Wall of Grief, Promise for the Future

Plan for the Wall of Grief

A miniature model of the intended design for the Wall of Grief.

The newest step towards state recognition of its past lies in the prospect of “the Wall of Grief” project scheduled to open in October 30th, 2017. Planned to be engineered in the center of Moscow between the crossing of Academician Sakharov prospect and the Garden Ring avenue, the Wall of Grief Memorial will mark the second state constructed memorial of terror victims. The winning design, won by sculptor Georgy Frangulyan, was one of over 300 submissions sent in by a national memorial competition (1). His unique design features a large bronze relief of human figures titled by the phrase “Never Again,” and is intended to be placed in a community park. The memorial’s strategic location next to a busy central street was deliberate: the memorial is to be seen and reflected consistently, serving as a constant reminder of the city’s unfortunate past.  

Design for Wall of Grief

Designed to be a large scale relief of the victims of Stalin's Great Terror, the project represents an attempted effort to combine the states and public perceptions of commemorating the past.

The push for the Wall of Grief project is exemplary of the government’s recent steps towards the mending the division between private and governmental narratives of Stalin’s terror. By nature of the submission competition, the memorial shows an attempt to reconcile state remembrance of the terror with the public’s perception of injustice. The head of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, is also quoted stressing the need to finance the memorial by both state and societal means (2). It is quite interesting to note President Putin’s ironic approval of the project given his praise of Stalin’s war might and his condemnation of negative historical press in classrooms. However, Putin has verbally committed to completing the project, stating it “is evidence of the maturity of society and government..to develop.” (3) While the majority of the projects execution is still in progress, the possibility of the government and Muscovites working together to reflect on an appropriate commemorative narrative seems promising.


  1. “Vladimir Putin’s Russia Sends Mixed Signals on Stalin-era Crimes.” NDTV Press, 20 Nov. 2015. http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/vladimir-putins-russia-sends-mixed-signals-on-stalin-era-crimes-1245500.
  2. “Scultptor Frangulyan Showed Developments by the Memorial ‘Wall of Grief’.” ArtRussia, 25 Aug. 2016. http://artrussia.ru/en/artnews/139.
  3. “Vladimir Putin’s Russia Sends Mixed Signals on Stalin-era Crimes.” NDTV Press, 20 Nov. 2015. http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/vladimir-putins-russia-sends-mixed-signals-on-stalin-era-crimes-1245500