Recreation Services staffers at Plummer Park disovered Thursday morning that the plaque on the World War II Russian Veterans Memorial had been altered.
The original inscription, which was unveiled when the Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 2005, read: “Dedicated in Honor of and in Tribute to the World War II Veterans from the Former Soviet Union.”
At some point, someone affixed a plaque of the same size over the old one without the city's authorization. The polished medal on the new one is engraved in English on the left, with a Russian translation on the right, and reads: "Eternal memory and glory to those who defeated the Nazism in the World War II."
City Hall officials were notified of the rogue plaque on Thursday evening. Mayor Pro Tempore Jeffrey Prang said they are not sure when it was placed there.
“It’s heartbreaking that someone thought they knew better,” Prang said.
The discovery of the new plaque came just days before the 66th anniversary of V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day), which is May 8, 1945, and marks the time Allied forces accepted the unconditional surrender of German armed forces, thereby ending the European portion of World War II.
The city intends to go ahead with its V-E Day observance Sunday at 11 a.m. City Council members and veterans will be on hand for the observance. The city will place a banner over the plaque with the original inscription.
To minimize concerns among Russian-speaking participants at Sunday’s event, the city has asked members of the Russian Advisory Board and some Russian-speaking City Hall staffers to be on hand to assist with the observance.
The city plans to remove the rogue plaque, but there is no time to do that before Sunday’s observance. “They used a very strong epoxy,” said Prang. “It may take some time to determine how best to remove it without doing any damage to the granite.”
In 2001, Prang and late Councilman Sal Guarriello co-sponsored the proposal to create the Russian Veterans Memorial. A task force was created to determine how best to honor Russian World War II veterans who now reside in West Hollywood.
“This was not a monument to Russians, but a monument to American Russians,” said Prang, who estimated that at the time the memorial was proposed there were 800 people living in West Hollywood who fought in the Soviet army. “Veterans of WWII are one of the most prominent communities in West Hollywood. WWII was a life-changing experience for them and we wanted to honor that.”
Prang estimates the Russian Veterans Memorial cost $100,000. A capital campaign raised the money to build it, but the city now pays for its upkeep.
There are no suspects, but an investigation is under way, said Prang.