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Red Corner: Communist Statue Parks
Yesterday's Red Corner post discussed the handful of Lenin statues which remain standing in various corners of the former Evil Empire. Most were simply never pushed over and stand today in the same spot in which they were erected so many years ago.
If you are interested in checking some of these out, but not so thrilled with traveling to a place like Omsk to do so, there is another, much easier way to view these rare and endangered statues: Statue Parks.
There are currently three substantial parks which have rescued statues from throughout the former Warsaw Pact and now exhibit them for curious tourists who missed the whole communist experience (and are now willing to pay to see it).
These bronze and marble petting zoos are a very surrealistic experience where statues which were once focal points of squares and parks are now corralled together in a mish-mash of gigantism and totalitarianism, the homage they once evoked belittled by the presence of so many clone-like reproductions assembled in one place-not to mention the absurdity of their stoic visages, frozen in another era, still trying so hard to be taken seriously.
Graveyard of Fallen Monuments, Moscow
This casual park across from Gorky Park has just a few communist statutes mixed in with hundreds of others that have nothing to do with the Soviet era. A light and airy atmosphere blankets the area and really softens up the more notorious statues. History, as is often the case in Russia, is somewhat airbrushed and improved in this presentation.
Szobor Park, Hungary
Just a short bus ride from Budapest, Szobor Park is more of a modern art arrangement in which mammoth communist statues are presented in a stark and powerful manner to really drive home the horror and brutality of the period.
Grutas Park, Lithuania
My personal favorite. Commonly referred to as Stalin World by locals, this park is located amongst acres of birch trees and beautiful lakes; the contrast of evil men against this beautiful landscape is truly unnerving. Grutas Park has more statues than any other park, as well as a zoo, museums, cafes, and even replicas of the train carriages in which thousands of Lithuanians were hauled off to Siberia-by the orders of the very leaders immortalized in the park.