Historical and Cultural Complex Stalin Line

Historical and Cultural Complex Stalin Line

14.12.2020

This is one of the most famous open-air museum complexes that exist in Belarus. It was opened relatively not long ago, in 2005, when the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War was celebrated. It was planned that the Stalin Line would become a kind of a museum of the Soviet fortification in the 30s.

It should be noted that the term "Stalin Line" was never used in the USSR. And the creation of the fortification line took place in the atmosphere of secrecy. But it was impossible to conceal the large-scale construction of fortifications that adjoined the border and stretched from the Karelian Isthmus to the Black Sea. The sound and formidable name “Stalin Line” was invented by the western press.

Construction the Stalin Line on the territory of Belarus

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Construction took place in 1932-1935 on the territory of present-day Belarus. It was the most difficult period for the country. There was no food, transport, materials and even clothing for the population. So the construction itself was a feat. The Minsk Fortification Complex included 327 buildings or bunkers. Only six fortifications have been restored, and now they are part of various museum complexes. Two fully restored bunkers are now on the territory of the Stalin Line Museum.

Now, almost a hundred years later, we understand that the construction of the fortification system was a rather controversial idea. The borders of the USSR moved westwards in 1939, and the Stalin Line found itself in the rear. By the end of the 30s, in terms of engineering, it had already outdated and was in need of modernisation. As a result, this system of fortifications did not play a significant role in the Great Patriotic War although the employees of the museum complex will argue with you on this issue. Their arguments are as follows: the  fortification system along the border was designed to delay the enemy's advance, to inflict maximum losses and thus to buy time to mobilize their army. Yes, the Stalin Line did not detain the Germans during the Great Patriotic War, but there were still local battles, and the destruction of many bunkers is good evidence to this fact. And let's be honest, in the 30s the borders were going to be defended from an attack by Poland, not Germany.

Interest in the Stalin Line in the XXI century

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We, the people of the 21st century, are interested in the Stalin Line from the educational point of view. Many tourists come here, including foreigners who are interested in military history. The number of visitors exceeded one million long ago! Everyone has the opportunity to feel the formidable artifacts of the Great Patriotic War, climb into trenches, dugouts and bunkers, as well as shoot blank cartridges from a "kalashnikov" or a rifle. Still, the main attraction for tourists is the opportunity to ride the T-34 tank. Everything is real here- the tanks growl, tear apart not very smooth roads with their caterpillars. And it is for sure that the feelings remain very strong inside the tank as well as is next to it. 

The museum also has an impressive exhibition of weapons and military equipment on four sites - from World War I to the present day. On an artificial reservoir you can see the unfolded pontoon crossing and the low engineering bridge, which was restored according to the pre-war drawings. Currently, the museum has over 170 large exhibits, not counting samples of small arms, military uniforms and ammunition, and various documents.

The battles of the Great Patriotic War are regularly reconstructed on the Stalin Line. For example, Operation Bagration, the Battle of Stalingrad. To get to such an event is a great luck.

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