Kremlin Museum Hosts World War One Exhibition Topic: World War I
The exhibition, titled World War I: Forgotten Feats, Heroes and Awards of The Russian Army, marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the WWI. Over five hundred historical relics and documents are presented at the exhibition to reveal the significance and importance of the exploit performed by Russian soldiers and officers, the gallantry displayed by many distinguished representatives of the Russian people during the World War I, the website of the Kremlin Museums reports.
In 1917, when St. Petersburg (then called Petrograd) was under threat of attack of German troops, treasuries of the Imperial family as well as precious decorations and various order insignia from the Chapter of the Russian orders were carefully transferred to the Armoury Chamber. The collection of the Royal family was successfully rescued and preserved in 1918 during the fighting for the Kremlin and later on in 1920s-1930s, in the period of expropriation of the Kremlin treasury, when the newly formed Soviet authorities, requiring a serious financial support in foreign currency, were on the edge of selling the Tsars' treasuries for nothing.
The project introduces military insignia — orders and medals — received by Russian soldiers and officers, including those of the Order of Saint George — the highest military decoration of the Russian Empire. The exposition presents foreign decorations, some of which were awarded to Russian warriors. Most part of these artifacts was transferred to the museum in 1918 as a part of the Chapter of the Russian orders collection. Statute of the Order of Saint Olga, Equal-of-the-Apostles, is of special interest — this decoration was intended for women as an award "for the merits in the various arenas of public and community service, as well as for the deeds and works for the benefit of their neighbour."
The exposition incorporates photographs from the State Archive of the Russian Federation, which still preserve the images of Russian war heroes. Among them are the general A. Brusilov, major-general I. Kostin as well as photos of ordinary soldiers and officers, decorated with various military insignia.
A special group of the exposed relics is closely related to the history of the Royal family. Emperor Nicholas II assumed the role of commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces in August 1915, therefore took the responsibility for the military actions of Russia in war, its victories and losses. Here you can see the famous Easter egg by Carl Faberge firm, which was presented by the Emperor to his wife — Empress Alexander Fyodorovna — for Easter 1916, and a noteworthy memorial item — the officer cavalry broadsword, which had belonged to Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia, who was appointed Inspector general of Artillery.
The Grand Duchesses of the Romanov family made a valuable contribution to the development of military medicine in Russia during the war: the mother of Nicholas II, Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, the president of Russia's Red Cross, and his daughters were involved in the organization of hospitals, sanitary trains and sanatoriums; they worked as medical nurses, provided financial support for various social activities, participated in public events intended for the Russian servicemen, injured during the hostilities. At the exhibition you can see decorations granted to medics and other health-care workers —the insignia of the Order of Red Cross — as well as remarkable photographs with Grand Duchesses in hospital.
As in the Soviet period the World War I has been referred to as a tragic "Imperialist war", launched by European countries along with Russia, the project provides a unique opportunity to learn something new about this historical period, to unveil an interesting page of the Russian history.
More Than $3 Million Allocated from Repairs of Revolutionary Aurora Cruiser Topic: World War I
The crusier Aurora - once the pride of the Imperial Russian Navy
More than $3.3 million have been allocated for the repairs of the Aurora cruiser -a symbol of the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. Now, the ship that has been harbouring in St. Petersburg, is a branch of the Central Naval Museum, ITAR-TASS reports.
The Aurora is not planned to sail to the docks unaided; an operation to bring the ship to a shipyard for repairs will be launched on September 21, when the Aurora with the support of four tow ships will move off its customary mooring berth and head for the docks.
The repairs are planned to continue for around 1.5 years. The Aurora is going to have its hull cleaned and painted anew; the interior of the ship will be restored to resemble its historical image as much as possible. Parts of the ship's hull and mechanisms of historical value that survived to the present day will be left intact, press service Chief of Russia's Western Military District Oleg Kochetkov told ITAR-TASS. But, new systems ensuring safe mooring, fire prevention and monitoring will be established on board, Kochetkov said.
