Monday, July 16, 2007

Russia fails to bury its dead; Red Army soldiers stored in a garage

It can be tough to fight for a just memory of the Red Army's fallen soldiers in Estonia, Poland and other countries when you cannot assure an appropriate burial for the soldiers in your own country. In Russia's western-most region of Kaliningrad 45 bodies of Red Army soldiers are being stored in a garage of a volunteer digger for two years now, as the regional government continuously puts off their burial.

As local web-portal reports, the head of the digger group "Consciousness" Andrei Klimenko is one of many who are voluntarily searching for the millions of Soviet and German soldiers buried in the forests, rivers and lakes of Russia. According to Mr. Klimenko appropriate laws exist and even financing is plenty, but for some strange reason the local bureaucracy does not get its hands to the job.

But even when they do, like on June 22 of this year (the anniversary of Nazi attack on the Soviet Union) they do it carelessly. On June 22, 95 Red Army soldiers were buried with all appropriate honors, yet according to Mr. Klimenko some of them were Italian soldiers found near Strelna; they were in Italian military uniforms who ended up being buried as Red Army soldiers. But complaining was useless.

Recently nine bodies of Red Army soldiers were found by the diggers during a reconstruction of a theater in Kaliningrad; they were exhumed and buried appropriately, but the three bodies lying underneath a nearby statue of German poet Schiller were left alone. The diggers had no opportunity to identify them and feared that those bodies would follow the fate of the 45 bodies lying in Mr. Klimenko's garage, completely unwanted by local authorities. In the relatively small Kaliningrad region alone 150,000 soldiers fell, of those only 120,000 have been found.

If a war is indeed not over until the last victim is buried, the war for Russia will spread out over decades. But time is running out; Russia's newer generation is not far from placing the Great Patriotic War into the history books as just another event with little significance for the future; a truly saddening perspective.

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