The City of Saint Petersburg, founded by the czar Peter the Great at the start of the 18th century, was conceived as “an open window” through Russia to Europe in the cultural and commercial scopes. In its construction many notable architects from the old continent created a splendid city of extraordinary beauty, and it was the empire’s capital for two centuries. After winning the Revolution of October it was changed to Petrograd, in a childish attempt to suppress the mystical tinge of its name. Upon the death of the most conspicuous Bolshevik leader it was called Leningrad, and it was later was changed to its original name of Saint Petersburg on September 8th 1991 with the fall of the Iron Curtain.
During World War II the most atrocious incident of the entire conflict happened in Leningrad. The siege of the city by the German army lasted nearly nine-hundred days with hunger, pain and agony from 1941 to 1944. Pledging not to abandon the eastern front, Hitler sent hundreds of thousands of Germans (as well as soldiers from other nations, including Spaniards and Finnish) to a frightful death, cold temperatures lower than minus forty degrees Celsius, lack of supplies and food, and ammunition. Among the Petersburgians mortality came to one out of every two people: approximately one million two-hundred thousand people died, of a population of barely three million.
After so much noise and suffering, with an admirable strength, the population slowly recovered their city, and with it, their love for life. Heirs to a tragic past – not only to the events mentioned above, but to the omnipresent boot of the communist regime – the current citizens of Saint Petersburg appreciate peace and recollection. That is why on Yelagin Island – bathed in the abundant Neva River in the enormous Leisure Park – the exhibit was on display in an almost bucolic retreat, among summer vegetation, clear waters and the whispering of birds. Whoever encountered these enormous tired men, surrounded by the gentle calm of the area, found in them an untold meaning: the peace of our silences.