Four bronze soldiers stand representing the allied powers of Britain, France, the Soviets and America against the Nazis. While the West is often portrayed as the World War II victors who defeated the Nazi army, here Russians are the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, the Russian title for the same conflict. By 1943 the Soviet Union had lost over five million soldiers, yet still managed to come out of the war victorious in 1945 – but at a significant expense. It is estimated that close to 26 million Soviets died during the war, including around 11 million soldiers, while the Nazi army lost about three quarters of their army when engaged in Soviet combat.
Volgograd was the site for the Battle of Stalingrad, one of the most brutal conflict sites of World War II. Around 1.8 million people were killed, injured or captured during the fighting which engaged a little over two million soldiers in the warfare. The battle, which lasted just over five months, was a major loss for the German military, and weakened their resources and power significantly against other armies as well. To commemorate war efforts and costs, an immense statue of a sword wielding woman stands high on top of a hill. At the time of being built it was the tallest statue ever, and still is the tallest statue in Europe as well as being an epic depiction of the efforts undertaken by the Red Army to defeat the Germans.
A harrowing memorial that depicts the human cost of war, The Tragedy of People sombrely conveys the human cost through a row of emancipated people, lined up like a row of dominos, that morph into tombstones. Personal belongings – dropped teddy bears, broken glasses, and the like – are scattered around as if dropped by their owners, who also morph into indiscernible entities. Not just referring to Nazi persecution of Jewish people, the Russian Holocaust also refers to the Nazi victimisation of Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, Slavs and socialists as well. By the end of WWII, close to 3.5 million Soviets lost their lives in German war prisons, and near to six million Jews were killed.
Nearly a third of St Petersburg died due to conflict and the subsequent famine during the Siege of Leningrad, which saw the city shut off from supplies for nearly two years. Another conflict between the German forces, it is regarded as one of the most destructive sieges in history. With insufficient rations, desperate people resorted to eating pets and animals, and even a few despairing residents turned to cannibalism. In the heart of St Petersburg, the city’s multifaceted and sorrowful WWII memorial reflects the hardships of the people during this time. A huge obelisk hulks over the centre sculpture piece where soldiers look on as a woman holds her emancipated child and another cradles an ill man.