Strings words together
Across the sands of time
Leaves readers in awe and wonder
At carefully selected lines
Passionately carved sentences
Probing into essences
The most meaningful recesses
But nothing written ever
To stop the bloody wars
Motherland stands in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. It is part of National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War and isn’t without controversy due to the Soviet hammer and sickle on the shield. Much like Nazi swastikas in Germany, in 2015 Ukraine outlawed Soviet and Communist symbols. However, World War II monuments were excluded, and so Motherland continued to wield aloft her oppressor-era shield, even after a decision in 2018 that it should comply with the law and the symbols replaced with a Ukrainian trident. At the time of recent events, this had still not happened. (image Robert Anasch)
Construction began on Motherland in 1978; it was officially opened in 1981, Leonid Brezhnev, a top Soviet official and also Ukrainian, in attendance.
The statue is 203 ft (62 m), and if I understand correctly that doesn’t include the plinth it’s on, so possibly 335 ft (102 m) then. Made from stainless steel, it weighs (including base) 560 tons. The sword alone weighs 9 tons and is alleged to have been shortened after the tip was found to be higher than the cross of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
Above image Max Vakhtbovych.
In the below image taken by Andriy155, Motherland can be seen behind Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
Pechersk Lavra means Monastery of Caves; and while there are some, other Holy buildings have been added to the area over time. To the left and slightly below are the golden ‘onion’ domes of the Dormition Cathedral.
It was built in the 11th century, only for parts to be destroyed in WWII, and then restored again after (completed 1995). Controversy surrounds who did the destroying. The Soviets—and no doubt the Russians would continue the tradition—claimed the damage was done by German troops when advancing. Whereas the Germans countered it was the Soviets when retreating; a point with merit, it being known they employed a scorched earth policy that included the destruction of all Kyiv bridges.
The large building to the right is the Great Lavra Belltower, constructed between 1731 and 1745. In front and below it is a smaller, thinner tower not part of Pechersk Lavra. It is the memorial at the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide.
Translated, Holodomor means ‘to kill by starvation’. The incident is also known as the Terror Famine. It took place 1932 to 1933, with estimates putting the death toll at in the region of five million. There is some debate about whether it was actually a genocide; instead of being instigated by Stalin as a means to eliminate a Ukrainian independence movement, it’s suggested that it was a consequence of Soviet industrialisation.
Either way, it was still down to the Soviets—the ones whose crest is on Motherland’s shield—and things became so bad, to quote the Holodomor Wikipedia page (link above):
‘Evidence of widespread cannibalism was documented during the Holodomor. Survival was a moral as well as a physical struggle. A woman doctor wrote to a friend in June 1933 that she had not yet become a cannibal, but was “not sure that I shall not be one by the time my letter reaches you.” The good people died first. Those who refused to steal or to prostitute themselves died. Those who gave food to others died. Those who refused to eat corpses died. Those who refused to kill their fellow man died. Parents who resisted cannibalism died before their children did.
The Soviet regime printed posters declaring: “To eat your own children is a barbarian act.” More than 2,500 people were convicted of cannibalism during the Holodomor.’
The Wikipedia page is a shocking read for so many reasons. One being not simply the official Soviet line that a famine hadn’t taken place, regardless of why, but also some prominent names in the West backed up the assertion; one allegedly being none other than the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw.
Given current events, it is impossible to know if any of the above featured buildings and monuments are still standing.
My thanks to those who made the above images available to use; originals and details of the licences they are used under can be found in the link attached to each image owner’s name.
Thoughts with and love to Ukraine x
N. P. Ryan