The Aurora was first used as a war ship in the Battle of Tsushima during the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war. During WWI it took part in military operations in the Baltic area. But the ship went down in world history after it fired a historic cannon shot in St. Petersburg in 1917 which heralded the beginning of the 1917 October armed uprising followed by a storm of the emperor's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.
After the socialist revolution the Aurora was used as a training ship. During WWII the Aurora crews fought against Nazis who besieged Leningrad. In 1948 the ship was moored at the Petrograd embankment on the Neva. It had been used since as a training base of the Nakhimov naval school until 1956 when the ship was turned into a museum.
How and Why Russia Forgot the Great War Topic: World War I
The Great War barely features in mass culture, having contributed neither myths nor heroes to Russian folk culture,
and barely having made a dent in nation's wealth of arts and literature.
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the August 1st, 2014 edition of The St. Petersburg Times. The author Alexey Eremenko, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
Russia lost 3 million people in World War I. But it also provided examples of explosive military strength and economic resilience that would make any nation proud.
And yet, though the 100th anniversary of the war — which Russia joined on Aug. 1, 1914 — has revived some interest in the event, Russians generally do not often speak of World War I.
This is a nation that loves and cherishes memories of other past military triumphs. World War II has developed a cult-like status over the decades, and even the Great Patriotic War against Napoleon is widely discussed and revered.
But beyond the history books, the Great War hardly features in mass culture, having contributed neither myths nor heroes to Russian folk culture, and hardly having made a dent in nation's wealth of arts and literature.
World War I's marginal position in Russian lore owes to the fact that it fell between the cracks of history, or — more specifically — between the Tsarist and Bolshevik regimes, Russian scholars said.
In destroying the tsars, the Bolshevik revolutionaries denounced the Great War as imperialist, thus robbing it of its potential for a popular legacy. . . . .
To read the full article published on Royal Russia News, please click on the link below:
H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia Issues Statement on the 100th Anniversary of the Beginning of the First World War Topic: World War I
Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
Statement from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, on the 100th Anniversary of the Beginning of the First World War, 1914-1918. Issued on August 1st, 2014.
To read the full statement published on Royal Russia News, please click on the link below:
World War I Monument Erected in St. Petersburg Topic: World War I
A new monument to Russian WWI soldiers near the Vitebsk Railway Station in St. Petersburg
A monument to Russian soldiers who fought in World War I has been unveiled in St. Petersburg, the city administration said.
The Russian Guard of the Great War monument marks the centenary of the start of World War I.
The bronze memorial consists of a cross with a bas relief showing soldiers on a train leaving for the front. It stands near *Vitebsk Station, the rail terminal from where troop trains were setting off for the battlefields, the administration said in a statement. *Formerly known as the Tsarskoye Selo Station, it was the first railway station built in Russia. It was inaugurated in 1837 in the presence of Emperor Nicholas I when the first train departed for the Imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo. In later years, members of the Russian Imperial family departed from a detached pavilion for Tsarskoye Selo. In recent years, a painstaking restoration of the station's original and elaborate Art Nouveau interiors was carried out. A bust of Emperor Nicholas I has been placed in the central hall of the station - PG
The authors of the monument are sculptors Mikhail Pereyaslavets, who are members of the Grekov Military Artists Studio, and architect Anton Korolyov.
"World War I not only redrew geographical maps but also affected the future of many nations. It brought sorrow to millions of people all over the world. In unveiling this monument, we restore historical justice and pay homage to the Russian soldiers and officers who did not spare their life in defending their country. It is a very important monument for the rising generation. We must ensure that the past is maintained in public memory, and we must honor the traditions and great accomplishments of our ancestors," St. Petersburg Acting Governor Georgy Poltavchenko said at the unveiling ceremony.
After the ceremony, the bishop of Peterhof, Markel, led a memorial service for those killed in World War I.
