The soldiers said that death is not the worst thing, it is much more terrible to remain in oblivion. In archival documents, millions of soldiers have the status of missing. That is why every year in the regions where the hostilities were conducted, an interregional watch of memory is held. Searches are underway for soldiers who died on the battlefields, attempts are being made to restore their names.
In the Battle of Stalingrad from July 1942 to February 1943, more than a million Soviet soldiers died. Since the beginning of the 2000s, more than 3 thousand fallen soldiers have been raised by search engines in the Gorodishchensky district.
An employee of the Uralweb.ru editorial staff personally visited the Memory Watch in Stalingrad (now Volgograd) and shared his impressions of what was happening there.
“Before the war, there were two villages near Stalingrad, Bolshaya and Malaya Rossoshki, which were wiped off the face of the earth. At the moment, a memorial has been erected in their place – German and Russian soldiers are buried on both sides of the same road. The soldiers who were found during the Memory Watch are buried here.
During the year, work is carried out with maps of military operations, then field work begins: operators come out with deep metal detectors, then they check with probes. An experienced searcher can hear and understand what is underground – a helmet or a bone. After the location has been determined, the excavations begin, in which we were able to participate.
There were four of us in the team. We dug for several hours, first came across an iron box, then the curator said that we need to expand the search area. In total, we dug a 3 * 3 square approximately.
The most exciting thing was when they saw the bone. The archaeological method of excavation has already been used there. We did this for the first time, so every action was strictly controlled by our mentor.
When you find a fighter, you don’t feel disgust or fear, only awe and a sense of touching history.
Our detachment found about thirty soldiers, one of them German. Our group personally raised two Red Army soldiers.
Experienced search engines suggested that one of the soldiers we found belonged to the medical unit, with him there were several dressing packages, some bottles.
Sometimes it can be concluded how a person died, for example, one of the fighters had his hands pressed to his stomach, it can be assumed that he was wounded in the stomach. The second soldier had a bullet wound to the head. Even the helmet was pierced there.
You can also understand which army soldier is excavated. Almost all of the Germans had metal tokens with their first name, surname, date of birth, and the number of the military unit. Our soldiers were given a pencil, a piece of paper and a capsule.
When we found the capsule, we experienced incredible joy, we thought at least someone would be identified. But it contained feathers from a pen. Many were illiterate, did not even know how to write their name. There was also superstition, if you fill out such a piece of paper, you will die in battle. Therefore, most of the fighters found are nameless.
Also, by burial, it is possible to determine the soldier died in winter or in summer. For those killed in the winter, you can find metal hooks from an overcoat nearby.
As far as I know, there are two types of burials: military and sanitary. Sanitary burial is when the fallen soldiers were buried in mass graves during the war. War burials arose due to wartime circumstances, the dead were not buried in mass graves, but remained in trenches, trenches, craters.
We were at one of these sites. In the post-war period, there were flooded fields, so search engines often find soldiers with limbs crippled by agricultural equipment.
Search parties are doing a great job, it is much more necessary than fireworks and magnificent festivities. I am incredibly lucky to have been on such an expedition. “