19 The Interesting Story of the Kremlin Red Stars

The Interesting Story of the Kremlin Red Stars

Posted on September 17, 2018 by tim


In three days time eighty three years ago – from 24 October to 27 October in 1935, the first five-pointed stars were installed on four towers of the Moscow Kremlin. Before that there were two-headed eagles there. At first they wanted to put flags there instead of the eagles but later they choose the stars in particular in the end.

At first they tried to replace the eagles (symbols of the Tsar) with Red Stars right after the October Revolution, however the economic situation of the new country didn’t allow them to carry out this plan at that time.

Later, they didn’t even know which symbol to put on the Kremlin towers to replace the Eagles. Trotsky was proposing a five-pointed star as the most powerful esoteric pentagram. Another option was a Swastika that was widely used in olden day Russia and was even used on old Russian bank notes. However, a Red Star won and they proved to show their power over time.

Stalin personally reviewed the proposed Red Stars projects and offered a few corrections to the original design. Then they made a working model, illuminated with lights, and showed the model to Party Officials including Stalin and they approved it.

Hundreds of people of different professions participated in this project. The first Stars were made out of Red Copper and Stainless Steel. They were gold plated and had jewels from th Ural mines in the middle of each one. In total there were 7,000 jewels used from 20 to 200 carats each.  The total weight of all four stars was 5600kg (5.6 ton).

Each of the four Stars had a different design.  The size from point to point was 4.5 meters (over 14 feet). The steel frame weighed more than one ton. They were made to withstand the strong storm winds – they are mounted on ball bearings and can rotate wherever way the wind blows.

A first Red Star for the Nikolskaia Tower of the Kremlin.

Because the stars were heavy they had to rebuild the roofs of the towers to make strong enough to install them there.

Before installing the stars on the Kremlin towers they were put on display in Moscow park. Projector lights were illuminating the shining jewels on the hammer and sickles to amuse the people gathering to check out the newly made stars.

The Star from the Trotsky Tower of the Kremlin. 1935.

In the same park, the old Eagles were put on display with the slogan: “Old and New: Future and Past”. Stars with their shining jewels looked much nicer, especially in the projector lights.

On October 24, 1935 they installed the first star. It wasn’t a very easy task as Russia at that time had no cranes able to lift such a heavy thing to over 70 meters in height.

Over one hundred people gathered on the Red Square to watch the operation.

After the Star was finally installed they all applauded.

On the next day they installed a star on the Troitskaia tower. It took just 1.5 hours to install a star on a tower.

However these first stars didn’t last too long.

After the first two winters they stopped looking shiny, and began to look dull under the influence of the wind, snow and rain. Even the jewels looked dull.

Also they looked too big on the towers. There was no visual harmony between them and the Kremlin towers. So just one year later, in 1936, a new order was issued to start building models of the new stars. So in May 1937, Stalin signed an order to install new Ruby-glass stars with internal lights on the now five towers of the Kremlin.

Those ruby glowing Stars became the true symbol of the propaganda era – they are still on the towers until this day.

The Ruby glass was made to order by a special recipe. Those new stars could also rotate according to where the wind blows. They are not affected by weather because of the stainless steel frame and ruby glass.

However there was one new problem – if you looked on the Stars with the Sun behind them they seemed to appear.. black. To solve this they installed special prism refractors inside the stars to help the light get into the star and dissipate inside in a more even manner.

And one of the old 1935 Stars was later installed on the spire of the Moscow River Boat Station.

Each five years the stars are washed by a special team of climbers.

The new Ruby Stars were not only rotating but were also illuminated from inside. To prevent overheating, 600 cubic meters of air is circulated through each star every hour. They have a reserve power supply so if the Kremlin gets blacked out stars will still be shining. The lamps are a whopping 5,000 and 3,7000 (depending on the tower) watt bulbs! They have two bulbs inside each bulb so if one goes down the star will still be shining. And you don’t need to climb to the star to change the bulb – it can be lowered down through a special tunnel inside the star and it takes just 30 min to replace the bulb in one of the Kremlin stars.

In the whole history of the USSR and new Russia the ruby stars stopped shining only two times: the first time was during World War 2, they were shut down deliberately to prevent Nazi airplanes from being guided by the shining stars like by a searchlight. They also were covered with rags so that they could’t be seen from far away. When the rags were removed they discovered that some panels of glass were shattered, mostly as a result of Moscow anti air artillery shooting their own stars trying to hit German planes.

And the second time was when the Russian Oscar winning director Mikhalkov was making a movie about pre-Communist Russia and the Kremlin. He got permission to turn off the stars so that Kremlin could look like it had a long time ago.

