The Motherland Calls Receiving Major Restoration Work

Published: August 3, 2019

Activists have long campaigned for a full restoration of Russia’s famous Motherland Calls sculpture in Volgograd. Made of reinforced concrete, the massive structure has long shown concerning signs of wear – ranging from being stained by pollution to visible cracks forming. The following report details the restoration work – including the techniques and process used – that is finally being carried out in preparation of the 75th anniversary of Victory Day. Like the holiday, the statue was originally built to celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

Two Reports About the Situtation

The first report also shows some of the engineering involved that keeps the statue standing – including the massive cables that line its hollow inside. The second report below shows how bad the situation was before restoration started.

Activists also shown concern over the foundation of the monument. The statue was never given a foundation, and has always remained upright via its own weight. However, the statue was built on clay near a river and over an aquifer. Due to the water under it, it has slid approximately 221 millimeters (~8.7 inches) towards the river since it was first built. The sliding has slowed in recent years and most agree that the most recent sliding was caused by large scale construction work (including a nearby shopping mall and housing complex) that was allowed to move forward despite concerns that it would affect the geology of the area.

Authorities have expressed confidence that additional sliding can be contained. However, engineers have calculated that if the statue moves another 38 millimeters (~1.5 inches), that it may then begin to lose structural integrity due to tipping.

No mention is made in the report of any work considered to the foundations, but authorities have also said elsewhere that they are keeping careful tabs on the measurements. Also worth mentioning is that although the first report below mentions that an “exact 3D model” of the monument doesn’t exist, 3-D scans have been made before – in part to help track the movement of the statue as well as major deformations.


