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... Monument to the soldiers of Podolsky Regiment ...

Photo by Vlad AdjemHere, near Bendery ferry,

You can’t count battles of the military,

Two-headed eagle saves

Russia’s military base.

Bowing low to the fallen, eagle

Measured the time ever

He flew over the needle

To stay there forever.

L. A. Litvinenko






Pic. 9. “Monument to the soldiers of Podolsk who fell in the Patriotic War, erected in Bendery by the descendants of Podolsk.” 1912 [4, p. 97]“Monument to the 55th Podolsk Infantry Regiment”, “Monument to valiant Russian Warriors”, “Monument to valiant ancestors from descendants”, “Monument to the Podolsk regiment”, “Monument of Russian glory” – this is Bendery monument “Oryol” (“Eagle”)! That’s just how the Bendery residents call this monument among themselves. It is the oldest in the town, it was laid in the Bendery Fortress on June 10 (23), 1912 in memory of the soldiers of the 55th Podolsk Infantry Regiment stationed in Bendery who fell in the Patriotic War of 1812.

On the centenary of the Battle of Borodino, August 26 (September 8), when the whole of Russia celebrated the centenary of the Patriotic War, the monument was inaugurated (see annex 1-3). It was installed on a low hill in the center of the square (N 46.83630°, E 29.48672°) about 25 fathoms north of the Alexander Nevsky Church. But the exact original location of the monument was forgotten for many years, and only in 2017 it was possible to establish it with the help of a German airphoto of 1944, compared with a modern satellite.

The monument was built according to the project of an unknown author at the expense of soldiers and officers of the regiment. It was an obelisk of black labradoritite, mounted on a quadrangular three-stage base and crowned with a bronze eagle that raised its wings. A staircase of ten steps got narrow upwards led to the base of the monument (Pic. 9). The following words were carved on the sides of the obelisk: on the front– “TO VALIANT ANCESTORS FROM DESCENDANTS” and below “FROM THE 55th PODOLSK INFANTRY REGIMENT, 1912”, on the back side – “THE PARTICIPATION OF THE PODOLSK REGIMENT IN THE BATTLES OF 1812 ON THE USHACHA RIVER ON OCTOBER 8, AT THE VILLAGE OF CHASHNIKI ON OCTOBER 19, AT THE VILLAGES OF STANISHCHE, KHRABRAYA AND SMOLYANTSY ON NOVEMBER 2”.

Perhaps a typical tombstone model was used as the basis for the monument. At least one such obelisk has been preserved in the old town cemetery of Bendery. Apparently, it was made in the 1910s, and after 1955 it was reused at a new burial. This is evidenced by one of the edges of the tombstone monument, where the former inscription was cut off, and an epitaph took its place. But even if such a model did not become a prototype for the monument to Podolsky regiment, it is quite reasonable to assume that both obelisks were made in the same granite workshop.

In general, the idea of the monument resembled several monuments built at different times in the Russian Empire: for example, to the soldiers of the 77th  Tenginsky Infantry Regiment, to Staff Captain N. Liko and to Private A. Osipov in Vladikavkaz (1881), to soldiers of the 148th Infantry Caspian Regiment who fell in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, in Peterhof (1911) or to soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Sofia regiment who fell in the Patriotic War of 1812, in Smolensk (1912). But most of all, it resembled the monument to Field Marshal M. I. Kutuzov (Pic. 10), erected on the Borodino field also in the anniversary year.

Pic. 10. Monument to M. I. Kutuzov in Gorki village in May 2019, Architect P. A. Vorontsov-Velyaminov (photo by the author)

 Pic. 11. Monument to the Volyn Infantry regiment in the village of Semenovskoye in May 2019, Architect A. P. Vereshchagin (photo by the author)

Based on the fact that the glory monument of the 55th Podolsk Infantry regiment has been preserved and is well known to us, as well as its picture (Pic. 9), taken in the year of opening, there are some questions about the description given in the Bessarabian newspapers of that time: “The monument is a granite rock, on top of which a golden, double-headed eagle soars” (“Bessarabian Telegraph”) [19] and “The monument to Podolsky regiment is a block on top of which there is an eagle with outspread wings” (“Bessarabian life”) [16]. What is it: a kind of interpretation of what they saw, or did the correspondents not see the monument at all? And weren’t both correspondents the same person? It is difficult to answer these questions now. It can only be noted that the monument erected in 1912 on the Borodino field in honor of the valiant ancestors by the 53rd  Volyn Infantry Regiment (Pic. 11), which was part of the same division as the 55th Podolsk Regiment, is more suitable for such a description.

