The heroic deeds of the Soviet people during the Great Patriotic War are immortalized in the numerous sculptural ensembles. Made of granite, marble, bronze and metal, they remind post-war generations of those unforgettable events.
During the war the Soviet army fought 6 giant battles and launched about 40 major offensives that precipitated the enemy's crushing defeat.
The war claimed more than 25 million lives and every new year the number of living witnesses of the past grows smaller and smaller. When the last of them passes away, there will remain thousands of war memorials. An eternal reminder of the hardships endured by the Soviet people and of battles fought during the war, a tribute to soldiers and guerrillas, to mothers whose sons were killed on the battlefield, they were erected in cities and villages throughout Russia.
- is inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall. Here the remains of an Unknown Soldier, transferred from a common grave 41 km down the Moscow-Leningrad highway, were put to rest. A dozen of marble urns contain sacred earth from the hero-cities and from the fortress of Brest.
The memorial was unveiled on May 8, 1967. The authors are sculptor N. Tomsky and architects D. Burdin, V. Klimov, Y. Rabayev and M. Shvekhman.
Almost every day one can see wedding couples coming to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to pay homage to the hero sleeping the eternal sleep outside the Kremlin built by his ancestors and saved by him in 1941.
The Great Patriotic War broke out on June 22, 1941.
The ancient fortress of Brest. Here fierce battles flared on for about a month before the fortress fell to the superior enemy. Within hours after Nazi troops crossed the Soviet border, the fortress's 3.5-thousand-strong defenders were surrounded by Germans. Despite lack of food, water, medicines and ammunition, they managed to hold back a whole division supported by artillery, tanks and combat aviation. They rebuffed the enemy attacks and launched successful counterattacks.
When at the cost of enormous casualties the Germans occupied a greater part of the fortress, the remainder of the garrison continued to offer fierce resistance, defending every inch, every underground passage. They fought to the last bullet, to their last breath. "I am dying, but not surrendering. Farewell, Motherland! 20.07.1941" was scribbled on a wall in one of the fortress's casemates.
In 1970 the fortress was transformed into a war magnificent memorial. Thirst - a sculptural composition depicting one of the episodes of the fortress's defense. The authors are sculptors A. Kibalnikov, A. Bembel, and architects V. Korol, V. Zankovich, G. Sysoyev, O. Stakhovich, V. Volchek and Y. Kazakov.
In the autumn of 1941 the Nazis made desperate attempts to capture Moscow. The battle that lasted more than 6 months (30.09.1941 - 20.04.1942) was one of the greatest ever triumphs scored by the Soviet army. The enemy's crushing defeat near Moscow dispelled the myth about their invincibility and marked a turning point in the history of World War II.
Dominating the entry to Zelenograd 41 km away from Moscow is a war memorial to Moscow defenders. The monumental bronze wreath bears an inscription: "Motherland will never forget her sons". The authors are architects I. Pokrovsky and Y. Sverdlovsky, and sculptors A. Shteiman and E. Shteiman-Derevyanko.
The severe autumn of 1941. 28 soldiers from the 316th rifle difision commanded by General Panfilov dug in on a hill between the village of Nelidovo and the Dubosekovo railway junction. Armed with nothing but rifles, sub-machine guns, grenades and incendiary bottles, they were assaulted by 20 enemy tanks and infantry. 14 tanks were destroyed in the ensuing combat. The rest made a hasty retreat. After a short respite another 30 tanks were moved into battle. 4 hours later the enemy retreated, having lost 18 tanks and dozens of fighters. Political instructor Vasily Klochkov-Diev tied a rope of grenades round his waist and saying "Russia is large, but there is no place to retreat. Moscow is behind us." threw himself under one of the tanks. Other soldiers followed suit. When the battle was over, there were only 5 survivors.
30 years later their feat was immortalized in war a memorial: 6 soldiers of different nationalities stand amid a vast field. In front of them is a band of concrete slabs symbolizing a cordon the enemy was unable to cross. The authors are sculptors N. Lyubimov, A. Postol, and V. Fedorov, architects V. Datyuk, Y. Krivuschenko and I. Stepanov, and engineer S. Khajibaronov.
In October-December 1941 tens of thousands of Muscovites were involved in the construction of a multi-echelon fortification facilities around Moscow. The roads and bridges were mined. More than 1.5 thousand log piles obstructed passage through surrounding forests. Other facilities included 800 km of anti-tank hedgehogs, some 600 km of barbed wire entanglements and over 7,5 thousand firing positions. Moscow was scarred by 22 km of anti-tank trenches. 10 km of barricades and some 24 thousand metal "hedgehogs" blocked the streets. More than 800 machine-gun posts were put up.
