Any visitor to the Ukrainian city of Kiev can’t miss the monumental Mother Motherland statue. This statue is part of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in WW2 and measures an astounding 102 metres tall. The statue dominates the skyline and can be seen from all across the city. Despite this the statue was originally intended to be even taller. The sword was shortened as at its original height was greater than the cross of the nearby Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a local Christian monastery.
Weighting in at an impressive 560 tons, the figure holds aloft a sword in its right hand and a shield in its left. Upon the shield lies the state emblem of the Soviet Union. Visitors are able to go up as high as the shield for arguably one of the best views of the city. At first glance it is hard to define the intended emotions of the statue. I would go with stoicism, magnanimity and resilience. Any other answers in the comments please…
The statue was intended to commemorate and honour those who died during WW2. Below the mammoth structure at its base lies a memorial hall museum. Inside, upon marble plaques, are displayed the names of around 11,600 soldiers and over 200 workers who died during WW2. The were honoured with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union or of Hero of Socialist Labor. Having said all this the statue isn’t the only sight on site. There are also a number of soviet era sculptures of soldiers and workers. There are even a few WW2 era tanks with accompanying Soviet anthems.
It is rumoured that in the 1950s the site was originally intended as site for two colossal 200 metre statues of Vladmir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. This idea was scrapped and it wasn’t until much later in the 1970s, the story goes, that a group of group of Communist party big wigs along with the sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich arrived in Kiev by boat. Looking across at the Kiev skyline they decided the panorama was just crying out for a war memorial. Vuchetich was famed as the creator of two other famous war memorials. The Motherland Calls in Volgograd and the Soviet Soldier Carrying German Infant in East Berlin. He was initially tasked with the project but Vuchetich died in 1974 before the plans were finished. The project was then taken over by Vasyl Borodai and the designs were substantially changed.
The final plans were finalised in 1978 and sent for approval and the construction of the monument began the following year in 1979. The cost of the project was quoted at the time be at a minimum around 9 million rubles. This caused a great deal of grumbling among locals who felt the money could have been better spent. The statue was opened in 1981 in a ceremony attended by the then Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
As of 2016 many would like the statue to be pulled down and the metal used for more productive purposes. Others claim that the statue is built on unstable foundations and that it is a danger to visitors. In April 2015, the national parliament of Ukraine passed legislation banning Soviet and Communist symbols. This included monuments, busts, statues, engravings and street names. This “decommunisation” however had a particular exemption clause. It excluded WW2 monuments and as such the Mother Motherland statue survives for now.