World War II and Reconstruction of Pavlovsk
After the October revolution of 1917, the palace and park of Pavlovsk were nationalized and turned into a state museum. One of the finest palace and park ensembles not only of Russia, but of Europe as a whole, Pavlovsk was transformed from a royal residence into a major center for cultivating an interest in and knowledge of the arts. And this remained until June 1941, when Hitler’s armies invaded the Soviet Union.
Evacuation of the museum began at the end of June. The most valuable exhibits were removed to safety far from the fighting. Some objects were hidden on the territory on the park or walled up in the palace cellars. These collections survived, even though the Nazis set fire to the palace when they were forced to retreat.
It was not possible to save everything, however. The enemy units were firmly entrenched on the outskirts of Leningrad from September 17, 1941 to January 24, 1944. They turned the palace and park pavilions into ruins, blew up bridges and weirs, and destroyed about 70 thousand trees and 30 thousand shrubs. The cost of the damage was several million roubles.
Photographs of the ruins of the Great Palace were presented by the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials of leading Nazi war criminals. The colossal damage done by the Nazis, the London Congress of Architects noted, had deprived mankind of such splendid monuments as Pavlovsk.
Many design, construction and restoration organization in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) took part in the restoration of Pavlovsk palace and park. The work involved in resurrecting what seemed to be irretrievably lost masterpieces of architecture and applied art was immense. Over 40000 fragments of molding were found, making it possible to restore the rich molded ornament of the palace. And more than 60 thousand trees had to be planted in the parks to replace those cut down or damaged by the Nazis.
The restoration work was carried out on a highly scientific basis. Historical documents, such as plans, archive material, photographs, etc were used to achieve maxium historical authenticity.