May 01, 2010

Defending Sevastopol



Sevastopol is a city of monuments and squares. Dour statues of Admirals Nakhimov, Lazarev and Ushakov dominate the squares named for them. There are, in fact, over 1,400 monuments in this naval city. But there is no monument to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children who died in Sevastopol during the first (1854-1855) or second (1941-1942) defenses of the city, or the many who died digging up unexploded munitions since then.

This blank spot in the city’s history is a central theme in Vladislav Krapivin’s novel, Three from the Carronade Square, written in the 1970s and recently made into a television miniseries. The series has ignited local debate about the need for a monument. But first the fictional Carronade Square must be found.

The most likely candidate is Sixth Bastion (Shestaya Bastionnaya), a small street in the old city. During the Great Patriotic War, the headquarters for Sevastopol’s defense forces and a cannon battery were located not far from here. Indeed, the slope of the hill resembles the one described in the story. The remains of fortress walls rise up on the left. Shabby stone steps plummet down the slope. The place is empty, calm and flooded with sunlight. The ground is paved with old cobblestones; dry, pointed grass grows up between the stones; garbage from nearby houses is scattered about (the navy has long since stopped picking it up); troops of stray cats pace the yards; dogs gather near marketplaces.


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