With the occupation of Bessarabia by Romania in 1918, new owners came to Bendery. At the same time, the 55th Podolsk Infantry Regiment finished its journey. But, no matter how strange it may seem, despite such changes, the monument of Russian military glory survived. The secret of tolerance of the new authorities turned out to be simple – the eagle crowning the obelisk was not only a symbol of military valor, honor and glory, but also a symbol of the Romanian state. Moreover, similar monuments in honor of the heroes of the First World War then began to appear in the kingdom itself. Therefore, they did not demolish the monument, but simply adapted it for their own purposes.

On January 24 (February 6), 1919, on the day of the first anniversary of the declaration of independence of the MoldavianPic. 12. An eagle looking to the east. A shot from the documentary “Victory in the South”. USSR, 1944 Democratic Republic, it was reopened, but now not in memory of the valiant ancestors, but in honor of the annexation of Bessarabia to Romania. Previously facing the main road of the fortress, the eagle was turned 180 degrees - towards the Dniester River, along which the border with Soviet Russia passed (Fig. 12), and the old inscriptions were covered with white marble boards. One of them had the following inscription: «27 MARTIE 1918. ÎNTOARCEREA BASARABIEI LA PATRIA MUMĂ» (“March 27 [4] 1918 The return of Bessarabia to the Motherland”). These changes are noticeable in a photograph published in Romania in the form of a postcard “Monumentul şi biserica din cetatea Tighina” (“Monument and church in the Bendery Fortress”) no later than 1925.

In this form, the monument existed until the establishment of Soviet power in the town in 1940, when, probably, the Romanian boards were dismantled. The eagle continued to look to the east at least until August 1944. This is evidenced by the movie “Victory in the South” (directed by L. V. Varlamov), shot after the liberation of the city by the operators of the Central Studio of Documentary Films (Pic. 12). However, by 1949 it had already returned to its original position. But the cement-sealed traces of all the transformations are easy to notice on the monument today. Also, traces of bullets of the Great Patriotic War are still clearly visible on the obelisk. Their appearance could be connected with an explosion that occurred in the area of the Bendery fortress on August 3, 1944, or with its shelling by Soviet artillery. In the first half of the 1960s, the glory monument of the 55th Podolsk Infantry Regiment was taken outside the fortress and installed facing its ramparts on Engels Street (now Panin Street; N 46.83323°, E 29.48557°), where the Eagle is located to this day. At the place of the former location of the monument, just 2-3 meters to the east, a military box made of precast reinforced concrete subsequently appeared. In 2018, it was demolished, some of the structural elements were used as the basis for the exhibition hall that was in process of construction (opened on October 7 of the same year).

Pic. 13. “Monument to the 55th Podolsk Infantry Regiment”. 1983 (V. V. Kucherenko’s collection)Although the new version of the monument was significantly similar to the previous one, it had several differences. They are not difficult to find when comparing photographs of 1912 and 1960. So, the changes are visible in the staircase leading to the base of the monument: it has grown two steps, which may indicate an increase in the height of the hill; the shape and curvature of its sidewall have changed, decorative flower pots have appeared at their bases.

According to the photos, it can also be seen that by the end of the 1970s, due to the soil settlement on the hill, another step appeared at the base of the obelisk (Pic. 13). In the late 1980s, the glory monument to the Podolsky regiment was repaired. The stairs were decorated with granite, combining the two lower ones into one, and the base of the monument was tiled, partially covering the lower part of the obelisk with it. The ground level on the hill was not raised at the same time. At the same time, apparently, the flower pots were removed. Over the years, the eagle itself, consisting of five parts, has changed – its wings have sagged down (the left one is of particular concern), and the platform on which it is installed has received significant shatters in stone.

At the fervor of the Moldovian-Pridnestrovian armed conflict in the summer of 1992, the monument was once again threatened with destruction. On the night of June 22-23, a bloody drama played out next to it: as a result of heavy fire opened on a column of Pridnestrovian guards retreating passing the Bendery fortress, according to the News Agency “News of Pridnestrovie”, 48 people were killed and 120 were injured, of which 25 subsequently died. But the bullet-riddled Eagle, as before, continued to stand in its place.

