In the meantime, 1.5 million Russian soldiers got killed in this war; several millions more had been wounded. Russia had done a lot to help Serbian and French peoples. We cannot skip remembering this; this would have been neither possible, nor honest.

    And today, 100 years after the beginning of the First World War, historical fairness is being restored. The Russian Military Historical Society had announced a contest for the best design of the monument to heroes of the First World War. Projects which had participated in the contest already are under implementation. Recently, a monument was unveiled in Kaliningrad, and on August 1, another memorial was unveiled in Moscow, on Poklonnaya Gora.

    The memorial is composed of three elements: a figure of a soldier on a column, a “Russian banner” allegoric composition, and a horizontal stele with the text “To Heroes of the First World War.” We should point out that text is executed in big letters made of stainless steel and can be seen from far away, so that people could see it even driving by and understand what this memorial is dedicated to right away.
    The dominant of the monument is the sculpture of the soldier put on a foundation. The lower part of the pedestal is made of bronze and images the earth after a battle, with jackboot footsteps and weapons leftovers.

    This ordinary soldier with a St. George Ribbon is the true hero of war; he had endured the entire war, had honestly served to his motherland. This is not an official portrait of a soldier; this is a portrait of a man who had met with dignity all the trials of the several war years, lost many of his comrades, and, possibly, had been wounded himself. He is not young, and, quite possibly, he had been through the Russia-Japan War as well; we also cannot exclude that the great Patriotic War was also in his future fate…

    The image of a Russian soldier who presently is in the center of the square at the entrance to the Poklonnaya Gora, in our opinion, is quite symbolic. This is a tribute to the memory of all warriors killed for their Motherlands in the 20th century.

    The “Russian Banner” allegoric composition is a complex space sculpture revealing various stories; it even has a colored tricolor flag in it. This is an image of Russia which had passed through tragedies and trials fallen on her lot. The First World War, Revolution, Civil War…

    However, despite out striving for generalization, and Vladimir Vysotsky’s lines “there is no single individual fate here, all fates had been merged in one” most accurately reveal the gist of our composition, we could not spare real stories of particular people.

    For example, working on the “mounted attack” composition, we included an image of a Cossack prototyped by St. George Ribbon holder of 1914 Kozma Kryuchkov.  This was a legendary person of his time: all streets were covered with his posters. Later on, he joined the White Guard movement and was killed in 1919. No doubt, he had never been mentioned again in the soviet times. There are lots of such forgotten, crossed out lives. And we absolutely must remember them today: we have who to be proud of.

    I am not going to describe the monument in each and every detail; it would be much better to come and see it.

    We hope that our job will raise interest among people of various generations. And children, walking with their parents on Poklonnaya Gora will see the monument, read the wording and ask the parents, “What is this? Who is this?” We believe that parents should be able to tell them.

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