On the train back to Moscow, it's the last thing you see of Kiev: a giant gleaming statue representing the motherland, looming over the Dnepr River facing west, a sword for retribution in one hand, a shield for defense in the other.
Standing 203 feet high on a 130-foot pedestal, overwhelming the gold-tipped domes of the ancient Pecherskaya monastery nearby, the stern-faced woman -- only four years old -- is the city's newest reminder of the great patriotic war.
Monuments to World War II are everywhere in this graceful city, the Soviet Union's third-largest, capital of the Ukraine, which Germany occupied from September 1941 to Nov. 7, 1943.
The numbers, recited at every monument, although sometimes in conflicting detail, explain the obsession. Kiev had a population of 800,000 before the war. Only 190,000 remained when it was over; about 200,000 people in the city were killed, another 100,000 were deported to Germany, the rest were evacuated or fled east.
In the Ukraine as a whole, the Soviet Union's coveted breadbasket, 5 million people died during the war. The region stayed under German occupation a year longer than Kiev, and last week it celebrated the 40th anniversary of its liberation.
In a rural museum outside the city, a plaque lists 146 persons from one village killed in the war, 20 with the same last name. Above the plaque is this legend: "No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten."
YET FOR ALL the remembering, here where history can be rewritten and heroes turned into nonpersons overnight, there are glaring cases of deliberate forgetting.
Two names are conspicuously missing from the recitations of the ravages of the war and of the Ukraine's grueling recovery -- Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev, two men who controlled Kiev's fate during wartime.
In the war museum next to the motherland statue, with its 18 halls and more than 8,000 exhibits chronicling every step of the Soviet war effort, Stalin's name is mentioned only once -- in a yellowing copy of Pravda with his speech to the Soviet people on July 3, 1941.
At a memorial seven miles outside the city, where the Red Army launched its offensive across the Dnepr to liberate Kiev in November 1943, only a small sign marks the bunker of political commissar Nikita Khrushchev.
The silences are linked. First Khrushchev, Stalin's successor, banished Stalin's memory. Then, 20 years ago this week, Khrushchev was relegated to oblivion, 20 years after he played a key role in the liberation of the Ukraine. Only one of the anniversaries is remembered.
The history left unsaid by the guides is full of the influence of both men on this city.
It was Khrushchev, then commissar of the Kiev special military district and first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, who advised Stalin to abandon Kiev in the dark days of 1941, a necessary tactical decision in the view of some military historians. It was also Khrushchev who, after liberation, directed the Ukraine's prodigious recovery efforts.
This month, Khrushchev was not even mentioned when the prime minister of the Ukraine, Alexander Lyashko, spent 30 minutes on the war during a two-hour meeting with foreign journalists. Nor is he listed in the city's official pamphlet on the war, and the prewar sports stadium dedicated to him has been renamed.
Since Oct. 14, 1964, when his colleagues summoned him back from a Black Sea vacation and ousted him from the Politburo, Khrushchev's name has been mentioned only once in the Soviet press, in an article printed during the early months of Yuri Andropov's tenure as Soviet leader. His role at the battle of Stalingrad was mentioned positively. Since then, the silence has descended again.
ANOTHER FIGURE of Russian history has been forgotten in Kiev. Peter Stolypin, the minister of czar Nicholas II whose attempts at land reform made him a major target of Lenin, was assassinated in Kiev in 1911 and buried at the Pecherskaya monastery, or so at least one guidebook said. Asked to point out the spot, the tour guide walked over to a side of a church wall. "Somewhere here," she said, pointing at unmarked flagstones on the ground.
ACROSS THE CITY from the motherland statue is another memorial to the war, honoring the victims at Babi Yar, a ravine where the Nazis slaughtered more than 100,000 civilians -- a third of them Jews.
The Babi Yar monument was also a late addition to Kiev's collection of war memorials. It was unveiled in 1976, 15 years after the poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko wrote a scathing poem about official neglect of the site, interpreted at the time as an indictment of lingering anti-Semitism.
Where Yevtushenko decried the failure to remember, there is now a bronze statue of 12 men, women and children, facing death, their hands tied behind their backs.
But despite the outcry caused by Yevtushenko's poem and appeals by Jewish groups, the plaque on the monument makes no mention of the special tragedy of Kiev's Jews.