On display at the two exhibitions dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812, due to open in Moscow on August 31st, are various items, including letters of the Russian Emperor, and also drawings of the crowned heads dating back to their childhood and their poems.
One of these exhibitions is prepared by the Federal Archival Agency of the Russian Federation and the other – by the House of Russia Abroad.
The majority of exhibits are put on view for the first time. Studying the authentic documents, visitors can easily gain an understanding of both the political reasons and consequences of the war against Napoleon. Reports from the battlefields, the plans of the battles, and officers’ service records are very helpful in studying the developments in the Patriotic War of 1812. Visitors can also see Russian and French firearms and orders. The exhibition staged by the House of Russia Abroad is dedicated rather to observing the memory of the Patriotic War of 1812 by the Russian immigrants of the first wave, including the military first of all, than to the war as such.
One of the most exciting exhibits is the file of the St. Petersburg newspaper “Severnaya Pochta” (“Northern Mail”) for 1812 that has survived by some miracle, including the issue where the Russian Emperor declares the beginning of the war against France.
By the way, 50 years ago when the 150 anniversary of the war against Napoleon was celebrated, the Society of the Lovers of Military Antiquities that existed in Paris at that time struck a medal with the head of Emperor Alexander I of Russia, the winner in that war. This medal is exhibited too, and Emperor Alexander I is called the blessed on it. “This was the initiative of the historian of the Russian army who emigrated from Russia Anton Kersnovsky”, another historian, Igor Domnin, says:
“After Emperor Alexander I made a serious blunder and broke off relations with Napoleon, he started acting irreproachably. He defended Russia’s honour and dignity in the Patriotic War of 1812, proving that he was really blessed in his life”.
There are sensational materials at the exhibition in Moscow too. Meaning a series of drawings showing the guardsmen of Emperor Alexander I of Russia in the 1812 uniforms.
"What created a sensation at the exhibition was the fact that all these drawings were made by the next Russian emperor - Alexander II, at that time the Cesarevitch (Crown Prince in tsarist Russia)."
For 19th-century Russia the war with Napoleon became an unprecedented example of the unity of the Russian people. And now the memory of the past war should add something to this too, the organizers of the two exhibitions say.
© The Voice of Russia. 31 August, 2012