Anti-tank Hedgehogs - a memorial to Moscow defenders. Erected in 1966 on the 23-d km down the Leningrad highway. Teh authors are architects A. Mikhe, A. Agafonov, I. Yermishin, and engineer K. Mikhailov.
For about three years (10.07.1941 - 9.08.1944) Leningrad was assaulted by 750-thousand-strong Nazi divisions from the Northern army. The Leningrad "pocket", which forced the Nazi command to keep a considerable ammount of troops in north-western Russia, allowed the Soviet Army to launch a number of successful counter-offensives on other fronts.
Numerous memorial signs, monuments and obelisks can be seen throughout Leningrad - a vivid reminder of those horrible years.
A memorial to Leningrad's defenders on Victory Square. Erected on May 9, 1975. The authors are sculptor M. Anikushin, and architects S. Speransky and V. Kamensky.
After several failed attempts to take the city by storm, the Nazi command resorted to heavy air raids and a siege, hoping that incessant bombings and famine would force it to surrender.
The 900-day siege (8.09.1941 - 27.01. 1944) is a glorious page in Leningrad's history, an example of unprecedented courage and heroism. With no electricity, no heating or running water, no fuel, no food, pounded by aviation bombs and artillery shells, the city struggled on.
"The Road of Life" was built to deliver food and ammunition to Leningrad and its defenders. All along this legendary route stand 45 memorial distance posts (on the road from Leningrad to Lake Ladoga and 36 km along the railroad from the Finland Railway Station).
On the shores of Lake Ladoga stands a monument, called "Breached Circle" and marking the place where started the Road of Life during the blockade of Leningrad. The monument was unveiled in October 1966. The authors are architect V. Filippov, sculptors K. Simun, V.Dugonets, engineer I. Rybin and artist V. Yakovlev.
The Battle of Stalingrad, the fiercest of all known battles, went on for 200 days and nights, from July 17, 1942 through February 2, 1943. In its scale, intensity and consequences it surpassed every other battle in human history. It was the first time in history that such a major group of troops was encircled and completely destroyed. Nazi troops lost a total of 1.5 million soldiers and officers, up to 3,500 tanks and offensive guns, more than 3,000 aircraft, 12,000 guns and mortars and other weapons.
The defeat of the Nazi troops on the banks of the Volga River signaled a radical change in the course of the Great Patriotic War and World War II as a whole. The Soviet Army began to drive the enemy from Soviet territory. It seized the strategic initiative and never lost it until the final defeat of Nazi Germany.
The victory in the Battle of Stalingrad boosted the international prestige of the Soviet Union, added fresh impetus to resistance movements in the occupied countries of Europe and
inspired respect and admiration for the Soviet people among millions of people abroad.
Mamaev Kurgan is the dominant hill of the city. During the battle it was the site of heavy fighting. The defenders of Stalingrad dubbed it Russia's main height. They took oaths here: "Not a single step back!", "There is no land for us behind the Volga", "To fight to the bitter end!". For nearly 140 days and nights the enemy stubbornly fought to take over the height. The top of the hill changed hands many times, but was not surrendered. It became black and the soil was mixed with iron fragments and blood.
After the war the Mamaev Kurgan hill was restored to life. All the mines and unexploded shells and bombs were removed, parks and boulevards laid out, and a grandiose sculptural ensemble was erected to immortalize the feat of the participants of the Battle of Stalingrad.
To the north-west of the city lies a field that was the site of fierce fighting during the battle. In August 1942 city residents built here a minor defensive line. On August 23 a small unit took up a defensive position on the field with the task of stopping the enemy at any cost. Through September 10, 1942, the unit heroically fought with an overwhelming enemy force.
After the Battle of Stalingrad, sapper teams began clearing of mines the numerous sites of the battle, which were once arable lands. They cleared tens of thousands of hectares of such lands. But the field in the north-west, called "The Soldiers'" by local residents continued to contain deadly weapons. Only by the autumn of 1975, 400 hectares of the field were fully cleared of all explosive objects. One of the sections of the field, 120 hectares large, proved to be the most difficult. Mines were found here on every meter. Sappers neutralized a total of over 6,500 bombs, shells and mines.
To commemorate the defenders of "The Soldiers' Field", a memorial complex was erected near the Volgograd-Moscow highway. The remains of the soldiers killed in the fighting, which were found during the clearing operations, were buried in a communal grace. The shell hole next to the grave was filled with fragments of mines, shells, and grenades picked on the field.
The authors of the complex are sculptors L. Levin and A. Krivolapov.

