Now and then - Millennium of Russia in Novgorod

novgorod siege of leningrad ussr war wwii russia monument

Novgorod Kremlin, January 1944 / Novgorod Kremlin, May 2021

Soviet soldiers standing in front of the dismantled and scattered statues of the Millennium of Russia monument.



Facing the impending Soviet offensive and planning for a general retreat, General Kurt Herzog, commander of XXXVIII Army Corps, ordered to dismantle the monument and ship it to Germany in late 1943. It was meant to be a gift for the Burgermeister of Insterburg, a town in East Prussia (now Chernyakhovsk). Luckily, the Germans had little time left and by the time the Red Army liberated the city on January 20, 1944, only its ornate fence and lampposts were shipped away. The rest of the sculptural elements were left lying in disarray, many of the statues missing swords, shields, scepters and other minor parts. More than 1500 missing parts had to be made anew.

The monument was restored in general detail in an astonishingly short time by November 1944, and in 1954 it underwent full restoration and repair.

General Kurt Herzog surrendered to the Red Army in May 1945. He was tried by the Soviet War Crimes Tribunal in Novgorod in 1947 and found guilty of issuing orders that led to the murder 34 000 Soviet citizens in the course of anti-partisan actions, sending about 150000 Soviet citizens to forced labour in Germany, razing 130 towns and villages as part of scorched earth policy and destroying several ancient churches in Novgorod. Herzog perished in a POW camp in Vorkuta in 1948.

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