Battlefield in miniature

The Models of the Great Patriotic War’s Military Machinery exhibition — held at the Vitebsk Regional Museum of the USSR Hero Minai Shmyrev — is showcasing miniature exhibits. Exact small copies of the military machinery used in battle are on display, based on the personal collection of Vitebsk resident Dmitry Kirillov

By Tatiana Krevtsova

“The idea was born last summer when I met guys from the Vitebsk branch of the Companion-in-Arms military-historical reconstruction club,” explains the museum’s Director, Irina Shishkova. “We learnt that some people in Vitebsk are involved in model-making at a very high level, using technical details from WWII and showing the weaponry used by Soviet soldiers to achieve our Great Victory.”

Mr. Kirillov has been making models for over twenty years. Being passionate about his hobby, he reads avidly on his subject, comparing the smallest details of archive records and photos. “The ultimate achievement is authenticity. A model tank should be assembled and painted so that, on comparing it with a documentary photo, no one can distinguish it from a real prototype,” says Mr. Kirillov. When he speaks of his models, it seems they must have participated in real battles. It is the central idea of the exhibition, showing models in motion, against archive military-topographical maps placed in chronological order.

Among the exhibits is the legendary KV-2 heavy tank. According to Dmitry, its prototype participated in the defence of Vitebsk, as confirmed by an archive photo (used to make the model). Also interesting are the photos of Soviet soldiers, seen in moments of delight at capturing enemy machinery, which they display as a trophy. “I’d like our youngsters to know more about the Great Patriotic War,” stresses Mr. Kirillov. “Young people should understand that war is always terrible. It’s much more complicated than ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’ divided by a barricade. To be patriotic, you should know your history, so we should fill gaps in knowledge via popular means: interesting exhibitions and reconstructions. It should be done from the earliest of ages.” Mr. Kirillov heads the district inspectorate for young people’s affairs (for under 18s) so he knows what he’s talking about. His hobby has many times helped him in his work. In his spare time, the militia colonel heads a club for historical-military miniatures but has no desire to convert anyone to model-making. He primarily wishes to promote youngsters’ interest in our history, taking them away from blindly spending time on computers or wasting precious hours hanging about on the street.

His son, Vlad, helps his father make models, using paper and cardboard. He already knows how to recreate vehicles from the past, ensuring our peaceful present.

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