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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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Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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