Motherland

Russia
Russia, Volgograd – January 2020.I come to Volgograd twice a year. And every time I come to Mamayev Kurgan and take pictures. And the most amazing thing is that they are always different. For The new year to the family and in the summer to enjoy the hot southern sun. The average temperature in summer is +25-30 degrees.

Where does the Motherland begin?

Every Russian has his own answer to this question.  Everyone has their own associations, because everyone was born in a certain region.  First, Russia is the largest country in the world, and it has so many different regions with completely different climate, religion, and individual traditions that one person’s associations with the Motherland will be associated with the ocean and fish, another with snowy mountains, and a third with endless steppes. And they are all citizens of the same country. 

For a resident of Saint Petersburg, Russia is primarily the Gulf of Finland. This was the response of most of my friends who were born and raised here. Recently, a friend of mine from Mexico asked the question “how do residents of the European part of Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg) differ from the Asian part of Russia (Vladivostok)?”. And I, to be honest, could not find an exact answer to this question. On the one hand, we celebrate the same holidays, eat the same traditional dishes for the New Year, and speak the same language. But I, for example, have never seen the ocean, I do not know what it is in winter-40 degrees, I have never breathed the smog that my friends from Siberia breathed, and I have not eaten crabs and real red caviar. But I have my own associations with my homeland.

A resident of Volgograd has only one Association: the Motherland on Mamayev Kurgan. A big part of my life, I have lived here in the city-hero, which used to be called Stalingrad and before that Tsaritsyn. And I will say one thing: everyone I ask is proud to be a resident of this city. When I lived in Germany and communicated with the Germans, they admired the fact that I was from Volgograd and asked a lot of questions. People from Saint Petersburg told me: I would like to come to your city to see this magnificent statue.

Russia, Volgograd – June 2016. The competition to create a monument in Stalingrad was announced in September 1944. It was attended by famous architects and soldiers who sent their sketches by military field mail. The architect Georgy Martsinkevich proposed to put a high column with the figure of Stalin at the top.Projects came even from abroad-from Morocco and Shanghai. Interestingly, the future Creator of the Motherland, Yevgeny Vuchetich, did not participate in the competition. There were legends that he discussed his project directly with Stalin.

Patriotism in Volgograd is laid from early childhood. When I was at school, we always had veterans and heroes of the great Patriotic war (world war II) come to us, and I even had a teacher at school who survived the entire war. And the dates of July 17 (the beginning of the battle of Stalingrad), February 2 (the end of the battle of Stalingrad) and, of course, may 9 (victory day) are known to everyone. Especially the last 2.  I remember when I was in Junior school, we met veterans at school, they told us about the war. We came on February 2 and in a smart uniform also prepared our performances. And on may 9, Victory Day is celebrated here as the main holiday of the city. On this day, a million tourists come to Volgograd from all over the world.  Then we constantly went to Mamayev Kurgan with the school, to the main Museum of the city – “Panorama”, constantly went to the monuments of the heroes of the great Patriotic war and laid flowers, learned poems about the war by heart.

Russia, Volgograd – June 2016. The sculpture should have been different. It was supposed that next to the female figure there would be a statue of a kneeling soldier holding out his sword to the Motherland. After approval from above, the sculptor changed the project. He had an important ideological argument: a soldier could not hand over his sword to anyone, because the war was not over yet.

Thanks to the events of the battle of Stalingrad (July 17, 1942-February 2, 1943), in may 1959, under the direction of the sculptor E. V. Vuchetich, the construction of a monument-ensemble “to the Heroes of the battle of Stalingrad”began on Mamayev Kurgan. Construction of the monument “Motherland calls!” was started in may 1959 and completed on October 15, 1967. The sculpture at the time of its creation was the tallest statue in the world.
The main monument of the ensemble is one of the tallest statues in the world, the highest statue in Russia and Europe (without a pedestal — the tallest statue in the world at the time of construction and for the next 22 years). The sculpture is a multi-meter figure of a woman who stepped forward with a raised sword. The statue is an allegorical image of the Motherland calling its sons to battle with the enemy.

I have not lived in Volgograd for more than three years, but when I come here, I always come to Mamayev Kurgan, and I remember my childhood, how my father and I used to go here for every holiday, how I went to every may 9. It’s part of my life, part of my soul. I will always be proud of the fact that I was born in this city and when the word “homeland”in my head will always be the image of the sculpture “Motherland”.

Russia, Volgograd – January 2017. The monument “Motherland calls!” was not fixed during construction: it stands on the ground due to its own weight. Inside the statue, metal ropes are stretched, which make it more stable and maintain the rigidity of the metal frame.
Russia, Volgograd – July 2017. Everyone who comes by train to Volgograd sees this monument from the window of their car. As if the Motherland meets it.
Russia, Volgograd – August 2018. The military hall of fame looks like a top hat. The most important element in it is the five-meter hand of a dead warrior, clutching a torch. Both day and night, the torch burns with an eternal flame.On the walls of the Hall, 34 funeral banners are laid out in mosaic, which list 7200 names of soldiers who died in the defense of Stalingrad. Under the ceiling runs the St. George ribbon, which reads: “Yes, we were mere mortals, and few of us survived, but we all fulfilled our Patriotic duty to the sacred mother Country!”
Russia, Volgograd – August 2018. According to Nikita Khrushchev, one of the main conditions for accepting this project was necessarily a much higher height of the figure of the “Motherland” than the Statue of Liberty (46 meters) in new York.
Russia, Volgograd – August 2018. Monument “Sorrow”. The figure of a grieving mother, in whose arms rests a fallen warrior. His face is covered with a battle banner. The woman’s head is bowed, she mourns the deceased, and with him all those who gave their lives for the sake of victory. This monument combines the image of all the women whose sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers were taken away by the war. At the base of the monument is a small pool-the lake of tears.
Russia, Volgograd – August 2018. Heroes’ square. In the center of Heroes ‘ square there is a giant pool that symbolizes the Volga river. To the right of the pool – six sculptures, each of which shows moments of battle: a soldier supports an exhausted friend, a nurse carries a wounded man, an infantryman with a grenade throws himself under the tracks of a fascist tank… And also at the exit from the square, a time capsule with the appeal of war veterans to their descendants is immured in the wall. The capsule should be opened on may 9, 2045 – the day of the centenary of the great victory.
Russia, Volgograd – July 2019. In 2019, 52 years after the construction was completed, it was decided to conduct a large-scale reconstruction of the sculpture ” Motherland calls!”. This was primarily due to preparations for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Victory.
Russia, Volgograd – August 2019. Many tourists postponed their trip to Volgograd due to the reconstruction of the sculpture. But I believe on the contrary, that in such an original form, on the contrary, it is worth seeing.
Russia, Volgograd – January 2020. The sculpture “Stand to death” is a monument of a warrior-defender, the collective image of which has the external features of Marshal V. I. Chuikov, commander of the 62nd army. At the base of the sculpture there are inscriptions: “Beyond the Volga there is no Land for us”, “to Stand to the death”, ” Not a step back!”, “We will not shame the sacred memory”, “Every house is a fortress”. With these words, the fearless defenders of Stalingrad went into battle, fighting for their native land. “Stand to the death!» – these words became the inner conviction of all the defenders of Stalingrad.

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