Putin Attends Opening of Russian WWI Monument Topic: World War I
On Friday, August 1st, Russia's President Vladimir Putin attended a ceremony to unveil a Monument to the Heroes of the First World War, the Kremlin press service reported. The monument unveiling ceremony is one of key events dedicated to the centenary of the outbreak of WWI, ITAR-TASS reports.
The idea of erecting such a monument was suggested by the Russian Ministry of Culture. The Monument was made by scupltors Andrey Kovalchuk, P. Lyubimov, V. Yusupov, and architects Mikhail Korsi and S. Shlyonkina.
A decision to erect the Monument in a place between the Arch of Triumph and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War was made in April 2013. An open contest for the best design of the monument was held with the backing of the Culture Ministry and the Russian Miliary History Society. A drive was also organized to collect money for the creation of the Monument, which consists of two elements: the figure of a Russian soldier, who went through the war and became a holder of St George Cross medals, and a multifigure composition embodying the flag of Russia. The soldier is shown wearing an overcoat roll and his chest adorned with St. George Crosses
The overall weigh of the Monument together with the pedestal is about 100 metric tons. The Moscow city authorities allocated 74 million rubles for the erection of the Monument.
President Vladimir Putin speaks at a ceremony to unveil a monument to WWI heroes on Poklonnaya Hill
The tragedy of WWI reminds us what excessive ambitions, an unwillingness to listen to each other and violations of liberties lead to, Russia's president said. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the memorial to the Heroes of WWI in Moscow.
According to Putin, the memorial is not only “a tribute to the great deeds,” but also a warning that “this peace is fragile.”
“And we have to guard peace. And remember that the most valuable thing on Earth is a peaceful and quiet life,” he added.
Numerous examples in world history show “what a terrible price” is paid if human rights and liberties are violated for the sake of serving vested interests.
“Humankind should grasp one truth: violence generates violence. And the way to peace and prosperity is made up of good will and dialogue, and the memory of the lessons of the last wars.”
He added that Russia stepped for strong and trusting relationships between the countries throughout the centuries.
“It was on the eve of WWI when Russia did everything possible to solve the conflict peacefully, without bloodshed, between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. But Russia wasn’t heard. And it had to respond to the challenge in order to protect the [fellow] Slavic nation.”
“And instead of saving the most successful continent in the world – Europe – [ambitions and aggression] are endangering it.”
Putin said that a century ago "Russia had to take part in WWI and now we are opening the memorial to its heroes – Russian soldiers.”
Russia is now immortalizing the historical truth of World War I, he added.
“We have numerous examples of courage … and true patriotism of Russian soldiers, the whole Russian society."
The memorial to the heroes of WWI stands in Moscow’s on Poklonnaya Hill, in the city’s Victory Park, one of the highest spots in the Russian capital.
It consists of two elements: a Russian soldier who fought in WWI and a composition representing the Russian flag. The soldier is shown wearing the Cross of St. George, one of Russia’s highest military decorations.
Russia Starts to Rehabilitate its Forgotten War Topic: World War I
Emperor Nicholas II speaks from the balcony of the Winter Palace to a large crowd in Palace Square in St. Petersburg
announcing Russia’s entry into war with Germany, August 2nd [O.S. July 20th], 1914
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 23rd, 2014 edition of the Irish Times. The author Isabel Gorst, owns the copyright of the version presented below.
Defeat and its fallout meant the first World War went unheralded until last year
There are only three marked graves in Moscow’s former Brethren cemetery, where the bodies of thousands of soldiers and officers who perished in the first World War were laid to rest beneath the aged oak and lime trees.
For most of the last 100 years Russia has tried to bury memories of the conflict of 1914-1918 and the even more disastrous civil war that followed in its wake.
However, as the centenary of the outbreak of the first World War approaches, Russia has begun to delve into its history and talk about the so-called forgotten war.
