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The following photos and commentary were provided by Michael Hawash,
one of Russ's readers, after his recent tour of Russia and visit
The photoessay records a tribute performed May 9, 2005, the 60th
Anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, in remembrance of Russ
and all participants and victims in the Battle of Stalingrad. This
gesture is a recognition of Siege as a statement against the unnecessary
human cost of war.
We went to the top of "Mamayev Kurgan,"
the hill that dominates the city of Stalingrad on which the
Russians have built a massive war memorial called Mother Russia.
Almost 1 million Russian soldiers and civilians died defending
Stalingrad. Almost 70,000 are buried beneath the hill on which
the statue of Mother Russia now stands.
||One of the many sculptures and statues that lie
on the grounds surrounding Mother Russia. This one is of a mother
cradling her son who has been killed in battle. Unlike most
American war memorials that typically glorify heroic events,
many of the Russian memorials do not shy away from depicting
carnage and the human cost of war.
||A closer view of Mother Russia. The massive concrete
statue weighs 1000 tons, more than 15 times the Statue of Liberty.
||A few of the hundreds of men and women veterans
who came to pay their respects on May 9, 2005, known as "Victory
Day" in Russia. We were able to participate in the ceremony
because there were no official representatives from the United
States. Our interpreter, a professor from the University of
Volgograd, told the Russian officials what we were the American
delegation. Accordingly, we were given the VIP treatment and
allowed access to areas reserved for veterans only.
||Another view of Mother Russia. The tiny people
at the base show the immense size of the statue.
||That is me placing a wreath on which I placed
Russ' tank in the reflection pool in front of the statue of
Mother Russia. The gentlemen to my right in the white shirt,
just read my dedication to the assembled veterans which went
as follows: "In remembrance of Russ Schneider and all of
the participants of the Battle of Stalingrad, be they combatants
or noncombatants, officers or other ranks, friend or foe. May
the World never forget the folly of men so what happened on
this hallowed ground need never be repeated. In peace we pray."
||Russ' tank sets off on its last mission.
||A view of the wreath and tank floating on the
reflection pool. The card attached to the wreath contains the
text of the dedication read before the launch.
||Children and spectators watch the wreath and
tank float past. More than one little boy tried to reach the
tank before they were hauled back by watchful mothers who realized
the tank was obviously something more than a toy.
||Wreath and tank float out into the center of
the reflection pool while veterans, visitors, and ordinary Russians
pay their respects to the fallen.
||A close-up of the wreath and tank.
||The crowds file down from the center of Stalingrad
to the banks of the Volga where the Red Army stopped the German
advance. From this point, the Germans marched backwards until
they were finally defeated in Berlin on May 9, 1945, exactly
60 years earlier.