The fate of the obelisk to Nicholas II in Kaluga

PHOTO: The obelisk erected in memory of the visit of Emperor Nicholas II to Kaluga
in 1904, was erected in 1908, and demolished by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s.

By the late spring of 1904, the Russo-Japanese War was already in full swing. In an effort to boost morale, Emperor Nicholas II personally went to Kaluga to inspect the garrison.

The Emperor arrived on the Imperial Train in Kaluga on 20th (O.S. 7) May 1904, accompanied by his brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, and their uncle Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.

Upon arrival, the Emperor stepped off the Imperial Train and mounted a horse given to him by the Kaluga military. Accompanied by the Grand Dukes and his retinue, they proceeded to the town’s military field, where the Kaluga garrison had assembled for inspection, before being sent to defend Russia during the Russo-Japanese War. The garrison included the 9th Ingermanland Infantry Regiment, the 10th Newlingermanland Infantry Regiment and the 31st Cavlary Artillery Brigade.

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II arrives on the Imperial Train
in Kaluga on 20th (O.S. 7) May 1904

Nicholas II headed for the line of troops who awaited him. The commander of the division presented the Emperor with his combat report, the troops stood at attention, music played, and the military slowly lowered their banners in front of their Sovereign. Nicholas followed the front line with his retinue and greeted each military unit separately. The orchestra played the Imperial anthem God, Save the Tsar!, which prompted enthusiastic shouts of “Hurrah!” from the regiments.

The Emperor then stood in front of the pavilion, at which point the troops marched past in front of him in a ceremonial march. Then the officers were gathered, the Sovereign questioned those who had already participated in the war. After that he granted each with an icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and made a parting speech to the troops.

The tsar wrote in his diary that night: “We arrived at a field near Kaluga, where the 9th Ingermanland Infantry Regiments, the 10th Newermanland Regiments, the 31st Cavlary Artillery Brigade. and two flying artillery regiments were lined up. Due of the rains over the past few days, the field had turned into a swamp. Despite this, it did not deter the troops.”

PHOTOS: Emperor Nicholas II, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, and Grand Duke
Sergei Alexandrovich, leave the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kaluga

In 1907, Kaluga Governor Alexander Alexandrovich Ofrosimov proposed to erect a monument- an obelisk in honour of this event. The laying took place on 29th June 1907, the unveiling and consecration was held three days later on 30th July 1908. The monument to Nicholas II was the first monument to appear in the Kaluga region.

The fourteen-meter obelisk was made of granite blocks, and crowned with a bronze double-headed eagle made of bronze by S.A. Pozhiltsov). The pedestal featured a commemorative plaque, which included the names of the Kaluga officers who participated in the Russo-Japanese War. Many of these men died during the war, therefore, the monument became a memorial to those Kaluga officers and soldiers who perished in 1904-1905. The composition was complemented by two cast-iron cannons at the base.

The obelisk was demolished by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s, who regarded the monument as a reminder of Tsarism.

The idea of restoring the obelisk for the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 2013 was considered, but it was not implemented. Instead, a bust of Nicholas II was installed in the Central Park of Culture and Leisure in Kaluga on July 31, 2016.

© Paul Gilbert. 17 April 2021

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