Saturday, October 6, 2012


Moscow has nearly destroyed my favorite pair of boots.  The erratic weather changes, cobblestones, and near constant walking have taken my boots from a classic, black leather look to a "I just survived the war" look.
In an effort to salvage what remains of my Via Spiga's, I purchased another pair of black boots today and some waterproofing spray.  These new boots are of rather low quality (synthetic materials), but that is fine with me.  Moscow is not kind to footwear.

Ironically, my boots probably saw their last of daily treks through Moscow on today's excursion to the Great Patriotic War Museum.  In Russia, World War II is known as the Great Patriotic War.

The museum sits at the end of a long, stone walkway in Victory Park.
On our way from the Metro station to the museum, we stopped at a unique Russian church, The Church of St. George.

Unlike most churches in Moscow, the Church of St. George has only one dome and windows that run the entire height of the spire.

We continued our march through the rain to the eternal flame outside of the Great Patriotic War Museum.
хорошая погода
There are two eternal flames in Moscow, one at the Great Patriotic War memorial and one at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexander Gardens.

We saw the Holocaust Memorial before finally seeking respite from the cold and rain inside the museum.

On the lower level was the Hall of Remembrance and Sorrow.  Nearly 27 million Russian soldiers and civilians died during the course of World War II.    The United States lost approximately 420,000 lives.   France lost 567,600 members of its population.  Great Britain suffered 450,900 deaths.
Click image for source.  There are 26.5 million crystals hanging from the ceiling,
one for each Russian life lost during the war.
Grand panoramas depicted some of the most important battles of the war.  For me, the most poignant was the panorama of the siege of Leningrad.  I remember reading about this 900 day siege in my Eastern European Women and War course last year.  The memoirs of the women who survived the siege are explicit narratives of suffering, but they are a true testament to Russian resolve in defending their homeland.
Click image for source.
From the lower level, we climbed to the upper level to see the Hall of Glory and the exhibits with artifacts from the war.
Click image for source.
Overall, the Great Patriotic War Museum was one of the best museums I've been to so far in Moscow.  It was truly an emotional tribute to Russian bravery during the five years of the Great Patriotic War.

One of the most curious aspects of the museum, and Russia's depiction of the Great Patriotic War, was the portrayal of Joseph Stalin.  Everyone knows Stalin as a brutal, unsparing ruler.  The Great Patriotic War Museum did not attempt to vilify or rectify Stalin's actions; it presented him as an effective leader in wartime.  After all, nobody can deny that he lead Russian troops to victory against Hitler's advancing army.  

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