Top Most Famous World War II Memorial Sites in Russia
In 1945 the USSR was exhausted by the war. Moscow was considerably destroyed by hostile air strikes, Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) survived the Siege and lost about 80% of its population, two-thirds of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) were bombed out. Today, a lot of tourists from all over the world come to Russia to visit memorials intended to eternalize the sites of ruthless battles. In the grounds of contemporary Russia, one can hardly find a place which was not, to a greater or lesser extent, affected by the Second World War: in some of them there were battles, others served as shelters for evacuees. The cities which suffered most during World War II were awarded the title Hero Cities. Among them there are Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Volgograd, Tula, Smolensk, Murmansk, Kerch, Novorossiysk and Sevastopol.
Volgograd: The Motherland Calls Statue and Memorial Complex on Mamayev Kurgan
Volgograd (913 km from Moscow), in the Soviet period known as Stalingrad, is considered a site of the world's most ruthless battle in which over 1,5 million people fell. The memorial on Mamayev Kurgan, which is the most famous site of the city, was constructed to eternalize the Battle of 1942 when the Soviet Red Army had defeated the German forces on the Eastern Front. Most of the monuments dedicated to the battles of WWII are situated in three nearby areas of the city: on Heroes Alley leading from the embankment to Square of Fallen Fighters, around Museum-panorama The Battle of Stalingrad and near Mamayev Kurgan. The most convenient way to visit all these sites is to go by metrotram serving both as a ground and underground transport. Even if you seem to know all about the Battle of Stalingrad, do not miss Mamayev Kurgan to realize the scope of the tragedy and losses which the Soviet Union suffered. It takes 200 steps to get from Memory of Generations monument to the basement of The Motherland Calls statue. Each step equal to a day of the Battle is believed to remind people of its ruthlessness. After its construction in 1967, the statue of The Motherland Calls was listed in the Guinness World Records as the world's tallest statue. The monument is as tall as 85 meters, not including its pedestal. By comparison, The Statue of Liberty is 46 m tall, The Statue of Christ the Redeemer stands 38 m tall.
Saint Petersburg: Victory Square and Museum of the Defense and Siege of Leningrad
During WWII, Leningrad was under a long Siege which lasted from September 8, 1941 till January 27, 1944. 97% of those who died during the Siege, died of starvation and disease. To commemorate people's heroism, there is the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square. Inside the monument, there is a huge underground hall decorated with two impressive mosaics named The Siege and Victory.There one can hear wartime radio signals, see the images of Leningrad under the Siege and a short film accompanied by D. Shostakovich's Symphony No.7. It was finished in 1941 and dedicated to residents of the city as a symbol of antagonism to Nazism. When in the Museum of the Defense and Siege of Leningrad, one can get a full picture of what was going in the city during the Siege. The museum displays an apartment reconstructed in accordance with that period of time, weapons, defenders' personal possessions and meagre rations for the city residents, for example, a 125 gram piece of bread made of whole grain rye flour and cellulose hydrate. In the halls of the museum there sounds an air raid siren.
Kursk: The Kursk Salient Memorial
Along with the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk which took place in July, 1943, contributed much to the defeat of the German army. The Battle was of great geopolitical importance as it weakened dramatically not only the German forces but those of their allies as well. The Battle of Kursk has gone down in the annals of history as the biggest tank battle: there were involved about two million people, six thousand tanks and four thousand planes. In the northern part of Kursk, there is a memorial in commemoration of those who fell in the Battle. The memorial was constructed as an alley which is one kilometer long. It hosts the Triumphal Arch, monument to Marshal Zhukov, St. George's Cathedral, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Eternal Flame and a Doric column with the engraved Decree of the President of the Russian Federation on awarding the city honorary title of "City of Military Glory". The memorial also displays a great variety of war-time weapons: guns, howitzer cannons, tanks T-34, self-propelled guns Zveroboy and rocket launchers known as Katyusha.
Novorossiysk: Malaya Zemlya Memorial
The Red Army's landing operation which took place in February, 1943 is considered the most significant event on the Southern Front. The name of Malaya Zemlya stands for a landing location in the southern part of Novorossiysk (1 466 km from Moscow). A heroic defense of this land lasted 225 days and resulted in the liberation of the city on September 16, 1943. Malaya Zemlya Memorial is on the coast of the Black Sea. The most impressive monument of the complex is a huge composition constructed in the shape of a ship's bow sailing to the land at full speed. The site greets the Tsemess Bay which hosted most of the battles. Not so far from the monument, one can find their remnants: fighting holes, observation and command posts. Inside the monument, there is a museum and an exhibition of war-time weapons.
Sevastopol: Sapun-gora Memorial
Mount Sapun stretching as long as 7 km towards Balaklava Bay is known as a site that in May, 1944 defended Sevastopol from the south. A heroic stand of this land lasted over seven hours. On the land, the enemy was attacked by artillery, tank and foot troops; German aircrafts and ships were also destroyed. One can fully penetrate into the atmosphere of this ruthless Battle when in Sapun-gora Memorial holding the world's biggest diorama which is 8 m long. As an example, it displays the top of Mount Sapun with bomb and bullet craters left in the aftermath of the Battle. There are also copies of war-time weapons, armoured vehicles, shells and shell fragments represented in their natural size. The memorial is worth visiting both for the diorama and a scenic view of the city. Not so far from Sapun-gora, there are St. George's Cathedral constructed in the shape of a bullet and an exhibition of World War II military equipment.