During World War II, between October and November 1941, Nazi German troops arrived near Moscow’s Soviet city. Part of the Soviet government fled to the city of Kuibyshev, and part of it took refuge in the Mayakovskaya metro station. The people of the city grabbed goods and fled. The factories were removed from the city as soon as possible. At this time, the government had to do something sensible to uplift the morale of the people.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin made a decisive decision here. The decision was made to hold the Bolshevik Revolution celebrations in Red Square, as usual, on November 7. It was a great event that raised the spirits of the people of Moscow. 28,500 Red Army personnel were involved, and they marched straight from Red Square to the battlefront.
Anyone who has seen this military parade’s photographs will naturally think that Red Square existed even during the war, but that is not accurate. Although it appeared to be completely open on November 7, it did not remain open during the other days of the war near Moscow.
The center of the Soviet regime was the Moscow Kremlin. Therefore, the Soviet authorities wanted to prevent airstrikes on the Kremlin as much as possible. They used various tactics. Red Square has also changed accordingly.
Hiding the Kremlin
During the war, the first focus on hiding the Kremlin from view from high in the sky was even before the German invasion. Commander of the Kremlin Nikolay Spiridonov commented, within days of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Spiridonov presented his final plan.
There were two major challenges he faced. One was to prevent the Kremlin from appearing in the sky above. The other is to limit diving attacks by bombers to targeting buildings within the Kremlin.
The Kremlin is part of a visible triangular wall. The length of that wall is a little over two kilometers. It also has 20 towers, which are significantly higher than the wall. Besides, some of the cathedrals and other buildings in the Kremlin are visible. Also, Red Square on one side of the Kremlin is a blank space.
With all this, the task of hiding the Kremlin was entrusted to the famous soviet architect of the era, Boris Iofan. His idea was to paint the Kremlin’s main highlands thinking appearance as if they were connected to the surrounding area. The clock tower of Ivan Grozny, stars of the Kremlin and above the Cathedral, covered. They were then painted to blend with the environment. The main towers looked like apartments, and the streets were painted on the Kremlin wall.
Lenin’s Mausoleum was also covered and looked like a house made of wood. Lenin’s body was removed from Moscow on July 3, 1941. The tomb was covered almost during the war. Lenin’s body was also brought back to Moscow in 1945. Fake buildings were erected to cover the open space of Red Square. They were removed before the parade on November 7, 1941, and the forged buildings were rebuilt after the parade.
Soviet reconnaissance aircraft observed the city from an altitude of 1,000 meters and realized that their covert tactics had succeeded. The Soviet pilots felt that it would be difficult for German pilots to find the Kremlin.
However, if the German planes had landed, there would have been some space to observe these hideouts. To prevent that, German planes had to be prevented from landing. To this end, the air defense system in Moscow was strengthened. So, it was not easy for the German planes to land without being hit hard. The result was that German planes arrived at Moscow from more than a kilometer above or at night.
On the night of August 21-22, the first German bomber struck Moscow. The Kremlin had not finished hiding that day. A large bomb pierces the roof of the Great Kremlin and strikes St. George’s Hall. But, miraculously, it did not explode.
In general, the Moscow Kremlin defended itself against airstrikes. There were 141 airstrikes on Moscow during the war, but the Kremlin was bombed only eight times. The Kremlin, as well as certain places clearly visible from the air, as well as potential targets such as factories, were hidden from view. This made the German airstrikes on Moscow less successful than expected.