Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rostov-on-Don Honored by Russian President

In one of his last acts as leader of Russia, President Vladimir Putin declared Rostov-on-Don a Heroic City for its role in World War II. Cities such as St Petersburg, Volgograd, Moscow and Kiev have long been Heroic Cities. And President Putin expanded that list to include Rostov among others.

Below is Rostov at its best. You'll see several sights around Theatre Square, an area heavily bombed during the war.

The tall obelisk, Stella, commemorates the end of Nazi occupation during World War 2 and overlooks the Don River and vast steppe which stretches out to the south. The white and boxy building featured early in the video is Gorky Theatre, named in honor of Maxim Gorky, the great Russian writer. The theatre is built in the shape of a tractor, of all things, but to honor the importance of agriculture in the Rostov area.

Of course during the war, things were quite different. Thanks to YouTube, we can see German newsreels from WW2.

Here is close combat in Rostov, July 1942. It's sad to see what was done to the beautiful city, albeit 60-plus years ago.

Back to happier times, the photos below courtesy of A.A. Dolgyshev.

Rostov from the air. Notice the Don River flowing along, 35 miles west to the Sea of Azov and then into the Black Sea.

Theatre Square, downtown Rostov. On the left is Gorky Theatre, in the foreground is the fountain. Both were damaged by bombs and have been repaired.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful panoramic view of Rostov and her golden domes, as seen in the Don photo, Eileen. It was just such domes that first inspired my love for Russia and her truly intriguing people, architecture and history, many decades ago. Great to see that Rostov has been named a "Hero City," as have Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad, and Stalingrad. Lord knows, after two Nazi occupations and some of the meanest fighting seen in World War II, the city and her inhabitants fully deserve the belated honorific. If I rightly recall from my reading, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's mother died in or near Rostov as the battle pitched to and fro at it's peak in 1942, or during Manstein's summer drive to Grozny and the Caucasus' oil fields. Thirty years ago, legendary American author Herman Wouk noted that the Russian landscape by the summer of 1942 bore a striking resemblance to the moon, due to the devastation wrought by just one year's fighting. Remarkably, the Germans kept film of these events and distributed it to theaters across the Third Reich, entitled "Wochenschau" ('Weekly Show"). To give the devil his due, these films are likely the most accurate and most vivid portrayal of combat action in Russia the international public will ever see. Thanks for sharing all this. One can only hope that every Russian youth today fully understands the incredibly heroic nature of the rapidly vanishing segment of aged men and women who comprise what remains of the once 13 million-strong Soviet armed forces of World War II.