From almost anywhere in Kyiv if you can see the Dnipro River, you can probably see her - the Mother Motherland, often with the sun’s rays reflecting off her metallic form. With a giant human figure dominating the skyline, it gives the city an almost mythical quality which contrasts sharply with the modern and Soviet architecture one sees elsewhere.
When you get into Kyiv by train from the left bank of the Dnipro River to the right one, this monument will be your brightest impression. The Mother Motherland stands vigilant, her arms raised with sword in one hand, shield in the other.
This monument, dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the Second World War, was unveiled in 1981 after a long and difficult planning process. The statue itself is 62 meters tall and is made entirely of stainless steel. Its base is the Kyiv WWII Museum’s Hall of Glory, inside which one can find the names of over 11,000 soldiers and workers who earned the title of Hero of the Soviet Union or the Hero of Socialist Labor during the war engraved on massive marble slabs. Together with its base, the monument weighs 560 tons. Her sword is 16 meters long, while her shield is 13 meters by 8 and emblazoned with the state seal of the Soviet Union.
Incidentally, the emblem remains despite Ukraine’s decommunization law since the monument is a Second World War memorial and thus exempt from the regulation.
The sculpture was originally the vision of Yevgeny Vuchetich, a Soviet sculptor revered for his monument works. By then, Vuchetich had already designed some of the USSR’s largest and most iconic WWII monuments, most notably The Motherland Calls in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). Sadly, Vuchetich would not survive to see the unveiling of his own creation in Kyiv, as he died in 1974. The monument was seen to completion by Vasyl Borodai.
In the spring and summer, visitors to the Second World War museum may actually go inside the statue for a virtually unbeatable view of the city. For just 200 UAH (apx. $7.40), visitors can go up to the shield, which is 91 meters tall, including the statue’s base. For more information about the monument, visitors can check out the memorial complex’s official website http://www.warmuseum.kiev.ua.
Photos: shutterstock.com (3), James Swierczewski (1), Anna Vishtak (1)