The Motherland Calls

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The Motherland Calls
Soviet Union / Commonwealth of Independent States
Mamaev kurgan (ОКН).JPG
Mamayev Kurgan with the statue
For heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad
Unveiled 15 October 1967
Location 48°44′32.5″N 44°32′13″E / 48.742361°N 44.53694°E / 48.742361; 44.53694
near Mamayev Kurgan, Volgograd
Designed by Yevgeny Vuchetich, Nikolai Nikitin

The Motherland Calls (Russian: Родина-мать зовёт!, tr. Rodina-mat' zovyot!, literally Homeland-Mother Is Calling) is a statue in Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd, Russia, commemorating the Battle of Stalingrad. It was designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and structural engineer Nikolai Nikitin, and declared the largest statue in the world in 1967. Today, it is the second tallest statue of a woman in the world.

The Motherland Calls is highly complex from an engineering point of view, due to its characteristic posture with a sword raised high in the right hand and the left hand extended in a calling gesture. The technology behind the hollow statue is based on a combination of prestressed concrete with wire ropes structure, a solution which can be found also in another work of Nikitin's, the super-tall Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

The monument was inspired by the Ancient Greek sculpture the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and was modelled on a local woman, Valentina Izotova.[1]

Construction and dedication[edit]

The memorial photographed in 2015.

When the memorial was dedicated in 1967 it was the tallest sculpture in the world, measuring 85 metres (279 ft) from the tip of its sword to the top of the plinth. The figure itself measures 52 metres (171 ft), and the sword 33 metres (108 ft). Two hundred steps, symbolizing the 200 days of the Battle of Stalingrad, lead from the bottom of the hill to the monument. The lead sculptor was Yevgeny Vuchetich, and Nikolai Nikitin handled the significant structural engineering challenges of the 7,900 tonnes (7,800 long tons; 8,700 short tons) concrete sculpture.[2] The statue appears on both the current flag and coat of arms of Volgograd Oblast.

Marshal of the Soviet Union Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov is buried in the area of the monument, as is famous Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev, who killed 225 Axis soldiers in the battle of Stalingrad.

Structural problems[edit]

In 2009, reports said the statue was leaning due to changes in groundwater level causing movement of the foundations. The statue is not fixed to its foundations and is held in place only by its weight. An anonymous official claimed that it had shifted 20 centimetres and was not expected to move much farther without collapsing.[2] A program of monument restoration was developed in 2008–2009, and comprehensive conservation and restoration work started in 2010.[3]


Architectural critic Jonathan Meades has called the statue kitsch, and says that it represents a mindset "that glorifies itself and glorifies war, whilst pretending to glorify the dead – which treats ghosts and bones better than human beings ... it's a monument to monumentalism, it's not a conduit to remembrance. If, however, we ignore its purpose, what it's meant to be for, it is certainly one of the world's most spectacular freaks. A petrified, possibly transexual, inflatable warrior-doll..."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pearman, Hugh (5 November 2014). "The Power of Remembrance". RIBA Journal. 
  2. ^ a b Galpin, Richard (8 May 2009). "Russia's massive leaning statue". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  3. ^ "Родина-Мать ушла на «больничный" [Motherland" goes on "sick leave"] (in Russian). 15 October 2010. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  4. ^ Meades, Jonathan (2006). Joe Building, BBC Four

Further reading[edit]

Approximate heights of various notable statues:
1. Spring Temple Buddha 153 m (incl. 25 m pedestal and 20 m throne)
2. Statue of Liberty 93 m (incl. 47 m pedestal)
3. The Motherland Calls 91 m (excl. pedestal)
4. Christ the Redeemer 38 m (incl. 8 m pedestal)
5. Statue of David 5.17 m (excl. 2.5 m pedestal)

Scott W. Palmer, "How Memory was Made: The Construction of the Memorial to the Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad", The Russian Review 68:3 (July 2009), 373-407.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tokyo Wan Kannon
56 m (183.7 ft)
World's tallest statue
1967 –1989
Succeeded by
Dai Kannon of Kita no Miyako park
88 m (289 ft)

Coordinates: 48°44′32.5″N 44°32′13″E / 48.742361°N 44.53694°E / 48.742361; 44.53694