Russia shuts down a Museum holding a WWII exhibition about US and British involvement

It is reported that Federal Security Service in Russia has stopped a World War II exhibition in Yekaterinburg. The exhibition organisers planned to display photographs and other memorabilia of WWII. The items to be displayed were from the Imperial War Museum in London.

The acting British consul general, Jon Sharp, was to give a speech at the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition, at the Metenkov House Museum, aimed to display pictures of British and American troops from WWII.

In an abrupt announcement, the museum said that the exhibition had been postponed, a day before the it was due to open. The reason the museum gave for the cancellation of the exhibition was some kind of technical problem. For this reason, museum organisers said, that museum is being temporarily shut down for a while.

Apparently, this all seemed pretty normal, but a report in a pro-government newspaper about the cancellation raised a few eyebrows. The report said that the exhibition was cancelled by the FSB, on direct orders from the Kremlin. It continued that the reason for the closure was said to be the new exhibition ‘Triumph and Tragedy: The Allies during the Second World War’. The newspaper later  apologised for the report, saying that it had come from an unidentified source. The staff of the museum hesitated commenting on the closure of the museum.

For many, this did not come as a surprise, especially in the light of the recent developments between Russia and the West. Vladimir Putin had said just a few weeks ago that the West is trying to falsify the events of WWII. He also pointed towards Ukraine and Poland, calling their attempts at justifying Nazi crimes in the War a shameful act. He showed his determination to give every possible support to Russia’s veterans, and due respect to its fallen in the Second World War.

More recently, the British Prime Minister,  David Cameron, has decided not to attend the 9th of May commemoration ceremony in Moscow. A number of European Union leaders have joined Mr Cameron in protest against what they allege is Russia’s role in the unrest in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

While promoting the exhibition, which was jointly organised by the US and British consulates, the British embassy promised that exhibition would show some facts about WWII that are rarely seen in Russia. A spokesman for the British embassy, Mr. Mikhail Menshikov, denied having any knowledge of FSB involvement in the closure of the museum. He also confirmed that a number of British and American officials were to have attended the opening ceremony. He promised that British embassy, in collaboration with American officials, would try either to relocate or to reschedule the exhibition. He urged that the current generation should know and appreciate the role of the Allies in the war against Nazism, The Telegraph reports.

The United States consulate in Yekaterinburg also confirmed receiving a notification from the museum, which stated that due to a technical problem museum is unable to hold the exhibition.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE