Aurora shines with novelty after the repair. We will not shoot this year, the crew promises
It blows from the Gulf of Finland and the light rain turns into icy needles looking under the skin under the gusts of wind. Several boats sway on the steel-gray Neva, and on the embankment not far from the Peter and Paul Fortress, tourists take pictures with a couple in costumes from the time of Peter the Great.
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A little further on, the Red Guards walk with a flint over their shoulder and joke with the ladies heading for a tour of Aurora.
There is already a decent queue on the sidewalk in front of the cruiser. Although Russia introduced the Day of National Unity instead of celebrating the Great October Socialist Revolution, there is still great interest in the most famous symbol of the revolution. Tourists obediently wait in front of the cash register and watch cadets from the nearby Nachimov School of Naval Officers file a marching step. In case the uniforms enchant someone, a mobile booth of army recruiters is parked here.
"Aurora is our revolutionary symbol," explains Inna, in her 60s, who guides tourists on board. "We have a lot of people here today. Already in the morning there was a group of communists, more than four hundred. And tourists travel from all over the world. Everyone here wants to meet history, "he explains, as more and more tourists flow on board through the safety frames.
Admission to Aurora costs four hundred rubles, foreigners pay six hundred (about 225 crowns). If you love history and naval battles, you will not regret that money. The one hundred and twenty-seven meters long cruiser has undergone a major overhaul, during which it repaired its hull at the Kronstadt docks, reconstructed the decks, laid new cables and installed new fire systems and dozens of cameras. It cost more than 850 million rubles (about 319 million crowns).
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"Aurora before and after the repair?" That's a big difference, "explains Inna. "It's like a painting: if you don't restore it, you won't see anything. It is dark and dull. Aurora is in great shape now. They did something a little different than before, but I think it's in great condition, "says the lady, who has been living as a guide to St. Petersburg for years.
The biggest difference is in the exposure. Today, Aurora is not a museum of the revolution, but of the fame of the Russian navy. One cabin is dedicated to the Battle of Cushima, where the Russians in 1905 suffered a crushing defeat by the Japanese. Aurora managed to break through and the crew was then interned in the Philippines. Inna adds with malicious joy that while Aurora shines with novelty, the Japanese have partially buried their ship from Cushima named Mikasa, so it rots from below.
In the next cabin are photos and artifacts from World War II. The revolutionary cruiser was severely damaged by German aircraft at the time. To prevent him from tipping over on his side, the crew "sat" him on the bottom.
The cannons of Aurora were then attached to the armored train by the Soviet army, from which they fired on Nazi soldiers besieging the starving Leningrad, as today's St. Petersburg was called.
"I'm worried about Aurora… She needs to stay in St. Petersburg as long as possible," said Pavel Dybenko, the Bolshevik chief among the Baltic Fleet sailors, three days before Lenin's coup. He told the crew not to obey the orders of the Provisional Government and to sail to the Germans.
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The sailors represented the most radical component of the army and the largest armed force on the Bolshevik side.
The exhibition shows how the Aurora crew shot the captain during the February Revolution and the Red Sailors took control of the vessel. The Secretary of Defense and the Admirals could order as they pleased, but if the sailors did not want to, no one forced them to obey.
The irony of fate is that some of them disappeared twenty years later in the clutches of the Stalinist purges.
Where is the truth?
Of course, the 152mm cannon on the bow, which was supposed to give a signal to the attack on the Winter Palace a hundred years ago, enjoys the greatest attention of tourists. Taking pictures at the famous cannon is a must. However, the explanatory notes write with a blank bullet in a reserved way - rather as one of the myths that have accumulated over the years during the Great October Revolution. Although the crew probably fired a hundred years ago, it probably had nothing to do with the arrest of the Provisional Government.
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"We still don't know the whole story. They kept a lot of things. We had our eyes closed and only now are they opening up to us, "says Inna. "We already know that no attack on the Winter Palace took place. At least not as we were shown. We all know this from Eisenstein's film Okťabr, where people climb to the gates of the Winter Palace. But nothing like this has ever happened, "recalls Inna's feature film, which the genius of Soviet cinema made ten years after the revolution.
There will be no shooting from Aurora this year. A laser show with a revolutionary theme is taking place on the embankment in front of the cruiser these days, but a major reconstruction of the Bolshevik coup is not going.
Alexander, who, in a red sailor costume, walks along the waterfront, does not intend to commemorate the Great Socialist Revolution in October: "For me, Aurora is above all a symbol of the fame of the Russian navy. In the first place the Russo-Japanese War and then the Great Patriotic War. And then there's the blind shot on the Winter Palace. "