Volgograd Regional Museum

This room is on the early 20th Century, and is hung with banners “1917” and “2017”. The latest date I see on the political posters which ring the ceiling is 1921. The Revolution had triumphed, there was no New Economic Policy yet, and Lenin was still alive. Notice there is no blue in the posters, yet the display cases are hung with blue along with red and white.

The Russian Federation tricolor is in each corner of this room, where the contents are otherwise red. None of the labels are in a language other than Russian, so I can only skim the surface. Period photos of the Tsar and his family seem to show the aristocracy held in respect by the bourgeoisie. Posters of the Revolution show workers throwing off the oppression of capitalists (western?) but serfdom and the disaster of WW I don’t seem dealt with. I continue to wonder how modern Russians claim the Revolution as a part of their heritage.

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Stalingrad

Bunker entrance for the 1942 city defense committee.

Obelisk is in memory of the Red Tsaritsyn deaths at the hands of the White Guard, 1919. The eternal flame and plaque are dedicated to those who fought 1942-43.

This memorializes the August-November 1942 bombing. The city was completely destroyed in the first few days. The Luftwaffe continued flying nonstop over the next months, with an average of 1,000 sorties per day.

Volga River, facing east. I like saying that: “Here is a photo I took from the bank of the Volga River, facing east.”

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Yalta

Livadia Palace

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Zmievskaya Balka, Rostov-on-Don

This statue has a lot of raw power for me. One woman stands erect, futilely raising her hands to shield herself and the child who hides behind her. A man stretches out his bound wrists, looking directly towards his executioners with mournful eyes. While his body is bent his head, like the woman’s is erect. He may have no choice but to accept his death, yet he doesn’t show surrender. By his side lie another man and woman. This man has head bowed. His head slumps between his shoulders, his arms seeming to strain to hold his body off the ground. He has perhaps already been shot. The second woman cries out, holding a hand to her face – she too, has perhaps already been struck with bullets.

I know nothing of the provenance of the work, and so my thoughts are but baseless conjecture. I find myself wondering if the style here is in part due to the victims in this ravine including a significant fraction of non-Jews. I say this knowing it is quite possibly entirely unfair. I’m just taken with the range of ways those murdered by state action are depicted.

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Lost in Translation

Sitting in a bar/restaurant in Rostov-on-Don waiting for the Skoda’s oil to be changed. Bar has THT music videos on. I’m finding them bizarre, and wondering if they are any more bizarre than American music videos. Young men, lonely and tormented, seem to be endlessly “saved” by angelic young women. I’m certainly not in my 20s any more. Even when I was I didn’t relate to these scenes. Perhaps I’m simply not artistic enough to be lonely and tormented.

Where is the music video showing the guy who meets a woman who can intelligently discuss Yuliya Yurchenko? Perhaps what seem like trite and formulaic portrayals of young angst and redemption here are really allegory? The young man is Greece’s economy and the woman the EU?

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Voronezh

Lenin’s statue dominates his square. He seems at home here, as he did in Vitebsk. At Chornobyl he was a visitor who had overstayed his welcome.

I walked to Voronezh’s Lenin Square from a hotel which blasted the “70s and More” radio station in its restaurant, furnishing diners with Stevie Wonder, Booker T and similar rather un-Russian artists, presented by an American DJ who would be at home in Blandville in any of the contiguous 48 states. How do young Russians reconcile these worlds?

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Kharkiv Holodomor Memorial

The eyes of each of these figures were haunting.

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Poltava

Memorial to the men who died defending the base when the Luftwaffe attacked the American bombers here

Rotary launcher for nuclear missiles

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Chornobyl

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National Museum of the History of Ukraine

Suspended in the museum’s stairwell are munitions. A glance shows that these are quite modern, not from either of the world wars.

Looking down you can see where the bombs and missiles are falling: on eastern Ukraine. Ukraine is a country at war.

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