Museum of the Great Patriotic War – Remembering the Courage of the Belarusians
On the 2nd of June 1942 a commission created by the Communist Party of Belarus was instituted. Their responsibility was the collection of timeless memories dedicated to the Great Patriotic War which demonstrate the strength and great courage of the Belarusian people.
The memories of youths eager to stand strong for their country wind their way through the minds of past soldiers, their fears and hopes lying bare to the public. Photographs of loved ones, documents, newspapers and magazines sharing a moment forever preserved within the walls of the Belarusian State Museum. In a unique collection of paintings and drafts a different story unfolds, one of anguish and pain as the horrors of war are unraveled. In late 1942, these rare works known as the ‘Belarus Alive Belarus Fighting’ were exhibited for the first time at the State Historical Museum in Moscow. These works portrayed the hands of professional artists to amateurs to the ordinary soldier fighting the war. Later, 1966 would see the exhibition moved and located within the center of Minsk. Interestingly, the museum’s collection increases by over a thousand specimens per year, adding to the already 137,000 exhibitions on display.
Today set on a picturesque backdrop of rolling hills, located south on the outskirts of Pechersk, a district of Kiev and capital of Ukraine, is the memorial complex in honor of the Great Patriotic War. It was ceremonially opened on the 9th of May 1981 by the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev. Fifteen years later the Memorial complex received the status of ‘National Museum’ by a special decree signed by Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine at the time. Over 21 million visitors have passed through the museums doors, gazing at over 300 thousand exhibits on display. However, the most recognized landmark is the infamous 62-meter tall statue of ‘Mother Motherland’ built by Yevgeny Vuchetich in honor of the World War II Soviet defenders. For some, skepticism lays in the safety of this controversial sculpture, measuring with an overall height of 108 meters and a weight of 530 tons.
Serenity can be felt as you walk through the Memorial hall at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. Here, displayed on beautiful marble plaques, are the carved names of 11,600 soldiers including 200 workers from the home front, honored with the titles of ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and ‘Hero of Socialist Labor’.