Russia commemorated the outbreak of the war for the first time last year in what was seen as a milestone in the complicated rediscovery process. At the same time the Kremlin announced a competition to design a memorial to the millions of Russians who rose up in 1914 “to protect the motherland”.
Andrei Kovalchuk, president of the Russian Artists’ Union, made the winning sculpture, of a soldier brandishing a huge Russian flag. It will be unveiled on August 1st at Poklonny Hill park in Moscow, where there are already memorials to other wars – including the second World War and the 1812 defeat of Napoleon – about which Russia feels more proud.
Statues by the two runners- up in the competition will be unveiled on the same day at Gusev in the Kaliningrad region and Pskov in western Russia, both scenes of important battles fought by the Russian imperial army against the central alliance.
The reasons why the Kremlin sought for so long to bury memories of the first World War go much deeper than the obvious fact that Russia suffered a humiliating defeat in 1918 and lost control of large swathes of territory in the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine.
Shot as traitors
Many of the soldiers who survived the battles went on to fight for the White army in the bloody civil war that tore Russia apart after the Bolsheviks or “Reds” seized power. Men who in other circumstances would have been hailed as heroes were rounded up in large numbers by the Soviets and shot as traitors.
In the Soviet encyclopedia the 1914-1918 war was dismissed as “an imperial struggle between capitalist powers for the redivision of a divided world.” Information about the war disappeared from the official historic narrative, which highlighted the rise of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik revolution and the foundation of the first communist state.
Russia has struggled to come to terms with its history and establish a new identity since the Soviet Union collapsed.
President Vladimir Putin, who has set out to restore Russia’s great power status, understands the consolidating role history can play. Huge crowds attended an exhibition in Moscow honouring the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty that the Russian president opened last year. A special commission founded by Putin is organising a series of exhibitions and educational events to mark the centenary and bring the first World War into the mainstream of Russian history and cultural life. Among the highlights will be the Last Battle of the Russian Empire at the State Historical Museum in Moscow’s Red Square – the first exhibition dedicated to the first World War staged in Russia.
“We live in a different country now and can look at the war more widely,” says Kirill Meerov, head of multimedia projects at the Historical Museum. “It was all so politicised before.”
An even more ambitious endeavour is under way in St Petersburg, where the authorities are restoring the first World War Museum founded at the Ratnaya Palata, or Armoury, by Tsar Nicholas II in 1915. Most of the original exhibits either disappeared or were hidden in archives when the Soviets took power and destroyed the place. Curators have appealed to the Russian public to donate any first World War memorabilia they can find, from old photographs, clothing to binoculars and gas masks.
Soviet and more recently Russian directors have made countless films about the second World War and are now looking to the first World War for inspiration. With the support of the Russian culture ministry, Igor Ugolnikov is producing Death Battalion, which tells the story of a woman who joined Russia’s first female combat unit founded by the provisional government in 1917.
It was essential that Russia produced a film about the war to coincide with the centenary, Ugolnikov told the Vecherny Petersburg newspaper. “Few people want to talk about the first World War, it’s understandable that there is nothing to be proud of . . . Patriotism is not only about saying ‘Hurrah’; it’s about showing human tales from the war.”
Russians have mixed feelings about the revival of the war’s history. In recent years the Moscow authorities have installed war memorials in the former Brethren cemetery and allowed the descendants of White army soldiers to reinstate tombstones torn down in the Soviet era.
However, Tatiana Bartsova, a local pensioner who grew up at a time when it was forbidden to talk about the cemetery, said it was best not to dig up the past. “Everyone died – even officers – in that meat grinder, and the civil war was even worse. All over Moscow we are walking on bones.”
How 'Willy' and 'Nicky' Failed to Avert WWI Topic: World War I
Emperor Nicholas II of Russia with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany
In the four days before World War I broke out, the Russian tsar and his cousin the German emperor -- "Willy" and "Nicky" as they nicknamed each other -- traded telegrams in a last-ditch bid to save peace, even as their army chiefs readied for battle.
