Motherland Calls Statue at a Glance
What is the Motherland Calls statue?
The Motherland Calls statue is a memorial located in the city of Volgograd in Russia. It is a monument to the Battle of Stalingrad, depicting a female figure holding a sword and urging her children to defend the country.
How tall is the Motherland Calls statue?
The Motherland Calls statue stands at a height of 279 feet (85 m) from the top of the base to the end of the sword. The statue itself is 170 feet (52 m) tall, while the length of the sword is 108 feet (33 m). It is the world’s tallest statue of a woman (without the base), Europe’s tallest statue, and the world’s second-tallest non-religious statue, after the Statue of Unity.
Who modeled for the Motherland Calls statue?
Nina Dumbadze, a discus thrower, is the woman who modeled for the Motherland Calls statue. However, some sources suggest that it could have been Valentina Izotova or Ekaterina Grebneva.
How long did it take to build the Motherland Calls statue?
The construction of the Motherland Calls statue took 15 years, with the first 8 years spent on planning and laying the groundwork. The construction started in May of 1959 in Stalingrad (now Volgograd), and the statue was opened to the public on October 15, 1967.
The Motherland Calls statue is a memorial that stands 279 feet (85 m) tall in the Russian city of Volgograd, which used to be called Stalingrad. It is a monument to the Battle of Stalingrad and can be found atop Mamayev Kurgan (the word “kurgan” means “grave tumulus” and comes from ancient Turkic). Sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and civil engineer Nikolai Nikitin collaborated on the monument’s design. When it was unveiled in 1967, it was the tallest monument on the globe. To this day, it stands as the world’s tallest statue of a woman (without the base), Europe’s tallest statue, and the world’s second-tallest non-religious statue, after the Statue of Unity.
The Motherland Calls Statue in Numbers
The Motherland Calls statue is a female figure holding a sword and urging her children to defend the country. The total weight of the monument is 5,500 tons of concrete and 2,400 tons of metal, and it has a height of 279 feet (85 m) from the top of the base to the end of the sword. The whole monument weighs around 8,000 tons in total. The statue itself is 170 feet (52 m) tall, while the length of the sword is 108 feet (33 m).
On the trail to the Mamayev Kurgan and the Motherland Calls statue, a Red Army soldier greets the visitors. He is depicted unclothed to convey that the soldier is shielding his chest for the motherland.
Together with the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin (erected in 1949) and the Rear-Front Memorial in Magnitogorsk (erected in 1979), the Motherland Calls Statue forms a triptych (a work of art with three separate sections). All three figures depicted in the triptych are humans armed with swords.
The Woman Chosen for the Statue
Nina Dumbadze, the model who posed for the Motherland Calls statue, was a discus thrower. In the early 1960s, one of the memorial’s designers, Lev Maistrenko, hired her to be the statue itself. For the monument’s face, the sculptor Vuchetich reportedly used his wife, Vera.
In other sources, it was Valentina Izotova or Ekaterina Grebneva who the sculptures created the whole Motherland Calls monument. She was a Volgograd local. At the time of the monument’s completion, Leonid Brezhnev was in control of the Soviet Union.
The hill on which the monument stands, known as Mamayev Kurgan, is the final resting place for some 35,000 members of the Red Army. That is why the Motherland Calls statue is featured prominently on the banner and coat of arms of the Volgograd Oblast and is now widely recognized as an emblem of Russia.
The Motherland Calls Statue’s History
Constructive Concept and Plan
The Battle of Stalingrad was commemorated with a memorial initiative launched in 1958 by the Council of Ministers of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. After a massive effort, all explosives and munitions were removed before the statue’s base could be set in the Mamayev Kurgan.
Soviet sculptor Ernst Neizvestny’s original concept for the monument, depicting a kneeling combatant holding a folded red flag, was ultimately scrapped. It was later conveyed that the memorial should depict a mother encouraging her children to fend off enemies by placing a sword in front of her. This concept was developed by architects Yevgeny Vuchetich and Nikolai Nikitin. (Yevgeny Vuchetich also worked on the Motherland Monument in Ukraine).
The inspiration for the Motherland Calls statue reportedly came from the models of earlier works. Among them is the Arc de Triomphe’s “La Marseillaise” sculpture.
The second inspirational work was the Winged Victory of Samothrace or the Nike of Samothrace. The same statue is known to have inspired another Soviet monument, the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman.
The Motherland Calls has also been interpreted as a contemporary representation of the Greek deity Nike or the Roman goddess Victoria.
Building and Dedication
In total, the construction of the Motherland Calls statue took 15 years, the first 8 of which were spent on planning and laying the groundwork. The construction started in May of 1959 in Stalingrad (now Volgograd). The statue was opened to the public on October 15, 1967.
Tens of thousands of Soviet residents, including the Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, Defense Minister Andrei Grechko, and Soviet Marshals Andrey Yeryomenko and Vasily Chuikov, showed up for the monument’s opening event.
To that point in history, the Motherland Calls statue had stood as the world’s tallest monument. It also used to be the tallest non-religious monument in the world for 51 years. That title went to the Statue of Unity in India in 2018.
