‘The Battle of Moscow. The First Victory’: An exhibition unveiled at Poklonnaya Gora

‘The Battle of Moscow. The First Victory’: An exhibition unveiled at Poklonnaya Gora
Photo: Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service. Yevgeny Samarin
Visitors will learn how Moscow lived during the war, they will see weapons, household items and letters written by the city residents who fought the enemy and worked on the home front to make victory possible.

Visitors will learn what life was like in Moscow during the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), see the arms, household items and letters written by city residents who fought on the frontline and worked on the home front to bring the victory closer. 

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky unveiled the exhibition The Battle of Moscow. The First Victory at the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War at Poklonnaya Gora.

The opening of the exhibition on 5 December was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the launch of the counteroffensive operation by Soviet troops.

“The battle of 5 December was the first in the chain of subsequent counteroffensive operations and victories by the Allied powers and the Soviet Union over the global evil,” Medinsky said. “This exhibition is a special one. It tells a lot of truth about the Battle of Moscow.”

The organisers’ idea was to demonstrate the battle’s greatness and tragedy through the heroic deeds of the people who fought for the victory on the frontline and on the home front.

Mayor Sobyanin said: “We want this exhibition, which is dedicated to the counteroffensive on the approaches to Moscow, to show not only the victors’ maps marked by military commanders but also archival documents and the letters and personal belongings of rank-and-file soldiers who fought for every last ditch near Moscow. The exhibition gives an insight into what was happening here when the city and the country were going through this tremendously difficult period. Dozens of museums have lent us their unique documents.”

The Mayor said that the events which took place 75 years ago had decided the fate of humankind.

“Despite all sorts of discussions, debates and efforts to clarify various facts, the ultimate truth is that the Russian people had concentrated all of their human, material, economic and spiritual resources and stopped the most powerful military machine in history,” Sobyanin said, adding that hundreds of thousands of Muscovites fought on the frontline, built defence lines and continued to work at plants and factories.

The Mayor invited Muscovites and visitors of the city to see the exhibition and thanked veterans for the victory in the war. 

According to Moscow Government Minister and Head of the Department of Culture Alexander Kibovsky, the exhibition will run until 15 May 2017. “The admission is free for all,” he said. “We want to invite everyone to come. I believe that the exhibition will not leave anyone indifferent.”

The organisers aim to draw attention to the monumental courage of the defenders of the city, where “there is not a single individual fate – all fates are merged into one”, as well as the value of the life of each person who perished in the war.

Over 1,500 exhibits and documents are on display at the exhibition site of about 3,000 square metres, including components of military hardware, samples of weapons, ammunition, outfit and uniform, as well as daily life items. 

A special effort has been made to feature the personal items of Moscow defenders, including Georgy Zhukov, Semyon Budyonny, Andrei Yeryomenko, Nikolai Sbytov, Viktor Polosukhin, Fyodor Tokarev, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya and Natalya Kovshova.

The exhibition also features the letters and documents of ordinary city residents, official resolutions by the USSR State Committee for Defence, orders by the Supreme High Command Headquarters and decisions by Mossovet (the Moscow City Council).

The city’s cultural life at that time is also illustrated by theatrical props, billboards and drawings.

Kinetic installations and multimedia elements have been employed to give visitors a better perception of the exhibits.

Over 30 federal and regional museums, archives, educational institutions and private collectors are involved in the project, including:

— the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945;

— the Central Interior Ministry Museum;

— the Central Border Troops Museum;

— the Museum of the History of the Airborne Troops;

— The History of the T-34 Tank, a museum and memorial complex;

— the State Museum of the Defence of Moscow;

— the Museum of Moscow, a museum association;

— the Obraztsov State Academic Central Puppet Theatre;

— the Museum of the History of Medicine at Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University;

— New Jerusalem, a museum and exhibition complex;

— the Museum of the History of Ruza Police;

— the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History;

— the Central State Archive of the City of Moscow;

— the Russian State Military Archive;

— the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defence.

The exhibition will run until 15 May 2017.