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19 Responses to “The Interesting Story of the Kremlin Red Stars”

  1. p51d007 says:

    How come the stars are still there? Russia isn’t the “soviet” union, but a “federation”…I thought they got rid of communism wink wink.

    • Miles says:

      It is called respect for your own history, regardless of its contents. Starting from blank slate will doom a nation to repeat events that were erased or force-forgotten. Do US erase all Confederate symbols? Oh, wait…

    • Guderian says:

      Symbols of Victory are hard to dump away. I suppose they want to keep the good things from their past, like everybody does.

    • FunnyMerican'ts says:

      …”How come the stars are still there?…”.- Because it helped the people living there to fight back a genocidal invasion (the worst ever recorded in History), survive and prevail, and of course, WINNING it.

      You didn’t know?

      Wink wink….

  2. Jewels Vern says:

    Wow!

  3. Douglas says:

    Interesting story. But there is something odd about the ruby and diamond simulation That seems rather bourgeoisie and offensive..

  4. Phill Mazur says:

    I like how they been later described in Gluchovskij novel Metro 2033, that even despite the complete nuclear wasteland, those stars were still shining and lure everyone who dare to look at them.

  5. Jewels Vern says:

    The USA has a similar problem: statues and flags commemorating the civil war are fiercely debated. Do you embrace your past even though it is embarrassing, or do you conceal your past and tolerate a hole in your development?

    • Douglas says:

      @ Jewels……There’s a group of people in the USA that we can call ‘trouble makers’. They rant and rave at a myriad of imagined wrongs. They have a hard time dealing with reality…past and present. There is no end to their anger, rage and hostility. Instead of understanding and learning about the past, they want to erase the past and rewrite the history books.

    • Herodotus says:

      Yes, Jewels, it’s similar. The Soviets WON a BIG WAR against some fanatic Racists who wanted to improve their ‘superior’ well-being, by starting precisely that big war. These fanatics tried to steal “vital space” in the East, exterminating the population and enslaving the few survivors left… But the Soviets WON, and these deranged Racists were smashed and LOST, horribly.

      The Confederates were a previous bunch of Racists who based their well-being by also exterminating and enslaving a lot of “other” people. They wanted to preserve at least this backward, slavery absurd, and also started a War –which they totally LOST, too… That’s a clear similarity here.

      Small wonder why the current supporters of BOTH defeated Racists are the same bunch of backward LOSER loonies. When they happen to read about it, they soon find out it’s a tough thing trying to DENY or ‘rewrite’ all this.

      But that’s why losers, well, lose. Never learn…

    • FunnyMerican'ts says:

      @”Jewels Vern”

      Embarrassing? For Confederates only. They are remembered for fighting for the “right” to profit with a very comfortable, racist Slavery Business. They started their war… and completely lost it. –LOL. Now, that’s embarrassing…

      In contrast, for any Russian, the most impórtant meaning of the Red Star is fighting back a horrible invasion, against incredible odds, in the biggest conflict ever recorded by mankind, by all measures; fighting for the survival of the entire population against genocidal, mad racist enemies; and WINNING a Complete VICTORY.

      That’s far from “embarrassing”. For the many surviving generations of Russians, that’s the lasting meaning of the Red Star. Whatever other meaning it has (or wahetever other meaning the usual hostile foreigners may give, denying everything else), pales in comparison.

  6. Herodotus says:

    So, I guess the descendants of all the Soviet people (men, women, kids) who fought back that ‘superior’ extermination attempt against them –and WON with these Red Stars as symbol- should be very proud.

    The descendant generations are, and have no problem remembering their brave, tough granpas. They owe these Red Star fighters their mere survival, and very present existence. That’s the Red Star symbol meaning that will remain for them.

  7. Jewels Vern says:

    I stated a general case. I did not say anything to provoke such hateful responses.

    • Douglas says:

      No worries Jewels…..the many responses are just some random opinions. We enjoy your comments.

    • Herodotus says:

      No problem. It’s nothing against you or your comment, Jewels.It raised some interesting points.

      It helped clarify why the Red Star is respected by most of their people. And why Confederate monuments are not.

      Most of Americans who have a clear idea of their own principles, consider these monuments an embarrssment (that’s why they’re taking them down as we speak, and there’s a ‘debate’ there). Its up to them to finally deal with all that dark past –and its very present repercussions.

  8. john says:

    Fascinating story, and beautiful views of Moscow!

  9. Chac Mool says:

    Great pics. I saw them here some years ago, but the info this time is very interesting.Thanks ER!

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