Despite the existence of taller statues, the Motherland Calls is the tallest female figure in the world. Spotlights shine on the monument to highlight it at night. The statue was lit in a unique light display called “The Light of the Great Victory” on May 8, 2017, to commemorate the Great Patriotic War’s 72nd milestone of success over Nazi Germany.
The Architecture of the Motherland Calls Statue
The Motherland Calls statue’s arms are in an extremely complicated position from a technical perspective, with the right hand holding a sword and the left hand extending in a motion of summoning. The hollow monument was constructed using the same mix of prestressed concrete and steel wires that were used in Nikitin’s other famous Moscow landmark, the Ostankino Tower.
Because of the sculpture’s hollowness, the use of concrete and steel wires is crucial. The interior of the figure is divided into numerous compartments. The sculpture’s concrete walls are between 10 and 12 inches (25 and 30 cm) thick and are held together with steel wires.
When all the structures in the vicinity are included, the Motherland Calls statue’s footprint expands to an impressive 64 acres (26 ha). “Memory of Generations” is engraved on a pedestal that stands at the primary entryway of the statue.
The stone pedestal features figures of different eras paying tribute to the Red Army soldiers who have died. Behind it are stone pedestals inscribed with the titles of each hero-city.
Eleven figures are depicted in relief at the foot to symbolize the fatalities at the Mamayev Kurgan. Further on, you can see the shells of Nazi-bombed structures. Nearby, in an area named Heroes’ Square, are six miniature outposts, each symbolizing a different faction in the conflict.
There were 5,500 tons of concrete and 2,400 tons of metal used in the building, with the exception of the statue’s base. The weight of the sword held by the Motherland Calls is actually 14 tons (28,000 lbs).
The monument stands at a whopping 279 feet (85 m) in height. The female figure’s height is 170 feet (52 m) without the sword, and her sword measures 108 feet (33 m). The depth of the statue is 52.5 feet (16 m). The base itself occupies another 6.5 feet (2 m).
The memorial is significantly heavy at 8,000 tons (8,800 US tons). To honor the 200 days of fighting at Stalingrad, the statue’s foundation is reached via 200 stairs. A memorial to the Red Army’s armed forces stands at the base of this flight of stairs.
Restoration and Perils Posed by Nature
In the Motherland Calls statue, stainless steel was used in the initial construction of the sword, which was then adorned with titanium. Since the sword is so huge and heavy, it is frequently blown around by the wind, which causes gradual deformations in the area where the figure’s hand grips it.
The titanium plates on the sword are also shifting due to design flaws, making resounding metallic noises. Therefore, in 1972, a new sword made completely of steel was installed, and holes were drilled in the top portion of the sword to improve its wind permeability. The sword has a red light on its tip to warn aircraft.
The concrete structures of the statue were fortified in 1986. According to news reports from 2009, the Motherland Calls statue’s foundation had shifted due to fluctuating groundwater levels. The monument is supported only by its own weight and is not affixed to its foundations.
According to a source who requested anonymity, the monument had already shifted 7.9 inches (20 cm) and could not have moved any further without toppling. In 2008–2009, workers devised a plan to restore the Motherland Calls statue, and in 2010, they got to work.
In 2017, a two-billion-ruble ($35 million) repair project started that would take a full year and a half to complete. Repairs were made to over 64,500 square feet (6,000 sq. m.) of cracked concrete.
The Symbolism Behind the Motherland Calls Statue
One of the fiercest and deadliest fights of the Battle of Stalingrad took place on the Mamayev Kurgan slope, where the monument stands today. The memorial commemorates the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers at the pivotal Battle of Stalingrad in World War II.
There are approximately 35,000 fighters interred on the slope, according to the available data. The renowned Soviet sharpshooter Vasily Zaitsev, who killed 225 troops and commanders of the German army and their supporters in the fight, is interred in a graveyard nearby the memorial.
Motherland is part of the triptych of statues bearing the sword of war, along with the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin and the Rear-Front Memorial in Magnitogorsk.
The Motherland Calls statue stamps, coinage, and awards were all manufactured in the former Soviet states and modern-day Russia. The statue is depicted on the Volgograd Oblast’s coat of arms and banner.
The monument is widely recognized as a representation of Russia. The hill on which the monument stands was voted as one of Russia’s Seven Wonders in a 2008 competition, coming in at number three.
The Chinese land of Manchuria is home to a tiny version of the monument.
More than three million visitors a year come to see the Motherland Calls statue. Since January 31, 2008, the monument and its location have been part of a government district and they have been shielded by government regulation. The monument and its compound have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Critics Toward the Motherland Calls Statue
The Motherland Calls statue has also received a number of critical reviews. A reviewer for the field of architecture, Jonathan Meades, referred to the monument as a “kitsch sample” and said it was a poor imitation of a preexisting blueprint of style. Russian artist Vladimir Tserkovnikov warned of the statue’s imminent collapse in an open letter to Russia’s then-Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medina, in 2013. He blamed this on the fact that Nikitin made numerous errors while constructing the monument.