Written by By Timothy Carone, CNN Moscow, Russia CNN Written by Timothy Carone, CNN Moscow, Russia
In 1917, when the Great Patriotic War against Germany broke out, the group of young Russians who followed the Red Army around the battlefield during the war’s first months were a primary focus of Russian propaganda.
Their names were Bloknov and Hislopov — “jack and helper” — the name they were to adopt after the war as a mark of their status.
In line with Soviet propaganda, the fictional group was a symbol of what a modern Russia should be — people of great enthusiasm and dedication to the cause, and their own ideas.
But in modern-day Russia, it’s a different story.
See inside the futuristic, futuristic street that transformed Moscow, Russia CNN Travel took a trip down the city’s ever-changing Oktyabrskaya Avenue. Here, CNN tells the stories of some of the famed and now endangered street art, buildings and architecture.
“Such people have no place today,” writes Aleksandr Maksakovsky, curator of the original activist group, in his piece on the organization’s 100th anniversary
“They were written into history so that we would get used to stereotypes about what it means to be a Russian. They reflected a certain world view that we now have to challenge,” he explains.
Bloknov and Hislopov were to have united Russia in an essential way, and Russia remains fond of the group that brought it to its knees. But, in a way, history repeats itself.
A pedestrian crosses Oktyabrskaya Avenue in central Moscow. Credit: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
And yet, those traits are also traits that can scare young Russians today.
On New Year’s Eve, when the Russian capital was thrown into chaos and danger by a mob of punk rockers, the defeated activists from the early 20th century were also a popular cause.
Or, at least, they were on social media.
Of the 25 activists who died trying to protect the city’s iconic metro station, the situation was very different a century ago: Some were shot, others killed or jailed for defying the law.
The great cold war
Bloknov and Hislopov were instrumental in one of the most defining moments of modern Russian history: the nation’s war against the former German Empire, which began in 1917 and continued for a devastating 11 years.
The 100th anniversary of Bloknov and Hislopov is being celebrated at Moscow’s Exhibition Center in Streltsy, the city’s garrison east of the city center.
A new exhibition is devoted to the group’s accomplishments. / Credit: Andrei Rastroshevsky/TASS via Getty Images
A tribute to Bloknov and Hislopov in a glitzy, ex-soviet-era pop-up hotel. Credit: Thomas Boyberg/TASS via Getty Images
The 100th anniversary of Bloknov and Hislopov is being celebrated in Russian museums and institutes. Following exhibition showcases, Bloknov and Hislopov, portrayed as extremely patriotic, are to be honored with an online encyclopedia and a new museum on the group’s centenary.
The group’s first member, Alexei Bloknov, was killed in the battle at Poti, Georgia, while the other 28 endured imprisonment, imprisonment and often death during the war.
Later, in the 1940s, of those 27 men and one woman, an additional 13 died in the occupation of the Crimea and on the frontline during the war with the Nazis.