The battle for the Caucasus (July 25, 1942 - October 9, 1943) ended in the crushing defeat of a major enemy grouping and disrupted the enemy's plans to wipe out Soviet troops in the Caucasus, capture the rich grain regions and oil deposits and penetrate the Middle East.
One of the major battles took place at the ancient Elkhotovo Gates , near the village of Elkhotovo, on the right bank of the Terek River. On September 27, 1942, Nazi troops took over the village. On the same day defenders of the Elkhotovo Gates beat off six enemy attacks. Raids of Nazi aircraft and tank attacks continued day and night. The Soviet units safely blocked the direct road to Grozny and Baku. The Nazis had lost several thousand soldiers and hundreds of tanks before they realized they could not break through the defense. In 1975 a monument was unveiled at the Elkhotovo Gates in honor of their defenders. The authors of the monument are architect Z. Kazbekov and sculptor V. Totiev.

During the Battle of Kursk fierce fighting on the ground and in the air persisted for 50 days, from July 7 through August 23, 1943. Nazi troops were rushing to Kursk through the settlements of Oboyan and Prokhorovka. On July 12, 1943, near Prokhorovka more that 1,200 tanks and self-propelled guns on both sides engaged in a tank battle, the greatest in history. Soviet tankers destroyed nearly 400 enemy tanks and won the battle. In the course of the Battle of Kursk, Soviet troops liberated the cities of Oryol and Belgorod. On the day of liberation Moscow held a display of fireworks, the first such event during the war. The battle put an end to the last attempt of the Nazi command to retrieve the strategic initiative and take revenge for Stalingrad and started the expulsion of Nazi invaders from the territory of the Soviet Union on a mass scale. The Nazi army faced a catastrophe.
Our people hold in high esteem the memory of their heroic soldiers. All along the line of fighting in 1943, between Oryol and Belgorod, stand monuments and obelisks to military glory. In 1954, on the 624th kilometer of the Moscow-Simferopol highway, not far from the settlement of Prokhorovka in Belgorod Region, the famed Soviet T-34 tank was established on a postament to commemorate the heroic tankers who had participated in the Battle of Kursk. 1973 saw the opening of a memorial complex. The authors are architect A. Bozhko, artists V. Kozak, V. Leous and A. Grebenyuk.
During the battle for the Dnieper, in August-December 1943, the main units of the Nazi South army groups and part of the Center army groups suffered a crushing defeat. Soviet troops took over the strategic positions on the Dnieper and launched an offensive in Belorussia and in the west and south-west directions and began liberating the right-bank part of Ukraine. The so-called "Eastern defensive barrier", the enemy's last effort to torpedo the Soviet Army's offensive strategy, was crushed.
On November 26-29, 1943, Soviet troops forced a crossing over the Dnieper . On October 14, 1968, a monument - an eight-meter figure of a warrior on a pedestal imitating a log raft - was erected on the site where the crossing began The authors of the monument are sculptor B. Rappoport and architect Yu. Yegorov.

Soviet troops liberated, fully or partly, the territories of ten European and two Asian countries with a population of 183 million. More than a million of Soviet soldiers remained for ever in the soil of liberated countries.
On July 17, 1944, Soviet troops forced a crossing over the West Bug River and entered the territory of Poland. They fought jointly with units of the Polish Army. Combat operations continued for nearly nine months. On January 17, 1945, Soviet and Polish troops liberated the capital Warsaw.
Over 600,000 Soviet soldiers died in the fighting for the liberation of Polish territory. In a sign of deep appreciation many Polish cities erected monuments and obelisks commemorating the Soviet Army. In Warsaw, Soviet and Polish sculptors erected the monument "To Brothers-in-Arms".

In the early hours of March 26, 1944, Soviet troops forced a crossing of the Prut River and began the liberation of Rumania. In August 1944 Rumania stopped fighting on the side of the Nazi bloc and turned against it.
In a sign of gratitude to the Soviet liberator army, the Rumanian people erected a monument to Soviet soldiers on Victory Square in Bucharest. The monument was unveiled in 1945. The author is the Rumanian sculptor C. Baraski.

