A Scary Visual Takeover of the Russian Narrative

A Scary Visual Takeover of the Russian Narrative

by Kenneth on February 7, 2019

“They march like the Germans…” a WW2-era aged audience member said, as I started the YouTube video of the guard change at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexander Garden. “You beat me to it, let me explain…”

I remember the high step march from the news as a kid. The march was only shown through armies with seemingly “hostile” intent and marching in large numbers almost robotically. When I got older, I saw that the Germans in WW2 marched like this and they WERE evil (by that time I understood a little about Hitler and his motivations). It reinforced the image that the media I consumed as a child was “true” in a sense. I seem to recall, Disney may have had some controversy in the 90s with the cartoon “The Lion King,” where the hyenas marched past the evil lion named Scar, played by Jeremy Irons, with the high step parade march, as well.

I continued, “The Russian Tsar, Paul I, was like his German born father Peter III in a lot of ways. Like Peter, who wanted to be the Swedish King or a Prussian general and who idolized Frederick the Great of Prussia while making his guards dress in Prussian military uniform; Paul wanted to be a Knight of a Catholic order (The Knights of Malta), marched around his palace as if on military parade, and made his palace guards adopt Prussian military order including the use of the Prussian High Step parade march.”

“Knowing that, it gives it a little more context to remove the “ingrained fearfulness” of the march itself, I believe. It also makes me wonder: the October 1917 Revolution sought to distance Russia from the monarchy entirely, yet they kept a small facet of Romanov influence through this parade march…”

(After showing the video) “But here’s another thing, Paul was obsessed with detail and pomp and ceremony. This guard change lasts 2.5 minutes, as you see; Paul devised guard changes that lasted up to 2 hours!” (Wows, shakes of heads in disbelief, smiles)

Perception of the Russian narrative in the Cold War generation of Americans tweaked ever so slightly…

Thank you for reading.