“Kombat”, Avenue of Glory

Location: Zaporizhia, Ukraine

Completed: 1975

Architects: S. Vasilevsky, V. Fedorenko (architects) and I. Nosenko (sculptor)

Genre: War memorial, Soviet memorial, former USSR

The Avenue of Glory dates back to 1965 and was the first memorial of its kind in the Soviet Union. It was inaugurated to mark the 20th anniversary of Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War (World War II) and veterans who had taken part in the campaign to retake the Zaporizhia region from German occupation each planted an oak tree to form the walkway.

The granite monument “Kombat” was unveiled in 1975. It is based on a photograph of the same name which was taken by Soviet photojournalist, Max Alpert (1899-1980), during the war. The photo immortalises a junior commissar raising his TT pistol and readying for the attack shortly before (possibly) being shot and killed by enemy fire.

Soviet propaganda at the time named the officer Oleksiy Yeremenko from Ekaterinoslav province (now Zaporizhzhia Oblast) and recorded the heroic act as taking place on 12th July 1942 on a battlefield in the eastern Luhansk region of Ukraine. The official version of events also recorded that Yeremenko died not long after going over the top. However, a later study by a group of Ukrainian historians, coupled with commentary from Max Alpert’s own (1962) autobiography, raised a number of discrepancies relating to the photo, based around when and where it was taken, whether Yeremenko was actually the person pictured, and even whether or not the image was taken on the front line. Inconsistencies aside, the scene remains one of the most iconic Soviet images of World War II.

Avenue of Glory in Zaporizhia, Ukraine | War memorial | Soviet memorial | former USSR

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