The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition “Yasnaya Polyana: War and Peace”

Tolstaya-EseninaMay 8 - June 28, 2015
Yasnaya Polyana Gallery

May 7, 2015 at 15:00 in the Yasnaya Polyana Gallery there will be the opening of the exhibition “Yasnaya Polyana: War and Peace.” The exhibition will include photographs of Yasnaya Polyana during World War II and contemporary photos of the estate. Visitors can see the Soviet and German war equipment, pieces of uniforms, and personal articles that belonged to soldiers. The exhibition will include an edition of Leo Tolstoy’s book War and Peace published in 1941. At the exhibition opening there will also be a presentation of Nikolay Steshchenko-Frolov’s book, “Lament about the Creation of the World.”


The main goal of the exhibition is to show, using Yasnaya Polyana as the example, how horrible war is, its destruction and death, and how important it is to try to keep the peace.

Nikolay Steshchenko-Frolov’s book “A Lament About the Creation of the World,” which the author himself will present, tells about how the museum pieces of the Tolstoy Estate were saved, and how the words of the author inspired in soldiers hope and faith during the worst days of the war.

The exhibition was created by the Yasnaya Polyana Museum, the Museum of the Defense of Tula, the Museum of History of the Yasnaya Polyana Secondary School, the “Hope” group of the “Searcher” young people’s search center.

From the history of the museum:

In 1941 as the Russian forces retreated and the front line drew ever closer to Tula Region, it was decided to evacuate the museum.  September 9, 1941 the valuables from the Tolstoy house (the library, Tolstoy’s personal things, pictures, clothing, dishes) were sent to Tomsk by two trains. The cellars of the Literary Museum (the Kuzminsky House) and the Leo Tolstoy House were converted into bomb shelters. The headquarters of a division of troops was located in the Volkonsky House. Nonetheless, the museum continued to function. Right up to the last day of Soviet troops’ presence at Yasnaya Polyana, employees of the museum took a group of Red Army soldiers on an excursion. A comment left on October 14, 1941 in the visitors’ book: “I, Ivan Matveevich Yakovlev, an engineer by education, visited this house during the war . . . I wish though it cost me my life to preserve this great place memorializing L.N. Tolstoy. So, for Tolstoy!” V. Shklovsky wrote at that time: “Yasnaya Polyana is now not a museum. It is the homeland of our heart and our mind.”

Yasnaya Polyana was under occupation by the Nazis for a month and a half. In the Literary Museum, the Nazis set up a hospital. The soldiers heated the stove with the remaining furniture in the house and with archival documents, and all the walls were written on.  Next to Tolstoy’s grave was a mass burial site of those who died in the German hospital. As they were retreating, the Nazis lit fires in the rooms of the Tolstoy House in an attempt to destroy it, and only thanks to the decisive actions of the museum employees and local residents the fire was extinguished. Yasnaya Polyana was liberated December 14, 1941, and by May of the next year S.A. Tolstaya-Esenina (the writer’s grand-daughter, at that time the museum’s director) was celebrating the re-opening of the memorial museum.

About the author:

Nikolay Egorovich Steshchenko-Frolov was born in a family of construction workers in the city of Glukhov in the Sumy Region (Ukraine). He lived and worked in Novomoskovsk, beginning at a factory, then became a correspondent for the city newspaper.

In 1971, he graduated from the Journalism Faculty of Moscow State University and moved to Tula. Here he worked for the regional newspaper “Kommunar,” and then for the Prioksky book publisher. He was the executive editor for the literary journal “Yasnaya Polyana.” He is the author of books for children and youths and of stories for adult readers. N.E. Steshchenko-Frolov is a member of the Union of Journalists and of the Union of Writers of Russia.

The exhibition will be open from Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 to 18:00. The cost of a ticket without a guided tour is free for those up to 18 years of age; for discount categories of tickets, 15 rubles; and 30 rubles for a normal ticket. The cost of ticket with a guided tour: 30 rubles for discount tickets and persons up to 18 years of age; 45 rubles for a full ticket.

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