After the end of the Great War, the Soviet authorities commissioned the enormous Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex to commemorate the battle of Stalingrad. The Memorial complex, named and dedicated ‘To the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad’ represents a unique formation with a total height of 820 meters from its foot to the top. It is a tribute to the memory of those who died in the great battle of the River Volga, the most significant land battle in the human history which became a turning point in the World War II. The entire complex includes many huge and magnificent statues and the centre of attraction of the ensemble is the world famous sculpture ‘The Motherland Calls’, one of the most recognizable and artistic war monuments in the world.
Designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and structural engineer Nikolai Nikitin, the Motherland Calls is the statue of an allegorical image of the Motherland, which calls on its sons and daughters to come forward to protect the country and fight back the enemy. In 1967, it is declared as the tallest statue in the world. Today, it is the tallest statue in Europe and excluding any pedestal, it is the tallest statue of a woman in the world.
From an engineering point of view it is significantly more complex than any other statue, due to its characteristic posture with a sword raised high in the right hand and the left hand extended in a calling gesture. Combination of pre stressed concrete with ropes structure is used as a technique for the construction of the statue, a solution which can also be found in another work of Nikitin, the super tall Ostankino Tower in Moscow.
The construction of the magnificent monument, crowned by a huge allegorical statue of the Motherland on the top of the hill, started in May 1967 and completed on 15 October. The concrete sculpture, measures 87 m (279 feet) from the tip of its sword to the top of the plinth. The figure itself measures 52 m (170 feet) tall and the sword with stainless steel blade measures 33 m (108 feet). About 5.500 tons of concrete and 2,400 tons of metal structures were used for the construction of the colossal statue, while the sword weighs 14 tons. The rigidity of the frame is supported by 99 metal cables constantly in tension. The sculpture is hollow. Inside, the entire statue consists of separate cells or chambers, like rooms in a building. The concrete walls of the sculpture are 25-30 cm thick. The monument stands on a 16 m foundation.
The sword was originally made of the stainless steel sheathed with titanium sheets. But, due to its colossal dimension, the sword was strongly swayed in the wind, which caused excessive mechanical stress in the place where the hand holding the sword was attached to the body of the sculpture. The shape, size and design of the enormous sword also caused the movement of sheets of titanium plating, creating pitched sound of thundering metal. In 1972, it was replaced by the sword of the fluorinated steel, with holes in the upper part of the sword to reduce its windage.
The battle of Stalingrad continued for 200 days and 200 steps lead from the bottom of the hill to the monument, which dominates the city of Stalingrad, subsequently renamed Volgograd. The statue is a remembrance of the classical Greek representations of Nike, particularly for the flowing drapery, similar to that of the Nike of Samothrace.
It is said that Vuchetich sculpted the figure of Motherland alike the discus thrower Nina Dubadze, while its face resembles the face of his wife Vera. However, the model who posed for the statue is Valentina Izotova, a native of the city.
The Motherland Calls is the statue of a robust woman standing on the mound and with sword in hand she encourages her sons and daughters to fight for the country. Her right foot slightly back, torso and head vigorously deployed to the left. Her stern and resolute face, frown, wide open screaming mouth, her short hair and long dress fanned by wind gusts – everything taken together creates a feeling of strength, an irresistible urge to strive forward, a patriotic passion to do anything for the country. Mother Motherland sculpture look great on all sides at any time of the year. It dominates the whole city and it is visible from ten kilometers.