Exclusive online exhibition "Russia's Hero Cities": in memory of Janet Treloar

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In honor of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and in memory of Janet Treloar, the Russian Culture House, together with the Westminster Russia Forumis opening an exclusive online exhibition "Russia's Hero Cities".

Janet Treloar (1940-2019) was a British watercolour artist, a member of the Royal society of watercolourists, and a graduate of the University of Oxford.

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The artist decided to create a series of paintings dedicated to the Second world war, being firmly convinced of the invaluable role of the Soviet people in the victory over Nazism. Her beliefs were based on historical titles obtained through years of training and her own research.

In December 2004, Janet came to Russia to begin painting the war cycle in places that were at the epicenter of the terrible period of 1941-1945. Janet visited the Piskarevsky memorial cemetery in St. Petersburg-the burial place of the victims of the blockade. In Moscow she saw the ice trenches and dugouts preserved in the war memorial. In Volgograd Janet visited Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex. Often the frost in St. Petersburg and Moscow turned watercolors into ice on paper. After melting in the heat, the crystals formed a special pattern on the sheets, which gave Janet's works a unique look. In Volgograd, the artist lowered several pages of her album into the water of the Volga. She wanted the works to carry a part of the river, which was filled with blood that was shed by Russian soldiers and civilians who defended their homeland. Janet was sure that this gave a special strength and depth to her paintings.

Janet Treloar has always been convinced that Europe should remember who it owes its victory over Nazism. The artist considered it her duty to remind about the heroic and sacrificial fortitude of the Russian people.

Russia's Hero Cities - Moscow

On the night of 5th July 1941 Adolf Hitler told his close associates: "Moscow must disappear from the face of the earth."

In the early autumn of 1941 a half-million civilians, mainly women, took part in digging trenches and building tank traps around Moscow. In October and November the Germans launched major offensives against Moscow involving more than 70 divisions or a total of 1.8 million troops.

During the Battle of Moscow the Russian armies, like Hitler's, suffered heavy losses. Throughout the conflict almost 75% of wounded Russian soldiers were returned to the army in the field. During the whole war the Russians lost some 27 million soldiers and civilians killed.

On the morning of 6 December 1941 the forces of the Western Front launched a counter offensive. The battle developed on a grand scale and its success was of tremendous importance as the strike forces of Hitler's Army Group Centre suffered a severe defeat and began retreating to the west.

The Battle of Moscow delivered the first powerful political and military blow at Germany.

Historical notes by Albert Axell

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Russia's Hero Cities - Leningrad

The blockade of Leningrad, a city of three million people, began on 8 September 1941 and lasted approximately 900 days. Hunger... cold... bullets... bombs. These were Hitler's troops.

Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Russia's second biggest city, was Hitler's chief objective on the northern flank. In July the Germanns made their first attempt to capture the city but it was foiled by stubborn resistance.

Early in September 1941 Nazi soldiers made an all-out attack, preceeded by a ferocious artillery bombardment and air attacks on the city. The Nazis battered Leningrad from all sides.

On November 22, when the ice on Lake Ladoga was only 13 cm thick, the first trucks began to carry provisions to the besieged city along the "Ice Road of Life".

In January 1943 the Russian forces breached the blockade of Leningrad.

Historical notes by Albert Axell

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Russia's Hero Cities - Stalingrad

Late in August 1942 the Nazis forced their way to the Volga River north of Stalingrad (now Volgograd). Hitler attached enormous strategic importance to Stalingrad, a hub of industry and key rail centre.

The battle on the Volga lasted more than six months from the summer of 1942 to February 1943. At times more than two million men were involved on both sides.

At first, under heavy pressure from the advancing Nazi armies the Russian forces withdrew from the outer ring of defences to the inner ring in the city. But the defenders had halted the German drive, both on the Volga and in the Caucasus.

On November 19 the Russians launched their counter-offensive. By December 1942 huge Russian forces north and south of the city joined up, enclosing several hundred thousand enemy officers and men in a steel trap.

Many historians believe the Volga Battle was the greatest of all the battles fought in the Second World War. But the once proud city on the Volga had been reduced to a heap of rubble.

Historical notes by Albert Axell

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