Sunday, May 30, 2010

The 411 Battery

The 411th Shore Battery formed part of the third and last line of defence for the city of Odessa. When it was attacked on the 8th of August 1941, thirty-four thousand soldiers of the Red Army and the Black Sea Fleet faced a combined force of Germans and Romanians. It would cost them four attempts, ninety-two thousand dead and wounded, and seventy-three days to eventually take the city. For this and the actions of the partisans who retreated underground and fought until liberation, Odessa was named as one of Stalin's original four Hero Cities on May 1st 1945.

Motorised scooters, adventure slides, Hello Kitty balloons and a T34 tank being used as a children's climbing frame: it seemed to be more of a theme park than a memorial site. There was a full-size submarine parked on concrete supports, picnickers sitting by trenches, children playing hide and seek behind artillery pieces, carrying toy rifles, or running around gun emplacements buried in the forest. A crowd had gathered round a dance performance, an Orthodox priest was smoking outside a wooden church, children were drawing pictures in chalk on the ground, and stray dogs lounged around the entrance to the museum.

Fun for everyone.

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