Russia building Reichstag replica for schoolchildren’s military exercises
“We are building a replica of the Reichstag in Patriot Park. Not a full-sized one, but something that allows the Young Army to storm a specific target, not just any old place,” said Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in a speech to the Duma.
Young Army (Yunarmiya, in Russian), which was created at the personal order of Vladimir Putin in 2015, currently has over 42,000 schoolchildren in its ranks. Its recruits, who are aged 10 and up, receive a 'patriotic education' from instructors, and also go on hikes, learn to handle weapons, and carry out large-scale military exercises.
Patriot Park, a massive complex 50 kilometers west of Moscow that opened two years ago, serves as the hub of the rapidly-growing movement, which signs up its members directly through state schools.
The photos provided for the article by the Ministry of Defense show an earlier, temporary model of the Reichstag, serving simply as a war game backdrop. The new, permanent building will be utilized in a wide variety of drills, as with an inside area that can be the setting for a multiple entry siege, and walls that can be scaled. The outside steps will be used for presentations, and a viewing platform is to be put up nearby.
The photo of the Reichstag building in Berlin with the Soviet flag raised above it is one of the most iconic from World War II and considered by many to be the ultimate symbol of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
This is not the first real-life building to have provided inspiration for a military training course. In 2015, the Chinese army released photos of soldiers storming what appears to be a loose replica of Taiwan’s parliamentary building. Moreover, after studying satellite photos, Diplomat magazine claimed the same Zhurihe training complex in Inner Mongolia contained several courses imitating parts of Taipei, the island’s capital. Somewhat bizarrely, the secretive training base also includes a scaled-down copy of the Eiffel Tower.
No to ‘endless militarization’
Russia’s Defense Minister also said that construction workers are also digging trenches and constructing fortifications throughout Patriot Park, which is also open to ordinary paying visitors, to provide “greater immersion in the era.” The official said that, from this year, entire families will be able to spend an entire day 'serving' inside a submarine located on the grounds.
Despite Yunarmiya’s self-proclaimed goal of becoming the main youth organization for Russian school students, Shoigu insisted that he was against the “endless militarization” of children, saying that military preparedness lessons should be optional, rather than compulsory.