Victory Square and monument

  Pl. Pobedy 1     more than a year ago
Some Kaliningraders will tell you that for a time it felt that Moscow had rather forgotten Kaliningrad and that only changed at the start of the 21st century. For whatever reason, Kaliningrad began to attract more attention and investment from then onwards and Victory Square is a very good example of the change. Prior to that the square was rather shabby with a statue of Lenin stood in front of a small wooden church. The square has been extensively modernised with fountains added; a statue of Lenin moved; the church replaced with the Christ the Saviour cathedral and a victory column raised in the middle of the square.

The victory column is of particular interest. Raised in June 2005 with the help of private money it was supposed to commemorate four important victories of the Russian military – the Seven Year’s War of 1756-1763; the victory over Napoleon in 1813; the First World War (or First Great Patriotic War) in 1914 and finally the taking of Königsberg in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. The column is designed to represent a symbol of peace, its message being that all four sides of the column base are covered with tributes to a past war, leaving no room for any more tributes so therefore no more war.

Inspired by local historian Sergei Trifinov and made by sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov, a copy of the Order of Victory sits atop the column. The Order of Victory was the highest military honour awarded by the Soviet Union for military service in World War II. Currently on the base there is a single relief commemorating the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), the term used by Russia to describe World War II. Whether this means that the plans to create a victory column which commemorates four historic campaigns as was originally planned have been shelved is unclear but for the moment the victory column commemorates victory over Nazi Germany.

The square itself has an interesting history. One of the two original gates from the Inner Ring that no longer exist, Steindammer Tor, stood here on what is now Victory Square. It was dismantled in 1912 to open up access to the city on what had become the busiest thoroughfare and the road that led out to the Hufen districts to the west was originally named Kaiser Wilhelm Damm. This was changed to Hansaring with the fall of the German monarchy at the end of WWI and the square became Hansaplatz, a name that lasted until the Königsbergers started doing what all Germans were doing at the time and renamed it Adolf-Hitler-Platz in 1934.

A lot of this area survived the war and the city built up around here in the following decades. Kaliningrad City Hall, on the south side of the square occupies the Stadthaus built in 1923 to serve the Königsberg city authorities while the former Nordbahnhof railway station building can be seen on the north of the square is now the Kaliningrad Business Centre. Just around to the left as you look at the Kaliningrad Business Centre you’ll see the former home of the German police, a building which now houses the Russian FSB services.


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