A New Year, a new nation

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The site of the brutal-assassinations, in 1918, of the final tsar, Nicholas II, and his family.  The assassinations were committed by henchmen of what would become the dread “KGB”.

A church?

No, it had been a bungalow.  Its location:  the Ural-Mountains city of Yekaterinburg.  The bungalow was razed, in the last days of the old Union, by order of the provincial governor, Boris Yeltsin (destined to be first president of what became the “Russian Federation”).

The birth of the Russian Federation: 1991.

Quickly, on the site of the razed bungalow, construction began of an Orthodox temple. It was to be dedicated to the memory of Tsar Nicholas and his family. It was to be known as the “Temple on the Blood”.

photo © 2010, Landis McGauhey

 

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Close-up of the temple’s exterior cross: adorned with a frieze of the martyred tsar and his family.

photo © 2010, Landis McGauhey

 

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The temple’s main entrance.  The legend:

“Holy Martyrs, Please F0rgive Us”.

A national act of repentance. A new nation.

photo © 2010, Landis McGauhey

May the new year, for you and yours, likewise be one of repentance if necessary.  And may the New Year, for you and yours, be one of serenity, reciprocated-love, wise choices, prosperity, and peace.

Last Chance Lost

The forces of the Third Reich threw away their last chance for survival, let-alone victory, in the USSR, 73 years ago today.

Through a winter-frozen mix of fatigue, apathy, and totalitarian vanity, the command of the Wehrmacht 6th Army– a quarter-million men– on 19 December 1942 rejected an order to try to break through their complete encirclement by the Red Army.  The Soviets’ circular-siege was anchored in northern Stalingrad.

The 6th Army command disobeyed the breakout order even though another formidable Nazi force had struggled at great cost to try to help 6th Army.  The 57th Panzer Corps, commanded by the gifted Colonel General Hermann “Papa” Hoth, had fought its way to Stalingrad’s southern exurbs, not-far from the Soviets’ circular-siege of the 6th Army.

Hoth’s mission was, from the outside, to smash into the Soviets’ siege-circle at the same time and place 6th Army was to smash out-of the siege-circle.  Thus the Nazi high command in the USSR anticipated a corridor through a ruptured siege-circle.  Through the corridor, much if not most of 6th Army would escape.

But it was not to be, because of a Nazi decision.

Because of this disobedience by command of a Nazi Army:  the huge loss of all Nazi strategic-initiative in the USSR.  From 19 December 1942– in the larger, strategic,
view– Nazi forces in the USSR effectively were walking backward.

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The flour mill atop the West-bank Volga-River bluffs, above the main landing stages for Soviet forces, in the center of the former Stalingrad. September 2015.
© Landis McGauhey 2015

 

 

© Landis McGauhey 2015

Subtle Or Forthright

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In the USA, our cigarette packs have a subtle blurb in small print, on the side, “The Surgeon General has determined yadayadayada, etc.”

But not in Russia.  Here, in big block letters on the front of the pack it simply says,
SMOKING KILLS

I always enjoy such comparisons and contrasts between our two nations.

 

© Landis McGauhey

Almost the Last One Here for Me…

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…and it might be just as well.

This is “Babe Leto”– “Grandma’s Summer”, “Old-Ladies’ Summer”*– and it is always pleasant here in Moscow.  Just two more of these sun-rises, and I am scheduled to begin my journey home.

The leaves still are well on the trees.  Later, in the rays of the afternoon sun, the temperature felt just like Central California.  Went out in shirt sleeves (rolled-up), no jacket.

But there was a strong breeze.  And in the shadows of the apartment high-rises– Soviet-era and newer– it was refreshingly cool.  And it is hard to believe, just one week from now, that breeze may be downright cold and the leaves might be falling.

My scheduled-departure for home is nigh…and here, winter’s arrival might also be…

*just as we Yanks say “Indian Summer”

 

© Landis McGauhey