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Cemetery for Fallen German Soldiers Opened

Published: September 12, 2000 (Issue # 602)



  • A lone trumpeter playing as wreaths are laid at the Sologubovka cemetery on Saturday, where German soldiers are buried.
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

German and Russian veterans gathered at a small village near St. Petersburg on Saturday to mark to opening of a war cemetery for German soldiers who were killed in World War II.

The five-hectare burial site was chosen by the German War Graves Association, which scouted various cemeteries with the unmarked graves of German soldiers in Russia before deciding on So logubovka, located about 70 kilometers northeast of St. Petersburg.

The remains of soldiers from smaller burial sites in the region were also collected and buried at Sologubovka.

At the opening, German veterans wandered among the graves looking for relatives and friends. One man, Kurz Willie, fought in the area in 1943. "There were 20 of us in my unit, all of us were 18 years old," he said, struggling to keep back tears. "Sixteen of us died." Another woman, Helga Ortner, was pointing joyfully at a name on the memorial: "I have found my husband's brother," she said.

Sologubovka is now the resting place of 20,000 soldiers, around half of whom have been identified. It is estimated that up to 80,000 will be buried here when the cemetery is completed, making it the largest war cemetery in Russia.

Russia has a total of 89 cemeteries for foreign soldiers, containing the remains of an estimated 400,000 people, according to a Reuters report on Monday. Germany alone lost up to 5 million on Soviet soil during World War II.

"In 1943, when we were being chased by the German Army, we went through this area," recalled Russian veteran Valentin, 75, who did not give his last name. "I remember a huge German cemetery on this spot, with graves marked by crosses made of birch."

The land on which the cemetery rests is the property of the Orthodox Church, which was thanked at the opening ceremony by Karl-Wilhelm Lange, president of the German War Graves Association, and by Germany's ambassador to Russia, Dr. Ernst Jorg von Studnitz.

There is also a Garden of Peace nearby, as well as a Church of the Assumption, being restored with funds from the War Graves Association as a gesture of reconciliation.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Add to your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya Ploshchad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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