The Early Experience of the Memorialization of the Civil War in the South of Russia: the First Monument to the Taman Army Heroes
The article aims to identify the circumstances of the construction of a monument to the participants of the Taman Red Army campaign in the village Slavyanskaya and to reveal the symbolic value that the then contemporaries attributed to the monument at the time of its creation. The materials of the study were the documents of the personal archive of G.N. Baturin, the Chief of the Staff of the Taman Army, preserved in the Center for Documentation of Contemporary History of Rostov Oblast. The documents were fragmentary, so the author reconstructed information about the related events and the historical figures involved in them; she also attributed photographic materials. The research methodology involved the use of systematic historical and historical genetic methods, as well as the principles of diachronic analysis. The author prefaces the study with a fact-based excursion into the history of the Taman Red Army and a brief account of the postwar fate of its men. She establishes the circumstances of the emergence of the idea to construct the monument and to hold a competition of projects before its construction, describes the winning project and its creator, the architect and artist Alexander Junger. She notes the distinctive nature of the monument: the Soviet standard of revolutionary memorials were not formed at that time. The author thoroughly analyzes the events related to the laying and construction of the monument, the contradictions and problems (both financial economic and personal) that accompanied the construction, shows how they were solved. She reveals the details of the ceremonial events accompanying the unveiling of the monument, identifies persons who made a significant personal contribution to the construction of the monument, and characterizes the monument’s symbolism, which is dominated by ancient oriental signs. The monument does not contain traditional Soviet symbols except for the coat of arms on the top of the stele. The massiveness of the monument can be interpreted as a reminder of the difficulties of the campaign of the Taman Army. The author concludes that the military spirit inherent in the monument reflects the self-consciousness of the Taman men, who established themselves as professional soldiers as a result of the Civil War. The erected obelisk was not only a monument to the fallen comrades, but also a claim of the living Taman people for a special place in the pantheon of heroes of the revolution. The snake crushed by the weight of the obelisk means not only the “hydra of the counterrevolution”, but also the outdated social class organization of Russian society.