On July 29, 1914, a day after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia's Nicholas II sent the first of these oddly surreal English-language telegrams to Wilhelm II, pledging his affection and commitment to peace.
"I foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure forced upon me and be forced to take extreme measures which will lead to war," read the first message from Nicholas II, sent hours before Russia ordered a general mobilisation that would in turn pull Germany into the war.
"To try and avoid such a calamity as a European war I beg you in the name of our old friendship to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far," the tsar wrote.
Writing the same day, informed that Russia was about to mobilise -- a clear casus belli for Germany's army chiefs -- Wilhelm II pleaded with his cousin to stay out of the Austria-Serbia conflict.
"With regard to the hearty and tender friendship which binds us both from long ago with firm ties, I am exerting my utmost influence to induce the Austrians to deal straightly to arrive to a satisfactory understanding with you," the German wrote, signing off: "Your very sincere and devoted friend and cousin. Willy".
The first two telegrams crossed one another, like most that followed.
"Willy" went on to urge "Nicky" for "Russia to remain a spectator of the Austro-Serbian conflict without involving Europe in the most horrible war she ever witnessed."
Nicholas thanked Wilhelm for his attempts to mediate, and appealed to "the wisdom and friendship" of his German cousin to put an end to Austria's war preparations.
- 'On your shoulders now' -
But on July 30, Wilhelm -- having received news that Russia was mobilising its troops -- warned Nicholas this would endanger his role as mediator and force Germany to take "preventive measures of defence".
The next day came the admission from Nicholas II that -- while he hopes mediation with Vienna can still bear fruit -- he was powerless to reverse the military march.
"It is technically impossible to stop our military preparations which were obligatory owing to Austria's mobilisation," he wrote, signing off: "Your affectionate, Nicky".
By this point Wilhelm II had become markedly less affectionate, laying the responsibility for the looming disaster squarely with his cousin.
"The whole weight of the decision lies solely on you(r) shoulders now, who have to bear the responsibility for Peace or War," he wrote on July 30.
"The responsibility for the disaster which is now threatening the whole civilised world will not be laid at my door," he warned the following day, with Berlin poised to enter the war.
Still, Nicholas II seemed to believe until the last that war could be averted, sending an SOS on the morning of August 1 in which he asked Wilhelm II to confirm that Germany's mobilisation did not mark the end of efforts for peace.
"Our long proved friendship must succeed, with God's help, in avoiding bloodshed. Anxiously, full of confidence await your answer. Nicky."
But the die had been cast.
"Willy" replied tersely that he could no longer discuss the matter short of "immediate affirmative clear and unmistakable" message calling off the Russian mobilisation -- something he already knew to be impossible.
"As a matter of fact I must request you to immediatly [sic] order your troops on no account to commit the slightest act of trespassing over our frontiers."
That evening, at 7:00 pm, "Willy" declared war on "Nicky" and the "horror", "bloodshed" and "disaster" foretold by the courteous cousins had begun.
Russia Prepares First Museum Dedicated to World War I Topic: World War I
The restoration and reconstruction of the Ratnaya Palata for museum use began in 2011.
The new World War I museum will open at Tsarskoye Selo in August 2014.
Photo Credit: citywalls.ru
The following article was originally published in the December 17th, 2013 edition of the Art Newspaper. The author Sophia Kishkovsky owns the copyright presented below.
If all goes to plan, 100 years after Tsar Nicholas II mobilised his vast army for war with Germany and Austro-Hungary, Russia will open a First World War museum that is not dominated by a Marxist interpretation of history.
The Moscow office of the US-based design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates is in discussions with Russia’s ministry of culture to create a First World War museum at the Ratnaya Palata, a former military museum in Tsarskoye Selo, which was the country residence of the tsars. The ambitious project will require military precision to meet its planned opening date of 1 August 2014.
