First of all, we should talk about the initial work on creating a diorama. They should be attributed to 1970. Even then, during the period of drawing up the thematic exposition plan for the future exposition on the Great Patriotic War in the new building of the museum, I planned the diorama “Forcing the Dnieper by the troops of the Soviet Army in the area of the villages of Voiskovoe and Vovnygi of the Solonyan District of the Dnipropetrovsk Region”, and for its full-scale (subject ) of the plan, the items of weapons, equipment, uniforms, means of transportation, ammunition and other things that were in the museum’s funds and intended for collection were included in the thematic-expositional plan.
But before concretely planning the display of the named area, and later justifying it for approval by the scientific and methodological council of the museum, it was necessary to turn over mountains of literature, both historical and memoir, memoirs and letters, documents of participants in the battle for the Dnieper and other sources. Unfortunately, there were few reports in the literature and press about this area of forcing at that time; for some reason, this area was overlooked by researchers.
This lack of clarity among a number of my colleagues at the museum, as well as other historians of the city, with whom I had to deal with at work, caused doubts about the correctness of the choice of the district. They were more inclined to show the already well-researched and studied area near the village of Auly in the Krynychan district (above Dneprodzerzhinsk). The director of the museum Agrippina Fedoseyevna Vatchenko and the deputy director for scientific work Hryhoriy Ilyich Shevchenko shared the same opinion. The persuasive arguments presented by me eliminated all doubts, and the proposal for the creation of a diorama of the forcing of the Dnieper in the Voiskovoe-Vovnyga area was approved.
As you can see, this was back in 1970, that is, long before the management of the studio named after M. Grekov and the artists began negotiations on the creation of a diorama. We never dreamed that Greeks would work in our museum.
When introducing the diorama into the thematic and expositional plan, I had in mind its small dimensions, approximately 3×6 m with an abstract display of events, and since its dimensions have increased incredibly and so unexpectedly, it required concreteness, scrupulous accuracy of the depiction of events: the battle area, the relief of the area, the location and the interaction of formations, units, units, individuals, their forms of clothing, actions, weapons, and much, much more that surfaced when, figuratively speaking, a creative union with artists was already born and, as it became accepted among colleagues, joked, “earned union of three musketeers”. I started working with Mykola Yakovlevich But and Mykola Vasilyevich Ovechkin on the creation of a diorama in 1971.
Departing somewhat from the story with the aim of correcting already existing fictions, I would like to say that the idea of taking the diorama outside the Great Patriotic War hall, that is, behind its walls (after considering a number of options), belongs precisely to Greek artists, and specifically to N.Ya .Butu.
His version greatly improved the developed project of the museum building, which acquired strict, majestic and finished forms, therefore the author of the building project, architect Vladimir Aleksandrovich Zuev, enthusiastically supported Booth’s proposal and accepted it for execution and creative implementation.
Simultaneously with the study of the forcing area (the left and right banks of the Dnieper), where we went several times, inviting with us former soldiers-veterans of battles on the bridgehead (the former commander of the 57th Guards Rifle Division of the Guard, retired Major General Andrey Pavlovich Karnov, former commander Aleksey Yakovlevich Obukhov of the 73rd Guards Rifle Regiment of the 25th Guards Rifle Division, former chief of staff of the 203rd Rifle Division Vladimir Sergeevich Chernenko, a resident of the village of Voronovo in the Sinelnikov district, Pavel Petrovich Zapadny – during the forcing period, the leader of the reconnaissance group of the 25th Guards Rifle Division, etc.), I began to carefully study the memoirs and letters of veterans, which began to flow into the museum in large numbers in response to my letters and appeal published in the newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda”. The contradictions of a number of memories, the multitude of unclear questions that arose from the very beginning of the creation of the diorama, the paucity of information in historical, memoir literature, and the periodical press – made it necessary to work for a long time in the archives, and, above all, in the Archives of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and the State Archive of Film and Photographic Documents under the Council of Ministers USSR, where I left in March 1972.
