On June 6th the great Russian poet was celebrated in Düsseldorf
Every year on June 5th Alexander Pushkin gets thoroughly washed – of course not the poet himself, but his bust! That is how the preparations for the greatest Russian poet’s birthday on June 6th begin in Düsseldorf. The small memorial has been standing on Oberbilk market for 23 years. It is the only bust of Pushkin in former West Germany. Three more stand in East Germany, in Weimar, Jens and Gotha; cities associated with Germany’s greatest poet Wolfgang Goethe. With such love for poetry, the importance of the Russian national poet is not surprising. But why is Pushkin situated in the center of North Rhine Westphalia’s capital? The bust was a gift from Moscow to Düsseldorf , because a long partnership connects the cities to each other.
Three years ago Düsseldorf’s organization Akzeptanz, Vertrauen, Perspektive (AVP) (acceptance, trust, perspective) assumed sponsorship of the bust.
“You cannot imagine what it looked like here – dirt, empty bottles … Nobody took care of the bust and it was run down and covered in chewing gum.”
“The Russian people who live here did not want to see our Pushkin like that” managing director Sergej Aruin says. “We fought for two years before the city was convinced that we could handle the task.”
The idea to celebrate Pushkin’s birthday came up four years ago. In the beginning we had very few visitors, but there are more with each passing year. In his speech District Mayor Walter Schmidt explains that “by now every child in the area knows what is being celebrated on June 6th”.
Düsseldorf’s local politicians willingly attend the celebration in order to “invest” in the partnership between Moscow and Düsseldorf despite the difficult political situation.
Of course flowers are left at the memorial. Russian children recite Pushkin’s verses. “But we don’t want this to stay a Russian celebration” Aruin says. On this day the market turns into a meeting point for different cultures. The area around the bust is decorated with graffiti that were created during the project “Cultural Dialogues”. And children from schools in Düsseldorf participate in the drawing contest “Fairytales from all over the world”.
The performance by the dance group Kabawil e.V. is the day’s highlight. Adolescents with different nationalities rap Pushkin poems translated into German and dance along. Surely the Russian national poet would have liked that.