Today I visited the National State Museum and the offices of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. The offices were closed because it’s the weekend, I’ll go back there on a weekday.

There was an exhibition in the museum on Kazakhstan’s contribution to the Second World War. It featured a display on women soldiers in the Red Army, it highlighted a 19 year old woman from Kazakhstan whose name I forgot. Apparently she was in a sniper regiment and she killed over 20 nazis before dying in 1943.

The Russian economy had been shattered by the fascist advance, so production was shifted to Kazakhstan, out of reach of the invaders. Our guide, Nauan, said that 9 in 10 bullets fired by the red army during the Great Patriotic War were manufactured in Kazakhstan.

There were other displays praising the actions of Kazakh soldiers in the Red Army. One told of the 28 soldiers who protected Moscow in 1941 while waiting for reinforcements. These were the ones whose memorial I walked through yesterday. Another display was about a group of 40 soldiers who stood their ground against 400 fascists with tanks. The 40 soldiers dug trenches and made improvised tank-busting bombs made up of grenades strapped together. Apparently they resisted for 8 hours before being overwhelmed.

These are similar to the actions portrayed in the Belarussian film ‘Fortress of War’. In the film, a group of Red Army soldiers and civilians barricade their garrison and hold out against the nazi forces for about a month. It’s not exactly a propaganda film, and I find it strange that it was made at all in modern Belarus, even under Lukashenko.

What I find curious is that the Great Patriotic War remains part of an official history which people are allowed to feel proud of. In that same official history the Soviet Union is attacked and criticised from every angle, but when it comes to the war, everyone closes ranks to praise Stalin and the actions of the Red Army.

The museum also had an accurate replica of Sputnik. I was impressed by that.

I’ve taken lots of photographs but I’m not going to upload them now because I’m using another student’s 3G connection and he has very strict data limits. I should get proper internet access by Tuesday. Hopefully.