Potemkin Steps – Remembering the Potemkin Rebellion

The Potemkin Steps are a reminder of the legendary tale of a battle that took place between the loyal armed forces of the Czar and the mutiny sailors in 1905. To understand why, we need to look a little closer from one of the perspectives. This would begin with the living conditions on board the ‘Potemkin’.

The men had just sailed back from warring with Japan – they were battle-worn and tired of living in cramped quarters that were not even fit for livestock. Trouble was settling on the horizon with the sailors already aware of the ongoing revolt between the workers and the Tsarist regime. Should they join? Their thoughts would soon be answered when at breakfast the following day the ship’s physician declared the maggot-infested meat to be fine for consumption.

This was a major turning point which resulted in the order, by well fed officers, for the execution of any who protested. But it was because of Vakulinchuk, a mere sailor, that the firing squad was convinced to stand down. Mutiny was rife on board the ship, unfortunately during the clash that took place, Vakulinchuk was be fatally wounded, his end to serve as a symbol on the steps of Odessa for those who would lose their lives in the revolution. The local people came out in full support and to pay their last respects to those who had fought bravely for what was right. But this was not to be the end of the saga.

Without warning the Tsarist Militia arrived to take control. In response the Potemkin would attempt to take out the main headquarters of the Tsarists generals. However, it was on sea that the crucial ending was being set. With two battleships on final approach to destroy the Potemkin, it seemed like not much was left to do but fight back. The surprise: Potemkin instead sent up a signal saying, “Don’t fight – join us.”

On the verge of battle, what was to happen next? The two ships replied favorably, “Brothers!”. The crew was overjoyed at having avoided attack and instead gaining much needed support for their cause.

It was only in 1941 that the steps would be established in memory of the Potemkin rebellion, taking a total of four years to come into full completion. It is from the Potemkin Steps, a fine vantage point, that you will experience the most beautiful views of the bay and its ever-busy Odessa harbor.

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