Victory Memorial to Soviet Army in Riga, Latvia

Victory Memorial to Soviet Army

Erected in 1985 to commemorate the Soviet Army’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, the Victory Memorial to Soviet Army is one of Riga’s most controversial monuments.

The memorial complex dominates the park with its towering 249 foot (76 meters tall) obelisk. It is adorned with five golden stars that symbolize the five years of WWII. On either side of the obelisk are bronze statues of Mother Motherland and a band of three soldiers.

The monument can be found in the city park created in 1909 when Latvia was part of the Russian Empire. The park’s opening ceremony was attended by Tsar Nicholas II. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Latvia declared independence. However, it wasn’t until after Latvia defeated the West Russian Volunteer Army in 1919 that Latvia was recognized as a new nation. In honor of this triumph, the park was renamed Victory Park in 1923.

The Victory Memorial to Soviet Army has been controversial as it is seen as a symbol of the Soviet re-occupation of Latvia during WWII. In 1997, the monument was targeted by members of a Latvian ua-nationalist group and was unsuccessfully bombed.

There are ongoing discussions about removing the monument and re-designing Victory Park.