The Soviet War Memorial in London

Aeriel-view-of-2015-event

Aerial view of the event on Victory Day in 2015 | Аэрофотоснимок мероприятия в День Победы в 2015 году

The Soviet War Memorial is located in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, which is next to the Imperial War Museum on Lambeth Road in the south-east of London. It is the only memorial in the United Kingdom that commemorates all those from the countries of the Former Soviet Union who died during World War Two, also known as the Great Patriotic War in many of those countries.

The original idea for the memorial came from ceremonies that took place in 1995 at the graves of Red Army soldiers buried in the south of England, to mark the 50th anniversary of the allied victory over the Nazis. The London-based Society for Co-operation in Russian and Soviet Studies then took the proposal forward and the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund was formed, with the aim of building support and raising money for the creation of a suitable memorial to commemorate all Soviet wartime losses, both military and civilian.

Russian-Embassy-wreath-laying

The ambassador of the Russian Federation lays a wreath at the event on Victory Day in 2019 | Посол Российской Федерации возлагает венок на мероприятие в День Победы в 2019 году

The fundraising process went well and a suitable site was identified in the park next to the Imperial War Museum. A ceremony was held there on 9 May (known as Victory Day in Russia and other countries of the Former Soviet Union) 1998 in the presence of the British Minister of Defence and the Russian Ambassador and detailed design work then began on the memorial itself. Following discussions with the Russian War Memorial Association, the sculptor Sergei Shcherbakov, a resident of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), was commissioned to create the memorial itself. His design, a bronze sculpture named “Sorrowful”, is a 3.5m high semi-abstract figure, holding aloft a bell which will forever remain silent in memory of those who died. The sculpture was cast in Russia, while the memorial stone and base were made in the UK. The main inscription on the stone reads:

ВЕЧНАЯ ВАМ ПАМЯТЬ

This memorial commemorates the 27 million Soviet citizens
& service men & women who died for the Allied Victory in WWII

WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM

In addition, the stone records, in both English and Russian, that “This Memorial was raised by public subscription in Great Britain and Russia”.

Soviet-veterans-parading

Russian veterans of World War Two arrive at the event on Victory Day in 2019 | Российские ветераны Второй мировой войны прибывают на мероприятие в День Победы в 2019 году

The memorial was unveiled on 9 May 1999, with the first wreath being laid by
HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In the 20 years since its creation, it has become the focus in the UK for commemoration of the role that the Soviet Union played in World War Two, and the sacrifices made by its citizens. Well-attended ceremonies are held on 27 January (Holocaust Memorial Day), 9 May (Victory Day) and on Remembrance Sunday in November, with wreaths being laid by a wide range of organisations and individuals.

HRH-Duke-of-Kent-lays-first-wreath-at-newly-unveiled-Soviet-War-Memorial-May-9-1999

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent lays the first wreath in 1999 | Его Королевское Высочество герцог Кентский возлагает первый венок в 1999 году

Saturday 9 May 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe. The Soviet War Memorial Trust, the charity that has taken over the role of looking after the memorial and organising commemorative events, will be putting on a special ceremony to mark this important date and it is hoped that RBCC members will consider taking part or making a contribution towards the cost of the event. Further details of the Trust’s activities can be found on its website at www.sovietwarmemorialtrust.com.


Bulletin Online

Related Article:

Bulletin Online

Date Published:

19 December 2019

Author:

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Jon Holloway

Category:

Feature