On the initiative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the PMR, on August 12, 2006, the remains of the commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 14th Infantry Division, Lieutenant General P. P. Dubelt (1827-1904), Commandant of the Bendery Fortress, Major General A. I. Vedemeyer (1768-1831) and commander of the Don Cossack battery, military Sergeant M. F. Khoperskov (?-1891), were reburied next to the monument, on its western side. Before that, they rested in the old Russian military (now – Military Historical Memorial) cemetery. Two months later, on October 8, tombstones were opened on the graves.

On August 29, 2018, a tourist sign with a QR code was installed for the first time in the city at the monument of glory of the 55th Podolsk Infantry Regiment, according to which now any smartphone user could get brief information about the monument in Russian and English. However, during the preparation of this article, in February 2019, the requested page was unavailable.

Back on July 3, 1945, in accordance with the instructions of the Department for Architecture Affairs under the Council of People’s Commissars of the MSSR, the Bendery Fortress was taken under protection by the executive committee of the Bendery City Council as an architectural and historical monument of the Moldavian SSR. From that time, “any kind of reconstruction, demolition, completion and other kinds of work that could entail a change in the shape and design of these monuments, as well as its destruction,” were prohibited in the fortress.Pic. 14. Monument of Russian glory in September 2008 (photo by N. V. Fedorenko)

On November 4 of the same year the Executive Committee of Bendery adopted a similar decision, guided by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 1100 of August 20, 1949. According to it, not only the fortress was now subject to state protection, but also, as a separate unit, the “Obelisk Monument to the 55th Podolsk Regiment”, as well as the monument erected on the mass graves of Soviet soldiers in the Caucasus suburb. However, as we know, this did not help any of them in the future.

On June 18, 2002, the Monument to the 55th Podolsk Regiment was entered into the State Register of Monuments of Republican and Local Significance of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic under number 52 as a monument of history and monumental art of republican significance. The following year, on December 11, the Bendery Council of People’s Deputies included the “Monument of Russian Glory (Eagle)” in the List of local symbols and objects that are local symbols, following the Bendery Fortress and the Transfiguration Cathedral.

I think I will not be mistaken if I assume that the majority of citizens found out about the existence of the monument to the soldiers of Podolsky Regiment in Bendery only after it was moved to Engels Street. After all, during the Soviet period, the entrance to the fortress, which was still a military facility, was closed to civilians. Now the monument has become accessible to everyone. In 1964, his picture (photographer A. Molodchenko) was published for the first time after a long break in the newspapers “Leninskoe Znamya” and “Kultura Moldovei”, and two years later a mosaic panel “Old Bendery” (artists: M. A. Burya, V. A. Obukh) with the image of the monument decorated the waiting room of the newly built building of the Bendery bus station. Since then, the “Eagle”, one of the oldest monuments of Moldova, began to meet and accompany the honorary guests of the town, images of the monument began to appear in guidebooks, minted on commemorative medals and badges. “Eagle” became the emblem of the mineral natural water “Varnitsa” produced and bottled since 1964 by the Bendery Brewery.

The monument did not lose popularity even after the collapse of the Soviet Union (Pic. 14). In 1998, 1999, 2008, 2012 and 2017, seven postage stamps with its image were issued in Pridnestrovie, and since 2000 the monument can be seen on banknotes of 25 Pridnestrovian rubles. Also, in different years, the image of the monument decorated the front page of the city newspapers Pobeda (1990-1991) and Novoye Vremya (since 2016). In 2007, on the initiative of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the PMR V. N. Krasnoselsky and under the auspices of the Vice-President of the PMR A. I. Korolev, the holiday of the 55th Infantry Podolsk Regiment was revived in Bendery, celebrated annually from now on on August 29, on the day of The Icon of Christ of Edessa (with the exception of 2013-2016 - the period of the presidentship of E. V. Shevchuk).

Today, among the numerous sights of the town, the monument to the soldiers of Podolsky Regiment occupies a special place. It is the only monument installed in Bender before the 1917 revolution, managed not only to survive all the troubles of the XX century, but also to become one of the main symbols of the town. Despite this, the condition of the “Eagle” leaves a great deal to be desired. Currently, it requires a comprehensive scientific restoration. But the experience of recent years shows that any “restoration” of monuments carried out in Pridnestrovie is even more dangerous for them than the time.

[1] Information about the dedication of the monument to the 100th anniversary of the annexation of Bessarabia to Russia [13, p. 54; 27, p. 168] appeared only in Soviet times and do not correspond to reality. Both anniversaries were only celebrated in one year.

