Together with the President and national motorcycle club leader Alexander Zaldostanov, Great Patriotic War veterans pressed a symbolic button to start the fountain. Mr Putin spent some time talking with the veterans who came to the unveiling ceremony.
The Children’s Dance fountain survived the carpet bombing of Stalingrad by German aviation on August 23, 1942. Some 40,000 civilians were killed in the raid. The photo taken that same day by frontline reporter Emmanuil Yevzerikhin, showing the fountain with its sculptures of dancing children against the backdrop of still smoking city ruins, was seen all around the world.
The sculptures were restored for the Victory Day celebration in 1945, but it was later decided to dismantle the fountain. Alexander Zaldostanov started the initiative to reconstruct the fountain on its original site. Moscow sculptor Alexander Burganov was commissioned to make an exact replica of the original. A smaller copy of the damaged fountain, as the wartime photographer captured it, will be presented as a gift to the Battle of Stalingrad Museum and Park.
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Speech at the unveiling ceremony of the restored Children’s Dance fountain
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, veterans,
The Great Patriotic War’s history contains many glorious pages and symbols of our victory. Here in Volgograd in February, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. In June, we commemorated the tank battle at Prokhorovka. Today, the country is marking the 70th anniversary of the decisive defeat inflicted on the Nazi forces in the Battle of Kursk. Each of these cities and villages became symbols of our victory, and each of them had their own small symbols too.
One such symbol was this fountain with its sculptural group of dancing figures in pre-war Stalingrad. It symbolised joy, life and childhood’s carefree spirit. But it was a work destined to become a symbol of a different kind.
On August 23, 1942, the Nazis launched their first brutal mass air raid on Stalingrad, destroying entire residential districts, kindergartens, schools and hospitals. People all around the world saw the photo of these dancing children set against the city’s smouldering ruins. It was then that it became a symbol of Nazi barbarity and of the people of Stalingrad’s courage and heroism.
The Nazis tried to take the city in one swift blow but the city’s defenders stopped them in their stride with their unprecedented bravery and heroism. Never yet had the Nazis encountered such resistance. Torn apart by bullets and bombs the city not only lived and fought on, but stood firm and won.
I want to express my thanks to the people who are young still, but who remembered this symbol of Stalingrad and have restored it to its historic site. I thank everyone who was behind this idea and who helped to carry it out.
Looking at this monument, at this sculptural work, we will always remember the living and the fallen. We will always remember to whom we owe this victory. We will always remember that truth always triumphs over hatred, enmity and barbarity. I bow low before you, veterans!