The Motherland Calls Receiving Major Restoration Work

News report translated by Mikaela Peters

Реконструкцию легендарной скульптуры «Родина-мать зовет!» назвали настоящей инженерной спецоперацией Reconstruction of the Legendary Motherland Calls Sculpture Has Been an Engineering Feat
Масштабные приготовления к 75-й годовщине Дня Победы — идут в Волгограде. Реконструкция легендарной скульптуры «Родина-мать зовет!» должна закончиться как раз весной будущего года. А сейчас главный символ города окутан строительными лесами. Специалисты признаются: для них все происходящее — профессиональный вызов. Large-scale preparations are taking place in Volgograd for the 75th anniversary of Victory Day. Reconstruction of the legendary Motherland Calls sculpture should be completed just in time for spring of next year. But for now, the city’s main symbol is shrouded in scaffolding. The experts admit that everything to date has been a true calling of their profession.
Только голову, руки и меч еще можно рассмотреть в деталях. Внутри огромного металлического кокона силуэт знаменитой статуи Вучетича словно размыт. За полвека существования ее лишь трижды одевали в леса: когда строили, когда меняли меч и теперь — для масштабной реставрации. Only the head, hands, and sword can still be seen clearly. Inside the huge metal chrysalis, the silhouette of Vuchetich’s famous statue is completely blurred. In the last half-century, it has been dressed in scaffolding at least thrice: when it was built, when the sword was changed, and now – for major restoration work.
Эта конструкции кажется ажурной и очень хрупкой. На деле, даже отдельную трубу пошатнуть невозможно. На высоте 12 м приблизительно подол платья скульптуры. Но со стороны уже видно, что почти вся статуя укутана уникальными строительными лесами. This design seems very delicate and fragile. In fact, not a single pipe can be shaken. The hem of the sculpture’s dress stands approximately twelve meters high. Even at a glance, it is evident that nearly every inch of the statue is enveloped in unique scaffolding.
Казалось бы! Что может быть необычного и сложного во временной вспомогательной конструкции? Но оказалось, что точной 3D-модели 85-метровой скульптуры просто не существует и рассчитать все на компьютере нельзя. Поэтому каждый из 30 ярусов, как дорогой костюм, подгоняют по фигуре. Just look! What could be so unusual and complicated in this temporary support structure? It turns out that an exact 3D model of the 85-meter sculpture doesn’t exist and putting it all in a computer can’t be done. Thus, each of these thirty layers (of structure), like an expensive suit, have been fit to the figure.
«Эйфелева башня действительно, гораздо проще, с точки зрении инженерной мысли и устройства конструкций из металла, нежели наши металлические леса», — отмечает представитель компании-подрядчика Сергей Сирота. “Even the Eiffel Tower is much simpler, from an engineering perspective and in the assembly of a metal construction, than our metal scaffolding,” said Sergey Sirota, a representative of the contractor.
Разноцветные кружочки, крестики и цифры на бетонном теле статуи похожи на узоры. С помощью специального прибора здесь заранее нашли и обозначили сколы и рытвины. А общая длина трещин оказалась больше 12 км. Длина этой трещины порядка 8 м. Она уходит вниз. И таких трещин очень много. Multicolored circles, crosses, and numbers on statue’s concrete body make out a sort of pattern. With the aid of a special device, we find and mark out chips and breaks before they happen. The cumulative length of all of the cracks turned out to be more than twelve kilometers long. The length of this crack is about eight meters. It’s spreading downward. And these many of these types of cracks.
Некоторые трещины, по словам строителей, сквозные и на глазах становятся больше. Искусство вечно, но теперь бетонной даме не обойтись без хирургического вмешательства. И если снаружи реставраторы борются за ее внешний вид, то внутри — за здоровье всего инженерного организма. Уже заменили на новые 99 канатов, которые как стальные мышцы держат уникальную ассиметричную скульптуру. Установили систему пожаротушения и сделали новое освещение. Сейчас же дело дошло до мест, где в буквальном смысле слова не ступала нога человека больше полувека. Отдельные комнатки, тоннели и лазы между перегородками были замурованы еще во время строительства. According to the workers, some of these cracks are branching and growing before their eyes. Art is eternal, but our concreate lady cannot escape her need for surgical intervention. And just as the restorers are fighting for her outward appearance, they are also working inside – for the health of this entire organism of engineering. Ninety-nine cables have already been replaced with new ones which, acting as steel muscles, hold this unique, asymmetrical sculpture in place. A fire extinguishing system and new lighting have been installed. The sculpture is at a point where no man has set foot in it for more than half a century. Separate rooms, tunnels, and crawlways were put in between the sections while it was being built.
«Вскрыли эти помещения, которые раньше были недоступны, демонтировали там опалубку и обнаружили там такие же дефекты, места не провибрированного бетона, пустоты, коррозия арматуры, трещины», — рассказывает Сергей Сирота. “We have opened up places that were previously inaccessible. We took apart the formwork there and found some of the same defects, places where the concrete hadn’t been fully condensed, holes, corroded reinforcement, and cracks,” says Sergey Sirota.
Чтобы вылечить все эти болезни, строителям и реставраторам приходится висеть на альпинистском снаряжении, протискиваться и ползать. В пыльном душном простенке шириной меньше метра снимают старую опалубку, чтобы подобраться к проржавевшей арматуре и заменить ее. Чтобы увидеть, как все будет выглядеть в финале, спускаемся в бетонный колодец глубиной 8 метров. To cure her of these illnessesthe workers and restorers have had hang from mountain climbing gear, squeeze, and crawl. Inside of a dusty, stuffy partition space less than a meter wide, they are removing old formwork so that they can get at the rusted reinforcement and replace it. To see how this will look in the end, we will now descend eight meters deep into a concrete well.
Поздно вечером, когда у всех рабочий день уже закончился, на строительные леса поднимаются люди почти в космических скафандрах. Снизу видно, что вокруг них всегда облако пыли. Раньше пилинг скульптуре делали обычным пескоструйным аппаратом, теперь технология более щадящая и эффективная. Под давлением на статую распыляют мел, соду и измельченные фруктовые косточки. Late in the evening, when most people have already completed their day’s work, people practically in space suits are raised up onto the scaffolding. From below you can see a cloud of dust constantly surrounding them. Before, this peeling of the sculpture was done with regular sandblasters, but now the technology is gentler and more effective. Under pressure, the statue is sprayed with chalk, soda, and crushed fruit pits.
«Когда частица, очень мягкая по своей текстуре, попадает на поверхность, она расщепляется на сотни мелких частиц и образует некую мини-взрывную волну и за счет этой энергии, этого мини-взрыва на поверхности и происходит очистка», — поясняет представитель компании-подрядчика Марат Сафиуллин. “When a particle with a very soft texture hits the surface, it splits into hundreds of small particles and forms a kind of mini-blast wave. This energy creates a sort of mini-explosion that cleans the surface,” explains Marat Safiullin, a representative of the contractor.
Вблизи видно, что от пыли, грязи и старых латок бетон величественного монумента похож на лоскутное одеяло. Теперь копоть от местных заводов и мох словно стирают ластиком. И после окончания всех работ весной следующего года знаменитая “Родина-мать” предстанет такой, какой в 1967 году ее впервые увидели на открытии мемориала. From up close you can see that the dust, dirt, and old patching have made the concrete of this majestic monument looks like a scrap quilt. Now the soot from local factories and moss are being practically erased. After the completion of all work in spring of next year, the famous Motherland will appear just as it did when first seen in 1967, at the memorial’s grand opening.


