State Museum of the Defense of Moscow
3, Olympic Village, Moscow
Phones: +7 (499) 233-42-06, +7 (499) 233-42-96
Web site: http://gmom.ru
Witness the greatest battle of World War II. The State Museum of the Defense of Moscow is dedicated to the battle for Moscow and the heroic defenders of the capital. The exposition, created with genuine artefacts and original artistic solutions, helps visitors to understand what stopped the best military forces of the most powerful army of that time at the walls of Moscow. Visitors will feel as if they are leafing through the dramatic pages of the history of Russia, including information on the people’s volunteer army, the air defense, and the everyday life of Muscovites in 1941–1942.
At the entrance to the museum visitors can see a platform with an exposition of military machinery, representing the best examples of artillery pieces of the Great Patriotic War. The main exposition consists of 5 rooms and is arranged in such a way that the visitor seems to experience the hardships of war along with the participants of the Moscow battle, giving them a chance to see what moved those people at critical moments of the battle and understand how they managed to stop the most powerful army of that time at the walls of Moscow. The first room is dedicated to life in Moscow at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. Here visitors will learn about the everyday life behind the lines, the labor of Muscovites at plants and factories, the evacuation conditions and the fate of wartime children. The second room contains materials on the attempts to ward off air attacks on Moscow, including a Moscow air defense scheme, a barrage balloon, a model of the German Junkers-88 bomber, a 37-mm automatic anti-aircraft gun from 1939, and a genuine unexploded bomb weighing 250 kg that was dropped from a German bomber and then discovered in Bolshoy Kharitonevsky lane. The third room is dedicated to the defense period of the battle for Moscow, the largest scale battle of the Great Patriotic War. Here visitors can see a collection of weapons, uniforms, personal items and awards. In the fourth room is a chronicle of the Red Army’s counter-attack. The pièce de résistance among the exhibits is the weapons and military equipment. The display in the fifth room demonstrates the war route to Berlin of the troops that started their journey near Moscow. Awards of commanders and soldiers, as well as genuine items of everyday soldiers’ life, are collected here.
In October 1941, as the front line moved closer and closer to the capital, it was decided that a system of defense lines would be created, known as the “Moscow defense area”. In autumn of the same year, a defense line was built around Moscow next to the current Moscow Ring Road (MKAD). In 1979, it was decided that an exhibition would be arranged at one of those historical sites in memory of the 40th anniversary of the battle for Moscow. The exhibition marked the beginning of a long-lasting project: the Defense of Moscow State Museum, which opened to the public in 1981. Since then, a significant number of materials dedicated to the defense of Moscow and the defeat of the German troops in 1941–1942 has been amassed. Among them are the personal documents of those who took part in the defense of Moscow and their relatives, historical memoirs, diaries, letters, photographs and maps, souvenirs, lists of veterans, and newspapers of the World War II period. In 1986, the Numismatics collection was founded, counting more than 3,000 medals, orders, awards, and jubilee and commemorative coins. The Collection of Arms contains about 250 units, mainly of portable firearms. The museum contains not only famous rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and carbines, widely used during the World War II, but also rare samples of European, American, Canadian and Japanese weapons of the 19th and 20th centuries. The permanent exhibition was created in 1995 and was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
The building that houses the Moscow Defense Museum was built for the administration of the Olympic Games which were held in Moscow in 1980. More than 7 million people took part in the battle for Moscow. This fact is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest battle of World War II. More tank and motorized divisions were sent to conquer Moscow than to conquer France, Belgium and Holland all together. During the siege of Moscow, there was a decree on city’s blackout: it was forbidden to turn on the lights in apartments, houses and on the streets. It was so dark that people bumped into one other in the city streets, but this helped to confuse the German aircraft. Moreover, in order to disorient the enemy, fake city districts were constructed. For example, fake streets appeared on Red Square, the walls of houses were painted on the walls of the Kremlin, and the Mausoleum was camouflaged as a residential building with a gable roof.