Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Belarus - Statues and Monuments

This is my fourth blog post about my Belarus trip - pictures and stories about some of the statues and monuments I saw (in the order I saw them). The first post was about the travel. The second post was about the activities.  The third post was about the money.  There will be more blog posts.

There is so much history in this part of the world and it is fascinating to learn about it.

Mikhail Kalinin was an early Soviet revolutionary

Yakub Kolas (1882-1956) was a "People’s Poet" of Belarus.  He is considered the founder of modern Belarusian literature.  There are scenes from two of his books on the left and right of his statue.

Yakub Kolas

The old man Talash and his grandson Panas

Simon and his girl friend Hanka
Belarus suffered heavily from the Nazi occupation during World War II.  More than two million people, 25% of its population, died during the war.  Hundreds of villages were decimated. Minsk was a major center of the Soviet partisan resistance movement against the occupation. For this role, Minsk was awarded the title Hero City in 1974. This is the highest honorary title of the USSR awarded to just twelve cities for their role during World War II.

This memorial was dedicated July 3, 1954, the tenth anniversary of Belarusian freedom, consists of the column (the granite for this came from Ukraine) with beautiful heroic scenes of cast iron, an eternal flame, and granite blocks for each Soviet hero city. There is a passage below the memorial with an illuminated wreath of colour glass and plaques with the names of 566 soldiers.

The forty meters high obelisk is crowned with the Order of Lenin made of bronze and multicoloured mosaics. The obelisk is decorated at the base with 4 bronze high relief’s. These are the "May 9, 1945" depicting the triumph of victory, "The Soviet Army in World War II", "Belarusian partisans" depicting some episodes from the railroad war and a combat battle, and the "Glory to the perished heroes" depicting the people’s grief over a hero’s grave.

On July 3, 1961, the 17th anniversary of Belarusian liberation, an eternal flame was lit before the monument.

I did not realize that all four sides of the base of the monument were different reliefs, so missed getting pictures of the other three.

Monument to Victory with the eternal flame

Obelisk at the top of the Monument to Victory

The state emblem of Belarus is above the
relief named "May 9, 1945"
At the base is bronze sword covered with laurel wreath as a symbol of victory

Devoted to the 940th anniversary of the founding of Minsk, the "Architect" is dressed in ancient clothes and stays behind the city's towers that symbolize Minsk of different epochs - castle gates of the 12th century, Bernard Catholic church of the 17th century, and the National Bolshoi Theater building.

The "Architect"

Statues of Lenin are disappearing around the former Soviet Union, but there is still one in Minsk.  It is rather ominous!  There are different reliefs under his statue, though I do not know what each of them are depicting.  Some say that this statue is both a metaphor and an architectural proof that Belarus’s state institutions, including the arts, remain frozen in the Soviet past.

Lenin statue in front of the House of Government

Closer
Left and front relief
 
Front and right relief

Francis Skaryna (1490-1551), the first Belarusian and eastern Slavonic book printer, was a professor from the oldest Belarusian city.  He printed his Russian Bible in Prague in 1517, which was the first printed book of the Russian (Belarus, Ukraine and Russia) world of that era. A great man of his times, he served as a secretary for a bishop of Vilna (now Vilnius), met Martin Luther in Germany, and visited Moscow with a cultural mission. In 1506 he was awarded a medical doctorate degree.

The statue of Francis Skaryna stands near the National Library
The last statue is one that we found near the palace we visited quite a distance from Minsk.

World War II monument with an eternal flame, wreaths,
and engraved list of names of those who died

Some of the things I could not remember, but gathered information from two different websites - http://www.comtourist.com/minsk-monuments and http://tobelarus.com/tourism-in-belarus/belarus-sightseeing/64-sculptures.html.

How about you?  What do you think about all this history?  Does it make you grateful for the few attacks we have had on American soil?

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