Saturday, February 23, 2013



Every city in the World has its own monuments that people can easily recognize and associate with. Take our capital city of Kuala Lumpur,we have the Petronas Twin Towers. But here in Volgograd, we have a different kind of monument altogether. Maybe some of you out there are familiar with this particular statue. Well, the statue that I’m talking about is the Motherland statue.

People often make the mistake of calling the statue the Mamayev Kurgan when in fact, the statue is actually called the Motherland Statue (Родина-мать). It is the hill on which the statue is built upon which is named Mamayev Kurgan. It literally means Mamai’s Hill. It was originally a Tartar burial ground prior to the Battle of Stalingrad in World War 2.

Not long after the Battle of Stalingrad the hill was turned into a memorial complex to commemorate the Soviet’s victory over the Nazis. It is said that after the battle, the earth on the hill remained black in winter because snow would melt on the hot fires and when spring came, the ground would stay black because no grass could grow on the scorched soil. It serves as a dreadful reminder of the bloody battle that went on for a total of 200 days and nights.

Currently, on the hill stands the gigantic 52 meter tall statue of the Motherland which is a statue of a woman carrying a sword in her hand, her face turned toward the direction of Germany, her mouth frozen in a battle roar. Also, there is the Hall of Heroes that houses the Eternal Flame and along the hill one can see hundreds of graves of the fallen Soviet soldiers.

The most interesting part about the Mamayev Kurgan complex is the fact that every single statue and monument built on the hill symbolizes something. Beginning our journey from the foot of the hill, we come upon the large granite stairs with 200 steps, each step representing a day in the Battle of Stalingrad. This is known as the Alley of the Pyramidal Poplars. It is 223 meters long and 10 meters wide. On the stairs, the words "For our Soviet motherland! USSR!"( За нашу советскую родину СССР) can be seen.

At the end of the alley, we will reach a large statue of a man holding a grenade and a Thompson rifle in his hand. The torso of the statue is naked that symbolizes that every Soviet soldier regardless of his rank or facial features resembles Marshal Chuikovs. And directly behind the statue, one can clearly see the Motherland statue. This is another symbol that shows that the soldier is protecting his motherland.

As we continue our journey further, we will reach the ruined walls upon which oaths, phrases of the Soviet soldiers are engraved. One of the most famous writings here is Каждый дом-это крепость (Every house is a fortress). Also, audio recordings of gunfire and war songs are played as we walk along the walls. It is truly exhilarating to walk through these walls because it is as if we are transported back in time to moment the Battle of Stalingrad still rages.

 Our next destination is the Square of Heroes. Here, we can see 6 sculptures erected in honour of nurses, sailors and soldiers who contributed in the war efforts. One of the statues is that of General Glazkov who refused to leave the front line even though he was shot and badly injured. It was said that 160 bullets were removed from his body after he died.

 Our next stop is the Hall of Heroes. It is a conical building where an eternal fire is lit and on the walls we are able to see the thousands of names written on the wall. Each name is a soldier that fought and died during the Battle.

Upon exiting the hall,we would have finally reach the sculpture of the Motherland. From this vintage point,the whole city of Volgograd can be seen clearly.