On September 8, 1944, the troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front crossed the Rumanian-Bulgarian border. The Black Sea and Danube fleets participated in the liberation of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Army offered no resistance. On September 15 Bulgaria declared war on Nazi Germany and joined in the anti-Nazi struggle.
To honor their Soviet liberators the Bulgarian people erected monuments in many cities and settlements. A granite figure of a Soviet soldier, named Alyosha by city residents, stands on the top of a hill in Plovdiv.
The monument was unveiled in 1954. The authors are sculptors V. Radoslavov, A. Zankov, G. Kotsev, Yi. Topalov, architects B. Markov, I. Tsvetanov and N. Marangazov.

The Soviet troops reached the border of Yugoslavia in September, 1944. On October 20, 1944, they took, after a spell of heavy fighting, control of the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade. The Soviet casualties in the Belgrade operation are put at more than 35,000. Numerous monuments pay tribute to the Soviet soldiers who fell in Yugoslavia.
A white marble monument has been erected at the memorial cemetery of Belgrade where Soviet and Yugoslav fighters lie buried in common and separate graves.

Soviet troops crossed, under an agreement between the Soviet, US, British and Norwegian governments, the border into Norway on October 18, 1944. Their mission completed, they left Norway in September, 1945.
There are monuments to the fallen men of the liberating army in many cities of Norway. An inscription on the monument in the Norwegian capital Oslo says "Norway thanks you."

Soviet troops reached the border of Hungary in late September, 1944. They took control of the first city on Hungarian soil - Mako - on September 26, 1944. It was not until April 4, 1944, however, that they took control of all Hungary. As many as 140,000 Soviets were killed on Hungarian soil.
Many cities have monuments to the Soviet army men. An inscription on the monument in Budapest says "The grateful Hungarian people - to the Soviet liberators." The monument was erected in 1947.

Soviet troops entered the Austrian capital of Vienna on April 13. The Viennese welcomed them in. The tempestuous advance of the Soviet troops saved one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. Thanks to the Soviets, the Imperial Bridge still hangs over the Danube River, and many treasures of architecture, including the St Stephan Cathedral, can still be seen in Vienna.
But many thousands of Soviet troops were killed in combat engagements on Austrian territory. A monument to the liberators of Austria stands at Schwarzbergplatz downtown Vienna. A bronze soldier holds an automatic rifle and a banner. The marble foundation features what the supreme commander of the Soviet armed forces had to say about the capture of Vienna and lists the servicemen who gave their lives for the liberation of the capital of the Austrian republic. The monument was unveiled on May 8, 1949. It was made by sculptor Intizaryan and architect Yakovlev.

The Soviets first engaged the Nazi German troops in Czechoslovakia on September 8, 1944. On October 6 the Soviet Union's 38th Army and the Czechioslovak Corps seized control of the Dukla mountain pass. Fighting went on from September, 1944, to May, 1945, between Soviet units, the 1st Czechoslovak Corps and Slovak, Czech and Soviet guerrilla forces, on the one hand, and Nazi German troops, on the other. It culminated in a Czech uprising against the Nazi invaders. Soviet tanks stormed the barricaded capital of Czechia, Prague. The Czechs and Slovaks have, since then, been celebrating May 9 as a national holiday. As many as 144,000 Soviet troops gave their lives for the liberation of the Czechs and Slovaks.
The grateful memory of the Czecha and Slovaks retains scenes of those days. Monuments to Soviet infantrymen and airmen, members of tank crews and sailors line the roads all over Czechia and Slovakia.
The Slovak mother hugs the Soviet soldier who saved her fron slavery, at the Dukla pass. The monument was unveiled in 1960. It was made by sculptor Trizulyak, architect Svetlik and Slovak artists Snopek, Kosik, Kilikh, Bartfai, and Pribish.

The Soviet troops were ordered, in mid-April, to seize Berlin. What is known as their Berlin operation was launched on April 16. On April 25 the Soviets surrounded and dismembered the Berlin Army Group of the Nazis. They fell on Berlin on April 26. Fierce fighting went on in every street and in every house till May 2. Nazi Germany surrendered on May 9. The Soviet Union won what it calls its Great Patriotic War.
There are several monuments to the heroic Soviet troops in Germany. A large memorial complex can be seen in the Treptov Park of Berlin. There is a 13-meter bronze statue; the Soviet soldier holds a small girl, and, in his right hand, the sword with which he has broken the Nazi swastika.
The second figure of the Treptov Park ensemble embodies the Motherland who pulled through all the hardships of the war period.
The memorial complex was unveiled on May 8, 1949. Yevgeny Vuchetich who sculpted the figures, was teamed up with architect Belopolsky and artist Garpenko.

