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The Stalingrad Madonna

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Zoya, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. Zoya

    Zoya Partisan

    This is something I read about in Beeovor's book Stalingrad, which really moved me...

    The Stalingrad Madonna was drawn by a Wehrmacht Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Kurt Reuber, on the back of a map, to celebrate Christmas outside Stalingrad, 1942. In his last letter home, Reuber wrote:

    "Christmas week has come and gone. It has been a week of watching and waiting, of deliberate resignation and confidence. The days were filled with the noise of battle and there were many wounded to be attended to. I wondered for a long while what I should paint, and in the end I decided on a Madonna, or mother and child. I have turned my hole in the frozen mud into a studio. The space is too small for me to be able to see the picture properly, so I climb on to a stool and look down at it from above, to get the perspective right. Everything is repeatedly knocked over, and my pencils vanish into the mud. There is nothing to lean my big picture of the madonna against, except a sloping, home-made table past which I can just manage to squeeze. There are no proper materials and I have used a Russian map for paper. But I wish I could tell you how absorbed I have been painting my madonna, and how much it means to me."

    "The picture looks like this: the mother's head and the child's lean toward each other, and a large cloak enfolds them both. It is intended to symbolize 'security' and 'mother love.' I remembered the words of St.John: light, life, and love. What more can I add? I wanted to suggest these three things in the homely and common vision of a mother with her child and the security that they represent. When we opened the 'Christmas Door', as we used to do on other Christmases (only now it was the wooden door of our dug-out), my comrades stood spellbound and reverent, silent before the picture that hung on the clay wall. A lamp was burning on a board stuck into the clay beneath the picture. Our celebrations in the shelter were dominated by this picture, and it was with full hearts that my comrades read the words: light, life and love."

    "I spent Christmas evening with the other doctors and the sick. The Commanding Officer had presented the letter with his last bottle of Champagne. We raised our mugs and drank to those we love, but before we had had a chance to taste the wine we had to throw ourselves flat on the ground as a stick of bombs fell outside. I seized my doctor's bag and ran to the scene of the explosions, where there were dead and wounded. My shelter with its lovely Christmas decorations became a dressing station. One of the dying men had been hit in the head and there was nothing more I could do for him. He had been with us at our celebration, and had only that moment left to go on duty, but before he went he had said: 'I'll finish the carol with first. O du Frohliche!" A few moments later he was dead. There was plenty of hard and sad work to do in our Christmas shelter. It is late now, but it is Christmas night still. And so much sadness everywhere."

    And the picture...

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    deadb_tch likes this.
  2. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    Hi Zoya,

    The Stalingrad Madonna is now located in an old church in central Berlin i can't remember the name off the top of my head !!! but i'm sure someone will.

    Most of the Stalingrad vets i have contacted have sent me a postcard of it , it is still something that is important to them even now !!

    Paul
     
  3. Zoya

    Zoya Partisan

  4. Korps Steiner

    Korps Steiner Senior Member

    I.ve see the one in Berlin and in Volgograd but not in Coventry !!! ;)

    Not that i've got anything against the Midlands !!!!

    Paul
     
  5. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    dbf likes this.
  6. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Saw it earlier this year, it is in the "new church" go in the door and it is on the right side wall.

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