Being confident in my impartiality and objectivity of showing on the diorama the actions of the troops of various units and formations, relying on my experience of military service, the knowledge of a historian and the experience of a museum worker on the topic of the history of the Great Patriotic War, as well as having examples of deliberate misrepresentation of events in order to glorify one’s role , the roles of one’s army, corps, division, and diminishing the role of a neighbor (such dangerous examples were already observed, or rather, were, at the very beginning of the creation of our diorama), N.N. But and N.V. Ovechkin refused any military and other external consultants. From the very beginning, oddly enough, I became both a scientific and a military consultant for them; more precisely, he saved them from incredibly difficult, painstaking, very imperceptible, but necessary scientific and research work that requires a lot of time. In turn, I myself felt a huge party responsibility, a responsibility to the veterans – living witnesses of those events and my conscience, considering it a great honor to work together with such great masters of painting of the famous studio of military artists, as N.N. But and N.V. Ovechkin. I, like any other historian, was lucky to have such a creative fellowship.
Such a “disposition of forces” suited the artists, suited the management of the studio, and it suited me, since no one from outside interfered with me, and I did everything that depended on me so that the truth of the events was imprinted on the diorama, so that the diorama, thanks to the talent of the artists, really became a worthy monument Worthy Sons of the Fatherland.
I am glad that I had to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Great Victory in the tense rhythm of everyday life at the front.
During the period of work in the Archives of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, I studied the archival documents of the headquarters of armies, corps, divisions and brigades operating in the area of forcing: 1/historical forms; 2/ logs of combat operations; 3/battle orders; 4/ combat reports; 5/ political reports; 6/ operational summaries; 7/ working cards; 8/report cards; 9/ award documents; 10/ army and division newspapers; 11/ weather reports (studying them was necessary to determine the shape of soldiers’ clothing during forcing, as well as to show weather conditions on a diorama). At the request of the artists and mutual “agreement” with them, I had to go to the studio after working in the archive at 8 o’clock in the evening. During the train ride from Podolsk to Moscow, I recalled the material learned during the day, made notes in a notebook, and when I met, I explained all this to the artists, and they immediately made sketches on the diorama sketch during the story. It was also the case that what was written yesterday was redone and modified today based on new information. Thus, by the end of my work in the archive, the working sketch and the layout of the diorama were ready.
Another interesting detail. It was during the period of work in the archive that we resolved an essential question: how to show the events on the diorama, how to reveal the picture of the battle – either from the side of the enemy’s troops towards the Dnieper in the direction of our crossing troops, or from the side of the Dnieper in the direction of the advance of our troops, when visible the moment of forcing the wide water surface and storming the high Dnieper cliffs?
The artists made two layouts with different depictions of events, but the second version turned out to be more original and successful, and we decided on it. Later, the Art Council of the Grekov Studio approved exactly this option. Thus, another invention is noted, where, when and by whom the version of the diorama that was brought to life was proposed.
On the basis of extracts from documents and copies of maps made in work notebooks, I wrote the plot of the diorama and a literary script (historical essay) with an appendix describing the exploits of the heroes and more than 50 of their photos found on various channels to give the heroes a personal likeness to the characters on the diorama .
The finished sketch of the diorama was filmed on color transparencies, we viewed it through a filmoscope at the technical complex of the Central House of the Soviet Army, the artists made some changes after that, and two months later the diorama project with the layout and transparencies was presented to the public of Dnipropetrovsk for broad discussion with the participation of responsible workers of the regional committee and city committee of the CP of Ukraine, executive committees of the regional and city Soviets of workers’ deputies, scientists-historians of Dnipropetrovsk, officers and generals of the garrison troops, military commanders and veterans of the Great Patriotic War, participants in the forcing of the Dnieper. After my presentation, the story of the artist N.V. Ovechkin with a demonstration of slides, an inspection of the model and the presentation of a number of comrades with comments and suggestions (among those who spoke were Mr. Kachalovsky, Pashchenko, Pychuzhkin), the diorama project was approved and approved.
This was our first joint success, and we remembered after the discussion how we had reworked the work already done several times, how I was waiting for them to suddenly rebel against these rework after my next visit from Podolsk, how instead of grumbling, they persistently and lovingly recreated the picture of the battle on canvas and model.
Yes, it was a truly real creative community, when the success of one pleased the other, when my success as a researcher pleased the artists, and, conversely, I perceived their creative luck (and they worked like obsessives) with no less joy than they did. This is how we worked together from the very beginning until the opening of the diorama on every compositional node, on every detail, on every hero. We even have aviation, and it is not nameless, but has its own heroes and exploits; artists captured my finds on canvas. For example: I found the pilot hero Mikhail Karpukhin and his feat to save his comrade in arms – Vladimir Khomenko, literally in the process of completing the diorama. N.V. Ovechkin successfully composed the air battle, again, I suggested the artist to write the true boarding number on the fuselage of the aircraft. Thus, the recorded episode became credible and worries both visitors and these two heroes. They come to the diorama as if to meet their fighting youth, and leave touched, satisfied and proud, and the visitors look at them as if they were a living legend.