As soon as it celebrated its victory over Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union moved to meet its commitments under the Crimean (February, 1945) agreements of the anti-Hitler coalition. True to its word, it joined the allies in the war against Japan. Japan had, by that time, amassed its 1,000,000 strong Kwangtung Army in northeast China, which lived under a pro-Tokyo puppet administration, and in its colony, Korea.
Soviet troops launched an offensive on Japan on August 9, 1945. The war against Japan was a direct continuation and an integral part of the Great Patriotic War.
After 8 days and nights of incessant fighting the Soviets encircled the Kwangtung Army and started advancing in the direction of the critically important centers of Manchuria. The Kwangtung Army commander ordered his men to surrender on August 18.
The Chinese honor the memory of the Soviet army men who liberated the northeast of their country from the Japanese. There are monuments to the Soviet troops in many cities and villages of northeastern China.
A 30-meter-tall monument can be seen in Kharbin. It is made of light gray granite and black terrazo (architect Bakich.)

Korea had been languishing under the yoke of the Japanese militarists for 40 years, or until the Soviet Army held out a helping hand. Soviet troops made it for the Korean border on August 11, 1945. Soviet paratroopers took control of Pyongyang on August 24. The Japanese were chased out of North Korea in late August. There are monuments to the liberators all over North Korea.
The most impressive monument stands in Pyongyang. It features the following words: "The great Soviet people defeated the Japanese militarists and set the Koreans free. This monument was erected, on August 15, 1945, to show how grateful all the Koreans feel."
The Piskaryovo memorial cemetery of St Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad, is where more than 470,000 civilian victims of frost and famine, as well as Soviet troops, were buried in common graves in 1942 and 1943.

A monument in the village of Zhodino which lies by the Moscow-Minsk highway honors Anastasiya Fominichna Kupriyanova who went down this highway to see five sons off to the front and waited there in vain to welcome them back home. The youngest of her sons - Pyotr - covered with his body the embrasure of an enemy fire emplacement. Soviet troops who went to free Europe from the Nazi invasion took that same highway in 1944.
The monument was sculpted by Zaspitsky, Misko and Ryzhenkov, with help from architect Trofumchuk.
The Nazi occupants killed more than 100,000 men and women in the Salaspils concentration camp, 17 kilometers away from Riga.
A 40-hectare memorial complex opened there in 1967. Once he passes its symbolic wall of life and death, the visitor finds himself on a square with soil from the 23 Latvian concentration camps of the World War II years.
Commemorative plaques show where the barracks stood. There is a track of suffering where the prisoners were made to jog till they fell down for exhaustion.
Sculptors Bukovsky, Zarin and Skarajnis, and architects Asaris, Zakamenny, Ostenberg and Strautmanis made that memorial complex.
Nazi troops surrounded the Belarussian village of Khatyn on March 22, 1943. They drove all the villagers into a barn, brought lots of car gas drenched straw and set the building on fire. The desperate villagers pushed the door out. The Nazi riflemen opened fire. As many as 149 men and women were killed, 75 of them children. Two children and the village blacksmith were wounded but managed to escape.
Hundreds of villages were razed to the ground, with not a single villager being able to escape, in Belarus, in 1941-1944. A memorial complex was erected to honor the memory of the fallen at Khatyn, 58 northeast of Minsk. The complex centers around the bronze figure of an elderly man who carries the body of a child. The inscription reads as follows: "Good people, remember: we loved life, and our Motherland, and you. We were burnt alive. This is what we want everyone to do: turn your grief and sorrow into the courage and strength that will enable you to insure peace and quiet on Earth. May never again life die in whirlpools of fire!"
The memorial complex was designed by architects Gradov, Zankovich and Levin. The figures were made by sculptor Selikhanov.
          The edition used in preparing the exhibit: The People's Feat. Monuments of the Great Patriotic War. Compiled and edited by V.A.Golikov. The publishing house of political literature. Moscow. 1984.

Copyright 2000 The Voice of Russia