Russia reburies 1,800 German soldiers from bloodiest battle of World War II
Russia reburied on Thursday more than 1,800 German soldiers from the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle of World War II.
The 1,837 soldiers were laid to rest in the Rossoschka cemetery, in what is now Russia’s southern Volgograd region, nearly 75 years after the war’s end.
“We can be thankful to Russia that we have been able to erect cemeteries and memorials for the relatives (of those who were killed),” said former German general Wolfgang Schneiderhan.
An estimated 700,000 people were killed in the Battle of Stalingrad, which ended in a crucial victory for the Soviet Union, turning the tide of the war in the Allies’ favour.
Schneiderhan, who heads the German War Graves Commission, which maintains the graves of Germans killed abroad during the two world wars, believes there are hundreds of thousands of German soldiers’ bodies yet to be found in the former Soviet Union.
“I believe that we can talk about 300,000 who have still not been found in the territories of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus,” said Schneiderhan, 73.
About 65,000 German soldiers are buried in Rossoschka.
The cemetery is intended to educate future generations about the conflict and its devastation.
During Thursday’s ceremony, Schneiderhan presented to 83-year-old Karl Cramm from the north-western German town of Gross Lafferde in Lower Saxony the dog tags of his fallen father.
Since the beginning of its work in Russia in 1992, the German War Graves Commission has reburied more than 400,000 soldiers, about 13,000 of them last year.
The organisation receives about 30,000 search queries annually, including from the U.S. and Australia, where the descendants of German emigrants are interested in the fate of their ancestors.
The commission, which celebrates its centennial anniversary this year, looks after war graves in 46 countries.