On 9 May 1955, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Czechoslovakia, a memorial stele was unveiled with the graves of six fallen soldiers of the Red Army who died in the vicinity of Hradec Králové shortly before the end of WWII. The monument with the grave was placed on the side of the access road to the Kukleny cemetery. The monument was made by local sculptor Vladimír Mertlík (1911–1985). On the occa-sion of the tenth anniversary of the liberation, six bodies of the fallen Red Army soldiers were exhumed and buried in a common grave in Kukleny. Art historian Martina Vítková, based on a contemporary text in the Nové Hradecko newspaper, states the following about their identity: “Three men died of starvation and exhaustion during a death march in February. Two were captured in Plačice, shot during their escape and buried alive. The last one died accidentally on 1 June. We know only four names out of six: Alexei Ivanov, Nikolai Meysov, Gav-ril Barsov and Sergei N. Barishnikov.” As the 1980 article in the Nové Hradecko adds, Ivanov died on a death march on 28February 1945; Meysov and Barsov died while escaping from a death march on 2March, two un-known prisoners died on a death march on 25February in Kukleny, and Baryshnikov was accidentally shot on 1 June 1945.
While the traditional compositional scheme of the monument to the fallen Red Army soldiers was a figurative statue of a soldier, as was the case with the Pardubice monument by Josef Malejovský, Mertlík conceived the monument as a grave consisting of a three-part stele on
a pedestal – the remains of the soldiers are actually buried here. In the lower part of the stele, there is a bronze relief of a bending girl carrying a mourning wreath; in the middle conical part, there is a relief of the symbol of the Communist Party and the text “We bow before the memory of the fallen heroes of the Red Army, 1945”. The upper part consists of a five-pointed star in relief. According to art historian Lucie Rychnovská, “the monument combines pre-war funerary iconography with traditional socialist symbolism.”
The relief of a mourning girl is unusual in the case of monuments to the fallen Red Army soldiers. However, it used to be quite common in memorials to the fallen of WWI. Monuments to the Red Army often included statues or sculptures of Red Army soldiers, such as
the monument in nearby Praskačka (a sandstone statue), in Mimoň, Žlutice, Chabařovice, Olšanské cemeteries in Prague, Moravské náměstí square in Brno, Adamov, and elsewhere (metal sculptures). Another type of monument was an abstract stele, often accompanied or direct-ly formed by a five-pointed star, such as the pyramidal monument in Brno-Královo Pole, the monuments in Sobotka and Poříčí nad Sázavou, the unusual monument in Vrčeň in
the Pilsen region consisting of several prisms with the motif of an Orthodox cross and a
five-pointed star on top, or the monuments in Holasice, Lanškroun, etc. The conception of
the monument in Hradec Králové refers to traditional monuments to the fallen since the 19th century, where the suffering of the survivors, girls or mothers, or the mourning of the fallen by a surviving soldier – a comrade – was emphasized.
This was not the first monument to the Red Army in Hradec Králové. In 1948, a monument to the Red Army by sculptor Kulhavý was unveiled in the cemetery in Pouchov, which takes
the form of a regular prismatic stele with an enlarged upper part and a communist five-pointed star on top. More monuments to Red Army fallen soldiers were unveiled later. One, in the form of an unworked conical stone stele with a red star, was unveiled in the Malšovice forest cemetery on 5 November 1972.
The tomb of Red Army soldiers is an immovable cultural heritage site, reg. on the Central List of Cultural Mon-uments of the Czech Republic, no. 39304/6-4914.
Ve vstupní části kuklenského hřbitova..., Nové Hradecko, roč. XXII, č. 8, 19. února 1989, s. 2
Ladislav Zikmund-Lender, Sasanky a plavci: Umění ve veřejném prostoru Hradce Králové 1948—1989, Hradec Králové 2015
Martina Vítková, Padlým Rudoarmějcům, on-line: http://7cernychkominiku.blogspot.com/2013/07/pamatnikpadlym-rudoarmejcum-kukleny.html
Lucie Rychnová, Marta Daňková, Pomník padlým Rudoarmějcům, on-line: https://sochyamesta.cz/zaznam/18184
Pomník šesti Rudoarmějců, on-line: https://pamatkovykatalog.cz/pomnik-sesti-rudoarmejcu-12605025