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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

Wednesday, Sept. 3


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Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


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Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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