To commemorate the 60th Victory anniversary in World War II, the exhibits are materialized landmarks of the thousand-year long Russian military history from princes' guards of the feudal times to the 20th century army, with its sophisticated weaponry. It shows what the army did for its country in trials and tribulations. Coming as a chronicle of glorious victories, the exposition also offers a portrait gallery of valiant heroes.
Ancient Russian life was a sequence of wars. Princes' guards came as this country's first contract soldiers. Townsmen's and peasant militia joined these crack troops in the hour of danger. Russians were waging permanent wars on the Pecheneg and Cuman-bellicose nomads of the Southeast European plains-in the 10th century through the 12th. Swedish knights ventured on a crusade against Russia in 1240 to be routed by Prince Alexander Nevsky's force. The year 1480 brought an even more glorious victory as Russia cast off the Tartar yoke after 250 bleak and degrading years. That was during the reign of Grand Duke Ivan III of Muscovy, the time when Moscow developed into the capital of a centralized state.
Emperor Peter the Great (1672-1725) turned over a new leaf in Russian martial life as he introduced a pioneer military doctrine. It laid the stress on soldier drill, tactical flexibility and smooth teamwork-all that spectacularly reducing war casualties in victorious breakthroughs.
Among the most interesting exhibits is a map of the Abattis Border-a formidable avant-garde defense line, longer than a thousand kilometers, of the 16th and 17th centuries. No less spectacular are a great many other exhibits. Arousing the greatest emotional response are an authentic medieval mailcoat, an arrangement of cuirassiers' helmets, the Ryazan militia banner of the Napoleonic War of 1812, small crosses the pious soldiers wore on their chest, icons of saints renowned for martial valor in their earthly life-St. George and St. Alexander Nevsky, the personal standard of General Mikhail Skobelev (1843-1882), Russo-Turkish War hero, and blood-stained IDs of a Russian WWII soldier.