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German Veterans Come for Church Dedication

Published: September 23, 2003 (Issue # 904)


About 500 German war veterans and relatives of those who died in the Second World War attended the handing over of a restored Orthodox church beside what is to become the largest German war cemetery in the world in the village of Sologubovka, 80 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg, on Saturday.

Many grey-haired men and women, who traveled to Sologubovka all the way from Germany, could not hold back their tears when getting to the spot, which is intended to be a "unique symbol of Russian-German reconciliation."

For many Russians, the atrocities committed and suffering caused by the Germany army, which invaded Russia in 1941, before being smashed by the Red Army and pursued to defeat in Berlin, are unforgiveable.

The area around the city could be expected to be particularly hostile given the huge price in human lives paid during the 900-day siege of Leningrad that cost the lives of more than 700,000 people, many of whom died of starvation.

The Soviet Union did not bury many of its own soldiers, and made no provision for graves for German soldiers on its soil.

However, in 1992 the Russian government finally allowed the exhumation of German soldiers as part of putting the hostilities of wars behind it and the united Germany.

"This Russian church was restored using the donations of private German citizens, and we thought this project could serve for further German-Russian understanding and reconciliation," said Fritz Kirchmeier, spokesman for the German nongovernmental People's Commission of German War Graves.

"While preserving the memory of the victims of that war and its violence, we are making a contribution to the mutual understanding and reconciliation between our nations," said German ambassador to Russia Hans-Friedrich von Ploetz, who spoke at the ceremony.

The Sologubovka cemetery was opened in 2000 under the initiative of the commission. To date the remains of about 32,000 German soldiers have been buried in Sologubovka. The cemetery can take the remains of up to 80,000.

The area around Sologubovka, called the Sinyavin Heights, was the scene of some of the toughest battles of the Second World War.

"I had some of the worst times of my life here," said veteran Hans Mueller, holding back his tears. "In a matter of one day in September 1943, I lost a large number of my comrades here."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 17


AmCham’s Investment and Legal Committee Meeting convenes this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center at 9 a.m.


Learn more about the science of teaching English at today’s EFL Seminar hosted by the British Book Center. Revolving around the topic of learning styles, the workshop will help attendees better understand the different effective learning methods that can be implemented to learn English more effectively.



Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburg’s answer to the United States’ popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genre’s authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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