Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

John Keegan in his book, "The Second World War," wrote: "By far the most grievous suffering among the combatant states was borne by the Soviet Union, which lost at least 7 million men in battle and a further 7 million civilians; most of the latter, Ukranians and White Russians in the majority, died as a result of deprivation, reprisal and forced labour."  (The US suffered 292,000 casualties, almost all military.)  So it is no wonder that there is a profusion of monuments commemorating aspects of the war in Moscow.  Located along the Kremlin Wall (behind), this grave site has the urns of ashes of 6 unidentified soldiers from 6 cities who died in the Second World War.  Barely visible in the above photo is an eternal flame. With its low altar against its forest backdrop, I see it as an attempt by an atheistic state to arouse religious feelings without being religious.  I'm not certain what symbolism, if any, they have in Russia, but I seem to remember that pines are the pagan metaphor for human souls.  It was distressing to see these in such a scraggly condition, like two-month-old Christmas trees.  In Soviet times it was de rigueur to stop at this place after the wedding ceremony to have pictures taken here. Sorry for the empty frame. I gave up after waiting an hour for a wedding party.

The Kremlin