In the shadow of Perestroika

The hall is dark and has to be lighted with a torch. Now Lenin appears on the back wall in a resolute forward march. Behind him are symbolic buildings and infrastructure of the Soviet Union as well as a waving red flag with a Roman XXVII. Apparently, the mural was created on the occasion of the 27th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), which took place in Moscow from 25th February to 6th March 1986. There, the General Secretary of the Central Committee, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced the political reforms of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) with which he wanted to modernise the Soviet Union. This process failed and only five years after the announcement of the plans, the USSR disintegrated.

The work, made by members of the Soviet Army, is located in the cinema hall of the former military complex in Kummersdorf. The site was built around 1875 and was later also used by the Wehrmacht. After World War II and until the early 1990s, the Soviet forces were stationed here. A number of relicts from this time are still preserved, some of which can be seen in the permanent exhibition of the association „Museum-Kummersdorf“. Others have been left behind in the now abandoned and desolate facility, which is nevertheless listed as a historical heritage site. Among them is this mural, which covers the entire back wall of the hall in the former cultural centre and is not in such a bad state of preservation considering the years of weathering.

K3In the centre is a communist symbol often used by the CPSU: the earth surrounded by a garland of corn with a hammer and sickle in the centre, above which is a red star. To the left of the emblem, the Red Army is honoured. The date 1918 commemorates its founding and the figure of the „Liberator“ standing on a broken swastika celebrates the victory over fascist Germany. On the right side of the mural we have the constellation with Lenin as the central figure. In the background we can see different buildings symbolising the modern Soviet Union. Bridges, dams, electricity masts, factories and apartment blocks appear next to the headquarters of the CPSU and the Red Square in Moscow. In front of these images waves the red flag of the 27th Party Congress and in the very foreground marches Lenin, all in black and white, with only the red ribbon on his jacket standing out in colour. With his outstretched right arm he seems to be showing the way. A picture full of confidence that does not yet foreshadow the imminent dissolution of the USSR.

Like most murals of the Soviet Army in Germany, this one is also situated in the ruins of a ghost town. The entire complex is a protected historical site, but due to the more than 4,000 inventoried building structures, the protection of the remains is a complicated task. The association Museum-Kummersdorf is engaged in this area and also offers regular guided tours to these former military area.

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