The Barmaley Fountain

The Balmarey fountain

A picture of the fountain taken by Emmanuil Yevzerikhin on August 23, 1942, conveyed the devastation of the Battle of Stalingrad by juxtaposing a pastoral scene of children dancing around a playful crocodile and the city’s bombed-out, burning buildings in the background.

Officially named the Children’s Khorovod, literally “Children’s Round Dance”, the fountain initially installed in 1939 and was based-on a fairy-tale poem by Korney Chukovsky (1882-1969). The fountain was restored after World War II and was removed in the 1950s. A replica has been installed at the original site. Located where the original was situated before the war—in front of the train station—the new fountain helps people to remember the 40,000 residents of Stalingrad (now known as Volgograd) who died on August 23, 1942 (the same day the prior fountain was damaged). Another replica is situated near the Flour Mill. Both replica's were rebuild for the 23 August 2013, for the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.

The monument is derived from a Russian fairy tale of six children who went from Russia to Africa, almost got eaten by the cannibal Barmaley, who in turn got swallowed by a crocodile. Whilst in the crocodile’s belly, he promised to be nicer, so begged to be released. He then became kinder to children, also a friendly baker.

The Evzerikhin’s most famous image (above picture) is a grim scene of a fountain at Stalingrad. The subject of this classic image of children dancing the khorovod, a circle dance common in Russia, once might have projected innocence and normal life in the center of Stalingrad. The children’s fountain stood in the square just in front of Stalingrad’s main train station, greeting arriving visitors with its message of an exuberant future. Evzerikhin’s photograph turned that image of innocence upside down and turned the fountain into a commentary on war. In the background is a city now in flames and littered with rubble, devastated by months of bombing. The city square, once bustling with pedestrians, is empty.  

Part of the poem
Small children! 
For nothing of the world
Don't go to Africa, 
To walk Africa! 
In Africa, a sharks, 
In Africa, a gorilla, 
In Africa, a large
Evil crocodiles
Will you bite, 
To beat and hurt-
Do not go, my children, 
In Africa.
In Africa, the robber, 
In Africa, the villain, 
In Africa awful
He runs on Africa
And eats a children -
Ugly, bad, greedy Barmaley! 

The Barmaley fountain

The Barmaley fountain

Restored (replica) version at Train Station

The Barmaley fountain

Replica version at Flour Mill