[2] The Battle of Borodino between the French and Russian armies took place on August 26 (September 7), 1812 [18, p. 218; 26], but the day of its 100th anniversary falls not on the 7th, but on the 8th of September according to the new style.

[3] It also occurs, mistakenly, on August 25 (September 7) [9].

[4] April 9 according to the new style is the date of the annexation of Bessarabia by Romania.

[5] No later than October 1964 (it is known from the Tiraspol newspaper “Lenin Znamya” that at that time a Bulgarian delegation of cooperators got acquainted with the monument, which was already located on the Chisinau–Tiraspol highway) [10; 17]. Most sources mistakenly indicate 1967 [9; 14; 29, p. 33; 32, p. 566] or, less frequently, 1966 [27, p. 168].

[6] It also occurs, mistakenly, on August 15 [9].

[7] In the Collection of Legislative Acts of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic – July 31 [1].

[8] In 2007, the holiday was celebrated according to the old style - on August 16 [28].

Tikhonov A.G. – Master’s Degree Student of the Chair of History of the State University named after T. G. Shevchenko.

 

APPENDIX:

Appendix 1 [4, p. 104]

Intelligence officer’s correspondence

Let the descendants know...      A. Pushkin

Bendery. – On the centennial anniversary of the Great Patriotic War, on the day of the glorious battle of Borodino on August 26, the 55th Infantry Podolsk Regiment celebrated a triple holiday: the glorious anniversary of the Patriotic War, and the regimental holiday that was not celebrated, thanks to maneuvers, and the opening of a monument to the soldiers of Podolsk who fell in the difficult year of the Patriotic War.

The monument erected is as follows: on the site, opposite the officers’ assembly, among the greenery of trees, a round hill rises, a pedestal is arranged on it, on which an obelisk of dark gray granite is erected, and on top of the obelisk, a bronze eagle soars proudly spreading and lifting its wings. There are the following inscriptions: on the front side, at the top: “To valiant ancestors from descendants”, below: “From the 55th Infantry Podolsk regiment”, and on the back side is a list of battles in which the regiment participated in 1812. The slopes of the hill and the whole area are decorated with lawns.

The monument was laid on June 10; and on August 24, all works on the construction and arrangement of the square were completed.

By the morning of August 26, the whole fortress had taken on a festive look. The site at the monument, barracks, individual houses, officers’ meeting, etc., everything was decorated with national flags, and in places with banners. On the fortress boulevard, near the officers' meeting, a huge tent was pitched for the upcoming ceremonial dinner, two tents made of signal sea flags stood nearby, which were supposed to serve as kiosks for soft drinks during the ball in the evening.

On August 26, at 10 o’clock in the morning, a solemn church service began in the fortress church. By this time, the regiment was lined up at the monument in peace column, and the banners (the whole number is 31), and the rest of the regalia were brought into the church.

At about 11:30 o’clock, at the foot of the monument covered with a white veil, the divine service began.

During the Royal prayer service, at the proclamation of the Emperor’s perennity, the veils from the monument fell, revealing the obelisk and the eagle crowning it, with wings proudly raised up. This was followed by a memorial service for the dead soldiers and a second prayer service on the occasion of the consecration of the monument, after which the regiment passed a ceremonial march.

When the banners were carried, the regiment went to the barracks, where the lower ranks were waiting for a rich lunch, and the invited and officers of the regiment went to lunch to the regiment meeting.

In the evening, a ball was held in the officers’ assembly hall.

The next day, on August 27, from 5 o’clock in the afternoon, various games of the lower ranks for prizes were held on the vast Petrovskaya Square.

When it got dark, stage pictures in the air were staged on the square by the lower ranks under the leadership of officers, the plot for which was episodes from the Patriotic War. Then a magnificent, varied fireworks display was immediately burned.

V. Zh.

“The intelligence officer”, February

12 (25), 1913

 

Appendix 2 [19]

CELEBRATION OF THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE PATRIOTIC WAR IN BENDERY

Church celebrations on the occasion of the anniversary of the Patriotic War in Bendery began on Saturday [August 25 (September 7) - A. T.].

On Saturday morning, a requiem liturgy was celebrated for Emperor Alexander I and those who fell in the war of 1812. The Liturgy was celebrated by Vasile Vardropu.

The celebration of the centenary of the Patriotic War in Bendery began yesterday [August 26 (September 8) - A. T.] in the early morning. Despite the cloudy weather, the Cathedral square is crowded with people.

