Rodina Mat, the 303 feet tall stainless steel statue of the Motherland Monument, that stands proudly over the skyline of Kiev, ranks 18th on the list of the world’s tallest statues. Originally it was designed to be even taller. But, as the size of the sword of the statue measured bigger than the cross of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, a renowned Orthodox Christian Monastery, its size was cut short ridiculously. The statue has a 52 feet long sword in the right hand, while the left hand holds up a 43 feet by 26 feet shield with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union. It was the second and the last Nation's Mother monument, erected in the USSR, that was inaugurated by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1981.
During 1950s, there was a plan to install two 200 m tall statues of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin on the site. However, it is said that, during 1970s a team of Communist Party officials, along with reputed sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich inspected the spot and decided that a war memorial would be ideally suited for the panorama. Unfortunately, Yevgeny Vuchetich, the designer of the ‘Motherland Calls’ in Volgograd, died in 1974 and the design of the memorial was afterwards substantially reworked and completed under the guidance of Vasyl Borodai. Plans were finalized in 1978 and the construction of the project started in 1979.
Unfortunately, Rodin Mat completely lacked the appeal of the Motherland Calls in Volgograd and after its inauguration by Brezhnev, became a subject of ridicule, as ‘Brezhnev’s daughter’. It also became a subject of controversy due to the massive costs that many believed could be utilized for better purposes. Many felt that the statue should be pulled down, as she is a symbol of the Soviet State and communism. Nevertheless, as a bold attempt to move away from the days of communist oppression, the Ukraine parliament has recently outlawed the Soviet and communist symbols in the country in April 2015. However, the monuments relating to World War II, which includes Rodina Mat and her surroundings, were exempted from the legislation. In February 2018, it was proposed that according to the law, the state emblem of the Soviet Union on the shield of the monument should be removed. However, it is not removed till date.
The towering statue of Rodina Mat, visible from various points around Kiev, is the city’s most distinctive feature. Set on the top of the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, formerly known as the Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II, it has a pair of viewing platforms. There are two elevators, which move at a 75 degree angle due to the tapered construction of the pedestal and carry the visitors up to the arm and then a climb, up to the top of the shield by a ladder. The view from the top is spectacular and at the same time somewhat nerve-wracking as the statue moves slightly in the wind.
Below the towering statue in its base is the large, dimly lit memorial hall of the Museum displaying marble plaques containing the names of about 11,600 soldiers and over 200 workers on the home-front, honoured during the war with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
The huge outdoor complex of the museum, covering ten hectares, contains bold, large and imposing sculptures depicting the Nazi occupation and the courageous struggles against the German invasion. Apart from that, lots of tanks, trucks, airplanes, helicopters and other assorted vehicles and weapons are carefully arranged as exhibits. With more than 300,000 exhibits, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War is undoubtedly the largest museum in Ukraine.