“The main thing is that the [war] museum is interesting, so that people who come will want to return with their friends and children,” said Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky. He was speaking in a meeting at the end of October, when concepts for the project were presented, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Medinsky, the author of a bestselling 2011 book about the Second World War, has been a major proponent of the new museum.
Restoring the war’s legacy
Natalia Narochnitskaya, a historian who leads a foundation campaigning for projects to educate Russians about the First World War, says: “Throughout the Soviet period, [the conflict] was interpreted as imperial and unnecessary. How can one say that when it threatened our entire 300-year history?”
The Appelbaum-designed Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre opened in 2012 in Moscow’s landmark Constructivist bus depot, which was designed in 1927 by the avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov. The Jewish museum’s multimedia design attracted the attention of Russian officials, who see it as a way to draw younger audiences to the First World War museum.
The ministry has also set its sights on Star Media, a film and television production company that makes historical documentaries, romantic comedies and a Russian version of “Dancing with the Stars”. The aim is for the company to work with Appelbaum’s Russian-based team to create content for the museum and to restore the legacy of the war to Russia’s historical consciousness.
Nick Appelbaum, a partner of Ralph Appelbaum Associates, visited Moscow last month to meet officials from the ministry. He says: “I understand that there is an ideological component behind any government project. I can’t say to what extent that is driving this. I would say that everyone is looking to clearly say what happened and that’s what’s been missing. We’re seeing it in all the projects we are working on [in Russia].”
The construction of the Ratnaya Palata, or Military Chambers, began in 1913. The cornerstone was laid in the presence of Nicholas II and work was completed in 1917. Yelena Tretyakova, the widowed sister-in-law of Pavel Tretyakov, the founder of Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, was the military museum’s main benefactor. It was initially meant to be a museum of the history of Russia’s military forces, but, as events unfolded, it became a museum of the Great War. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the museum’s collection was dispersed among other museums or destroyed. The building was severely damaged during the Second World War.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has been working on a concept for reviving the war museum since 2008. “We will turn over everything that we developed and collected, everything we prepared in terms of content, and it will all be adapted to the new concept,” says Iraida Bott, the deputy director of Tsarskoye Selo. “It will be more interactive. There will be some paintings; we don’t have a lot of paintings in our collection, and as it won’t be possible to make a convincing array from our collection, it is most likely that another [medium] will be used.”
There is a growing demand for exhibitions devoted to historical topics that were previously repressed or depicted through the prism of Soviet ideology. In November, a queue of visitors snaked past the Kremlin wall to get into the Manege exhibition hall for a Russian Orthodox Church-sponsored multimedia exhibition about the Romanov dynasty. A press statement about the show boasted of “350 multimedia carriers”, including touchscreens, 50in plasma screens, light boxes, tablet computers with interactive quizzes and educational apps developed specially for the exhibition.
The most valuable artefact on show is an icon of the Mother of God, with which Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov was blessed in the 17th century before he became Michael I of Russia. It was lent by Kostroma’s Epiphany Monastery.
For more information on this new museum, please refer to the following Royal Russia links;
Historians Meet at Tsarskoye Selo to Assess Russia's Role in World War I Topic: World War I
The Third International Academic Conference entitled The First World War, Versailles System and Contemporary World runs October 11-12 at Tsarskoye Selo. It focuses on Russia’s role in the war-time events.
The First International Academic Conference, The First World War, the Versailles System and the Present, was held at the St. Petersburg State University in 2009.
The current conference, organized by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, Russian Military & Historical Society, St. Petersburg State University, Russian Association of WWI Historians, and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Universal History, gathered over 100 historians from the largest Russian and foreign universities and research centers. The honorary guests and attendees include representatives of Tsarskoye Selo, Hermitage, Central WWII Museum and Russia’s Defense Ministry.
The conference will see a presentation of the first modern Russian WWI museum, Russia in the Great War, which is to open at the Martial Chamber of Tsarskoye Selo on August 1st, 2014.