Reported Earlier

The Motherland Calls Statue in Volgograd May Collapse into the Volga

The above text originally appeared on – a site devoted to travel in Russia. To read the original Russian, click here. This has been translated for the first time into English by SRAS Translate Abroad intern Sophia Rehm.

The iconic monument on Volgograd’s Mamayev Kurgan Hill is in need of some serious care.

Valentina Klyushina, curator of The Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad memorial complex, of which the statue is a part, said that The Motherland Calls statue needs serious help. According to Klyushina, Nikolai Nikitin, the lead designer of the monument, left a memorandum to this effect in the early 1970s. As early as 50 years ago, the engineers knew that statue would continually tilt. They calculated that statue could sustain a maximum tilt of 260 millimeters (10 inches). In 2008, a commission established that The Motherland Calls was leaning in the direction of the Volga by 222 millimeters (about 9 inches).

“The state commission claims that there is nothing to worry about, but I’m certain that over the past six years, the statue has already surpassed the critical 40 millimeters and could start to fall at any moment,” Klyushina believes. “What’s more, Nikolai Nikitin wrote a memorandum explaining how to save The Motherland Calls. Raise the monument with a jack to the level of the highest ground beneath it. Create steel supports of different heights. Lower the monument onto the supports, eliminating its tilt. That’s it! I even found a manufacturer that could help with the reinforcements. I appealed to the directors of the memorial complex, but they think that everything is fine. But if the 85-meter sculpture collapses, Volgograd will have disgraced itself in front of the whole world!”

Employees of the Volgograd branch of the Scientific Research Institute of Energy Structures (NIIES), who carry out the technical maintenance of the monument, disagree with Valentina Klyushina. They do not believe that there is reason for concern, and claim that they conduct constant monitoring of the statue, Metro reports.


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About the authors

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for SRAS. He has managed the SRAS Family of Sites, a grouping of publications that cover geopolitics, history, business, economy, pop culture, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He lived in Moscow, Russia from 2003-2022. He also assists in program development and leads SRAS' scholarship programs.

Program attended: All Programs

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Mikaela Peters

Mikaela Peters is a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she studies Business Analytics & Information Technology, Russian, and European Studies. She will be studying Russian and Central Asian Studies in Kyrgyzstan during the 2019-2020 academic year with SRAS. Mikaela decided to seriously study Russian after visiting NASA in 2015, where she has since interned. Mikaela’s desire to enter into a career that will utilize her Russian skills while supporting the U.S. government motivated her to apply and ultimately win a Boren scholarship.

View all posts by: Mikaela Peters