So, that’s how our joint work was built, about which each of us carried the best memory and kept warm feelings for each other, great mutual respect. I am often asked: was it difficult? It would be possible to cover my soul and say that it is normal, but I will not do this and I will say with all frankness: it was difficult, as never before.
The fact is that during the creation of the diorama, no one exempted me from general tasks, on which the entire team of scientific employees of the museum worked hard. And it must be said that in connection with the preparation of the exposition in the new building, these tasks and works by their nature were complex and… always urgent. Not only that, the past two years gave us several glorious anniversaries of liberation: first – cities, later – regions, after them – republics, and finally – the 30th anniversary of the Great Victory.
Since I know about the Great Patriotic War section in the museum, it should be clear to everyone what all this means.
And this means:
first of all, – stationary exhibitions and among them, monumental city exhibitions – on Novaya Street in the area of the park named after V. P. Chkalov (war section) in association with the artist Y. M. Sherman and on the square named after YOU. Lenin in partnership with the artist I.K. Ilchuk; based on them, a number of stationary and mobile exhibitions were created in cinemas, clubs, palaces of culture and other places;
secondly, to help the lecturers and propagandists of the region, the texts of the lectures were written and reproduced by the regional organizations of the “Knowledge” and the preservation of historical and cultural monuments: “Combat and labor exploits of Dnipropetrovsk residents during the Great Patriotic War”; “30 years of the liberation of the Dnipropetrovsk region from the German-fascist invaders”; “30 years of the victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945”;
thirdly, – direct reading of lectures for workers at conferences, seminars, meetings and other events at enterprises, institutions, educational institutions, etc.;
fourthly, – participation in the work of the organizing committee at the Gorkome of the Communist Party of Ukraine on the preparation of the celebration of significant dates, and for a museum worker there was more than enough of it;
fifth, – in the process of working with the artists on the completion of the diorama, I wrote a methodical development of a lecture for future tour guides, conducted practical classes with them. At the same time, for the publishing house “Promin” I prepared the text of the guidebook on the diorama with the aim of its wide popularization;
sixthly, perhaps not a single rally for the opening of monuments and memorial plaques in the city to commemorate the event and in honor of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War was complete without a detailed historical report being prepared and sent to the executive committee of the City Council of Workers’ Deputies etc., etc., that is, so much has been done that I wonder to myself how this whole bouquet of events and works was carried out.
Truly, this was a real battle suffering, and I am glad that it was crowned with victory on such a significant day.
They also ask me: who helped you in the work on the diorama? It is easier to answer this question.
The most active, the most reliable, the best and, perhaps, my only assistants in research and practical work with artists were veterans of the Great Patriotic War and, in particular, participants in the battle for the Dnieper. No matter who I turned to, either in writing or in person, I always found kindness, help and support. Our famous commanders Alexander Mykhailovych Vasylevsky, Andrey Antonovich Grechko, Alexander Vladimirovich Sudets, Vasiliy Ivanovich Chuikov, army and division commanders Alexey Ilyich Danilov, Gavriil Stanislavovich Zdanovich, Grigory Arkhipovich Kryvolapov, Ivan Yakovlevich Kulagin and many others always found time and opportunity to help the council, reference, clarification, replenishment of the museum fund with the necessary materials. To all of them – soldiers, sergeants and marshals, officers and generals – my humblest bow and heartfelt gratitude.
I would like to say a kind word to the employees of the Archive of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and the State Archive of Film and Photographic Documents under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, their kindness, attention and high professional skill, with which they always try to satisfy the requests of researchers, should be envied.
But what else helped me to overcome difficulties and obstacles (and there were many, more precisely, many of them arose) was the complete trust in the results of my research work on the part of the artists, the management of their studio. M. B. Grekov and the director, namely the director of the Vatchenko Museum Agrippina Fedoseevna. This instilled confidence in the correctness of conclusions and actions, made it possible to reject imposed erroneous dogmas and firmly defend one’s position as a researcher and scientific consultant. Without their goodwill and moral support, it would be impossible to overcome difficulties in work.
I think that our small creative group coped with its task, and how, as evidenced by the reviews of visitors to the diorama and gray-haired veterans of the second world war.