By 8 o’clock, students of secondary and lower educational institutions with teaching staff at their head began to arrive at Cathedral Square.

At 9 a.m. Vasily Vardzopu, read an essay about the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War in front of a crowded church of worshippers.

Then a solemn service was served for the deliverance of Russia from the invasion of the French.

The solemn service was attended by: Bendery district police officer V. N. Khloboshchin, town head P. N. Heydenreich, who held the position of county leader of the nobility D. D. Pisarzhevsky, Chairman of the Zemstvo Board K. A. Mimi, County Member of the Chisinau District Court A.V. Bryukhanov and other representatives of various institutions.

At 10:30 in the morning, the procession from the cathedral headed along the Cathedral [now – Soviet] street to the fortress.

When Alexander Orlov arrived at the fortress, a prayer service was served and eternal memory was sung to Emperor Alexander I and all the fallen soldiers of 1812. After the prayer service, the solemn opening and consecration of the monument to the fallen soldiers of 1812 took place. The monument was a granite rock, on top of which a golden, double-headed eagle soared. Wreaths were laid on the monument: from non-classical secondary school, the women’s gymnasium, the 55th Infantry Podolsk regiment, convoy team, town council, county nobility, Bendery zemstvo, Bendery Engineer commission. After the consecration of the monument, the Brigade Commander Russiyano addressed the students with a warm, heartfelt word. Explaining the significance of 1812 for Russia, he expressed the firm hope that modern youth will develop the same qualities that saved Russia in 1812.

In the morning there was a festive atmosphere in the city. All the shops were closed all day. The city was decorated with flags during the day, and illuminated in the evening.

During the celebrations, the orchestra of music of the 55th Infantry Podolsk regiment played.

“Bessarabian Telegraph”,

August 27 (September 9), 1912

 

 

Appendix 3 [16]

OUR REGION

From our correspondents

BENDERY

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War on August 26 was mainly concentrated in the fortress, where the opening and consecration of the monument to the soldiers of the 53rd Infantry Podolsk regiment [55th is correct], now located in our city, was timed to coincide with the anniversary.

In the fortress, at 12 o’clock in the afternoon, the clergy, town and military leaderships, commanders of military units, deputations from the city, zemstvo, educational institutions, regiments and military units located in Bendery, and invited persons gathered at the location of the monument.

The monument to Podolsky Regiment looked like a block on top of which there is an eagle with outstretched wings.

At the foot of the monument there are flag bearers with all the banners of the Podolsk regiment and sentries in historical uniforms. The following people were standing around the monument: The Podolsk regiment in full strength, parts of the troops of the local garrison and students. At the end of the service, the troops were paraded and the Highest Order for the army and Navy was read on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War.

The celebration ended with a national anthem, accompanied by shouts of “Cheers!” and a ceremonial march of troops. Wreaths from the town, the zemstvo, the women’s gymnasium, non-classical secondary school, etc. were laid on the monument.

On the same day, in one of the local synagogues (new), with a large amount of people, a memorial service was made for Emperor Alexander I and the soldiers who fell in the Patriotic War, after which a prayer service was held for the health of the Sovereign Emperor and the entire Royal House. Crown rabbi Derbaremdiker pronounced the appropriate word for the occasion. Then, on the initiative of Duma’s councilor Ya. Imass it was sent through the Governor of Bessarabia to the Sovereign Emperor expressing the loyal feelings of the Bendery Jewish community.

“Bessarabian Life”,

August 29 (September 11), 1912

 

With the permission of the author, below the site administration bendery-fortress.com presents an archive of photos and drawings of the scientific department of the HMMC Bendery Fortress SUE related to the object under study. 

Postcard “Monumentul şi biserica din cetatea Tighina” (“Monument and church in the Bendery Fortress”). It was made no later than 1925. The outline of the monument is visible on the left.The postcard was posted on one of the auction sites www.declampe.net 

The same postcard with the outline of the monument and the monument is indicated with red colour

Soviet soldiers at the glory monument of the 55th Infantry Podolsk regiment. The 1950s.Unfortunately, the background is not visible

 

Glory monument of the 55th Infantry Podolsk regiment. Сharcoal drawing on cardboard. 1958. Pridnestrovian State Art Museum (Bendery).

 

Aerial view of the Bendery Fortress, taken on March 29, 1944. The location of the monument is indicated with the red colour.

 

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