Ahead of Victory Day and the 55th anniversary of the Sokol club, Russia’s oldest volunteer search organisation founded by Acron, Veliky Novgorod is hosting an exhibition of wartime works by prominent Soviet photographers. The event ‘To Remember. Archive Photos of the Great Patriotic War’ will show photographs taken in 1943–1945 by the photojournalists Yevgeny Khaldei and Dmitry Baltermants who made their mark in the history of the Russian and world photographic art.
Yevgeny Khaldei was unofficially called the chief photographer of the Great Patriotic War. His photograph ‘Raising the Soviet Flag over the Reichstag’ became a symbol of the defeat of Nazism. After the war, he ran the ‘Name Them’ column in the Ogoniok magazine, where he published his photographs of unknown people, which often helped many people find their dead or missing relatives.
Dmitry Baltermants, who worked as a war correspondent for Izvestia and other newspapers, became famous for his coverage of the construction of anti-tank fortifications near Moscow, defence, military operations in the Crimea, and the Battle of Stalingrad. Many of Baltermants’ photographs have gone down in the history of photography. One of them, ‘Grief’, was taken in Kerch in 1942 and was later described as the apotheosis of the tragedy of war. Another work by Baltermants, ‘Fireworks of Victory, Red Square, Moscow, 9 May’, became a symbol of the triumph of the Russian spirit. During the Khrushchev Thaw, Baltermants had personal exhibitions in London and New York, which brought him international fame.
The Sokol volunteer search club was founded in 1968 on the initiative of Acron’s methanol shop worker Nikolay Orlov, a living legend among Soviet volunteer searchers. The search party, led by chemists from Veliky Novgorod, gave rise to an organised volunteer search movement in the Soviet Union. It also led to the creation of the Dolina (Valley) regional search expedition, named after Orlov, who was called the Commandant of Death Valley, a place near Myasnoy Bor, where soldiers and commanders of the 2nd Shock Army died.
Since its inception, Sokol has located remains of thousands of Red Army soldiers and returned them to their families. The club’s volunteers have also found unique artefacts from the war, which are displayed in Acron’s corporate museum.
The exhibition is free of charge and is now open at Acron’s Cultural Centre at 22 A Lomonosov Street, Veliky Novgorod.