Collection of unique exhibits from frontline

Bits and Pieces Between Life and Death international exhibition, from Stockholm Army Museum, on display at Brest Hero Fortress Memorial

Bits and Pieces Between Life and Death international exhibition, from Stockholm Army Museum, on display at Brest Hero Fortress Memorial

Over a thousand items belonging to Russian and Soviet, American and German, British and Japanese soldiers and officers are on show across 66 cases. Dating from the second half of the 19th century through to the first half of the 20th century, some items are dedicated to a single individual while others are themed collections — such as flask bottles, compasses and shaving sets. Other exhibits include games, which helped pass the time in dugouts, alongside musical instruments, field utensil sets, smoking pipes, first aid medicine, bandaging materials, medals and awards, and money and photographs.

The Swedish museum, helped by collector Torbjorn Lenskog, has gathered a rich collection of spoons, forks, folding knives, corkscrews, openers and, even, Japanese field set chopsticks. There are primus heaters, hot plates, mini-stoves and burners — as used to warm food in the trenches. Instructions for military chefs have been preserved, as have colourful boxes of tea, sugar, salt and tablets to purify water.

Rare elements of military uniform are shown separately, as are men’s braces and ties, and female stockings, powder, lipstick and hair lotion. Printed items include statutes, instruction booklets, multilingual phrase books, frontline newspapers and brochures, leaflets and posters.

The Director of the Brest Regional Local History Museum, Alexey Mityukov, congratulated his colleagues on the wonderful exhibition, calling the collection ‘truly luxurious’. He believes that the host venue is perfect since its walls ‘remember war’. He notes, “These items, which survived the war, have an unusual aura. Although this is a military exhibition, it is primarily dedicated to people in the deepest humanitarian sense. All those who see these items will be touched.”

The exhibition first went on show at the Army Museum in Stockholm, on July 1st, 2010. In Sweden, it was declared the most visually impressive exhibition of the year, being presented with a gold award. It has toured Norway, Belgium and Poland with success. The initiator of the exhibition in Belarus is the National History Museum, with support from the Culture Ministry. Last year, the exhibition was shown in Grodno, Minsk and Gomel; it is now scheduled to remain at Brest Fortress until the end of March.

By Mikhail Svetlov
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