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Natalia Darsavelidze analizuje kompleks muzealny Poklonnaya Gora w Moskwie i stwierdza m.in. że Holokaust jest tylko tematem pobocznym, ujętym pod hasłem „tragedie ludzi”. Artykuł udostępniamy w języku angielskim.
Artykuł pochodzi z partnerskiego portalu „Uroki istorii”.

Memorial ensemble dedicated to the war of 1941–1945 was constructed in 1995 by the architect group under the guidance of the president of Russian Fine Arts Academy Zurab Tsereteli, but its designing was started earlier, in 1958. Discussion of construction plans aroused now more, now less interest in different years, but was most active at the end of the 50-s, in the 70-s and during the first half of the 90s. Recommencement and realization of this ambitious project in mid-90s became one of the signs of the retargeting of the country to an imperial direction.

The ensemble comprises a museum, a park, where a Russian Orthodox church, a mosque and a synagogue were constructed, alleys, victors’ squares and fountains in front of the museum. A similarly named metro station specially constructed to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory in war is ideologically and artistically connected with the memorial. It’s here that the greater part of visitors start their way to the memorial, and the designers of the modern station used the principles of Stalinist architecture in its organization, included mosaics with the images of the soldier from the Berlin’s Treptower Park, reminded of the connection between the Poklonnaya gora and the memory of the 1812 Patriotic War – the symbolism in the design of the station is extremely loaded, concentrated, it prepares for a visit to the memorial itself.

It is important that the memorial is devoted to the “Victory in the Great Patriotic War” namely (and not, for instance, to the studying of the phenomenon of the WW II) – this is reflected in the design and contents of the memorial space. The museum in general reiterates and confirms the Soviet myth about the war – for instance, a well-known in the previous epoch scenario is reproduced in the description of the military actions – thus museum space includes dioramas destined to illustrate the most important episodes of the war with the defense of Moscow, blockade of Leningrad, the Stalingrad battle, the Kursk Salient, the forcing of Dnieper, seizure of Berlin recognized as such.

Despite the fact that the exhibition includes factographic material – arms, clothes, personal belongings of the war participants are exhibited, the life of the rear area is presented, etc. – a lot of attention is paid not only to the documentary evidence of the war years, but also to numerous forms of the representation of these events – philately, numismatics, fine arts …

The use of many Soviet clichés is typical for the language of the description of the exhibition space: the building of the museum includes extremely ritualized architectural areas – the Hall of Fame, the Mourning Hall, galleries with banners, ceremonial portraits and sculptures of marshals, heroes, etc.

One of the basic principles of the organization of the museum and the park is enumeration. For instance, there is a Memorial Hall with the gallery of books enumerating those perished in the war (the volumes are organized according to the principle of administrative division – separate volumes enumerate the veterans of the Altai Territory, of Bashkortostan, etc.) special pantheons and Halls of Fame are meant for long lists of heroes and divisions.

Material damage of the Soviet Union, weapons units of the warring parties, amount of humanitarian aid brought under the land-lease treaty, etc. are calculated. 141,8 meters of the famous stele “Nika” by Z.Tsereteli adorning the entrance to the memorial ensemble mark 1418 days of the war (from 22 June 1941 till 9 May 1945).

A number of patterns employed in the memorial on Poklonnaya gora were borrowed from the designers of the Mamaev Kurgan memorial in Volgograd – the concept of the Hall of Fame, of the enumeration of heroes and cities-heroes is reproduced, one can find similarities in the Morning Hall as well with Pieta – the figure of the mother mourning over her killed son...

The war inside the Poklonnaya gora memorial is presented as a separate theme of the past. For instance, the exhibition of the memorial does not describe the post-war period in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Meanwhile it is clear that history should not be seen beyond the connection with the previous and following events, the events of the past are never something isolated or self-contained. Despite the pompousness and the scale of the ensemble, its designers left the topics, very important for the modern world, such as the nature of fascism, hatred, intolerance, the mechanism of ideological work with people, out of account. 

There are no stories about psychological sufferings at the front, stories of individual fates. Memorial reflects the present-day situation with regard to the Great Patriotic War, when its diverse experience (human, political, social) is rarely in demand and is more often used as an ideological resource. The past events are described in the terms of glory, heroism, heroic deeds. The most important lesson learnt by the visitor is the pride for the country which won a victory over fascism.

And the orientation of the museum towards the maintenance of the official myth about the Great Patriotic War automatically excludes the following important topics from the discussion: the nature of “liberation” of Eastern Europe, military actions until 1941 (including Katyn, the Finnish war, deportation of the peoples from Western Ukraine and Belorus), post-war social collisions in Europe and the USSR (status of the disabled, orphans, widows, prisoners of war returning from the Nazi camps).

The ensemble includes a Russian Orthodox church, a mosque and a synagogue – this is meant to stress that the war of 1941-1945 is of universal nature – this is an episode affecting very different people including representatives of different religions.

The synagogue on Poklonnaya gora, as well as a small exhibition on Holocaust and the monument with a quite veiled title “Tragedies of the peoples” by Z.Tsereteli (the monument was originally located in front of the central entrance to the museum, but was soon moved to the back yard, where it is not possible to have a look at it from various angles though the group of sculptures presupposes it) hints on the presence of the Jewish topic in the history of the war, but it does not go beyond the hints – the Shoah issue remains practically undeveloped and uncomprehended.

Natalia Darsavelidze, translated by Ekaterina Kokorina


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