Sun, 11 Apr 2021

Before Lenin: The Monuments Of Tsarist Russia

RFE
25 Feb 2021, 04:46 GMT+10

Historical photos show the royal Russian statues that were consigned to the 'dustbin of history' after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

This towering monument to Tsar Alexander II was situated in the southeastern corner of Moscow's Kremlin.

A statue in honor of Tsar Alexander II in Moscow.

Alexander II was best known for the emancipation of serfs in 1861. He was killed by a bomb-lobbing radical leftist in 1881.

A side view of the Kremlin monument, which opened to mixed reviews in 1898.

Work on demolishing the tsar's memorial began in 1918 with Russia's new revolutionary socialist leader, Vladimir Lenin, reportedly calling for a statue of writer Leo Tolstoy to be erected in its place.

This 1889 monument to Alexander II was erected in the center of Samara

A statue of Alexander II in Samara in the late-1800s.

Figures around the base of the Samara statue marked the emancipation of the serfs and several other events from Alexander's reign.

A rear view of the Samara memorial.

After the Bolshevik Revolution, the bronze tsar was toppled and the decorative elements were stripped from the plinth. A statue to Lenin now stands in place of the tsar atop the same column. The fate of the tsar's statue is unknown.

A monument to Tsar Alexander III once stood near the eastern end of St. Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect, where a World War II memorial column now stands.

A statue of Tsar Alexander III in St. Petersburg, which was Russia's capital until the Bolshevik government decamped to Moscow in 1918.

The squat equestrian memorial was widely mocked during its brief tenure looming at the end of the Russian capital's main road. One St. Petersburg local dubbed it the "hippopotamus.'

The St. Petersburg monument at its unveiling

The statue was initially covered after the Bolshevik Revolution, but it later made an appearance inside a giant cage during an anniversary rally marking the communist takeover of Russia. Today the memorial stands in a discreet location outside St. Petersburg's Marble Palace.

This monument to Tsar Alexander III in front of Moscow's original Cathedral of Christ the Savior was first presented to the public in 1912 .

The unveiling of Moscow's monument to Tsar Alexander III in 1912.

The bronze memorial was beheaded and then dismantled in 1918. The cathedral in the background was also later destroyed by the atheist Soviet authorities, but was rebuilt in the 1990s.

A view of the Moscow memorial looking out over the Moskva River.

An observer who watched the monument's destruction later wrote '...it was pointless to demolish it. The history of Russia cannot be erased like this, and the enthusiasm for today [under Lenin's communist revolutionaries] cannot be raised.'

A cast-iron statue in honor of Tsar Alexander II was also unveiled in the western Siberian city of Yekaterinburg in 1906.

A monument to Tsar Alexander II in Yekaterinburg

Remarkable photographs held in a local museum show that a Statue of Liberty was erected on the plinth shortly after the tsarist monument was torn down in early 1917.

A frontal view of the Yekaterinburg monument

After Lenin's Bolsheviks took power in Russia, a Karl Marx bust was plonked onto the pedestal. That was soon replaced by a naked "liberated worker," which was then replaced with a monument to Stalin. Today a large monument to Lenin stands in the square.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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