MOSCOW, April 16 – RIA Novosti. The Russian Defense Ministry published on its website a special multimedia section “Criminal Unconsciousness: What Poles Are Erasing from History”, in which it posted archival documents proving that a mass grave of Soviet soldiers was located on the site of the demolished memorial to the fallen Red Army soldiers in the Polish town of Trzczanka.
In 1945, at the initiative of the first military commandant of the city, Major Boris Rubtsov, a monument-mausoleum was erected on the site of the fraternal burial of Red Army soldiers who died during the liberation of the city and its environs in Trzchanka. It was opened in September 1945 with the official transfer of the erected memorial to the Polish administration of the city. The remains of 56 Soviet soldiers and officers who died during the liberation of these lands were buried under the memorial. The names of 16 of them have been established. The descendants of three heroes have been found so far.
In early September 2017, the administration of Trzchanka deleted this mausoleum from the list of military graves, considering that there were no remains of Soviet soldiers in this place, and in a barbaric manner, in violation of legal norms and international agreements, demolished the memorial, reminds the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Since that time, the Russian side and part of the local community have been in litigation with the Trzchanka administration over the legality of its actions.
In October 2017, amendments to the law banning the propaganda of communism or the totalitarian system came into force in Poland. The law obliges local authorities, among other things, to demolish Soviet monuments. According to the estimates of the Institute of National Remembrance of Poland, it concerns more than 450 monuments throughout the country, 230 of which are monuments to soldiers of the Red Army. However, this law does not apply to cemeteries and burial sites.
Now the Russian military department has released documents from the funds of its Central Archives. They confirm the presence in Trzchanka on the site of the demolished memorial of a Soviet military fraternal burial, as well as the fact of the official transfer of the memorial to the local authorities. Also, the published documents testify to the bloody battles for the city and the surrounding area in January 1945, about the exploits of the heroes – soldiers and commanders of the Red Army who died there. 1 of 4 Archival documents about burials in Poland 2 of 4 Archival documents about burials in Poland 3 of 4 Archival documents about burials in Poland 4 of 4 Archival documents on burials in Poland 1 of 4 Archival documents on burials in Poland 2 of 4 Archival documents on burials in Poland 3 of 4 Archival documents on burials in Poland 4 of 4 Archival documents on burials in Poland
Archival documents included in the exposition of the multimedia section have been declassified and published within the framework of the federal project “No statute of limitations”, implemented on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation.
Handsome memorial demolished by barbarians
The section of the page of the passport card of a military burial (No. 2/32/11) on the territory of Trzczanka, signed in 2012 by a representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the Polish Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom, patronizing the burial, is opened. The pages of the passport contain detailed data on the mass burial of Soviet servicemen in Trzchanka with a list of names that could be established, with a detailed description of the memorial and a map-diagram of its location.
The description of the mass grave says that it “is made in the form of an architectural composition of twelve round concrete columns, located on a stepped granite pedestal, on which a triangular roof is installed. On the facade of the roof there is an image of a hammer and sickle and an inscription in Russian:” Eternal glory to the heroes, fallen in battles with the German invaders for the freedom and independence of our Motherland! “The aesthetic beauty of the memorial and the adjacent territory can be judged by the photo image given in the passport, and the words:” grass, bushes and trees are planted on the grave. “The scale and monumentality of this memorial complex are confirmed by a detailed plan-scheme: along the pediment it reached 70 meters, and in depth it exceeded 93 meters.
Here are also published in Polish pages of the inventory of the burial in Trzczanka of the Red Army soldiers who died “in the Polish area”, which also contains a list of the established names of the dead servicemen.
From the published documents it is clear that the territory of the memorial was not at all a concrete grave with a monument. Its architect created in the city, destroyed by the war, an ennobled city park filled with greenery.
The subsequent documents of the section tell about the bloody battles of the rapidly advancing troops of the Red Army with the fiercely defending units of the Wehrmacht, deployed here in the winter of 1945.
“Pomeranian shaft” broke through outright
The city of Schönlanke (the former German name of Trzczanka) was liberated on January 28, 1945 by the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front under the command of Marshal Georgy Zhukov during the Warsaw-Poznan operation – part of the large-scale Vistula-Oder strategic offensive operation of the four Soviet fronts.
The city was a well-fortified stronghold and was part of Hitler's so-called “Pomeranian Wall” – a deeply echeloned defensive line consisting of long-term firing points located on high hills covered with forests. This line was intended to stop the advance of Soviet troops on German territory. But on January 28, units of the 2nd Guards Tank Army immediately broke through the “Pomeranian Wall” in the Schönlanke area.
According to information from the combat log of the 2nd Guards Tank Army, its units with an instant throw captured the crossing of the Netze River and advanced in the direction of Schönlanke. The description of the situation for January 28 indicates that the tankers were forced to fight in the conditions of dense urban development: “The enemy in the Schönlanke area put up stubborn resistance in small groups throughout the day, mainly from stone buildings.”
Based on the entry in the same journal, the 12th Guards Tank Corps, which was part of the army, from August to December 1944 was under the operational control of the 8th Guards Army under the command of the hero of the Battle of Stalingrad, Colonel General Vasily Chuikov. That is, the Chuikov guardsmen, who went through the “Stalingrad school” of brutal urban battles, passed on their combat experience to the soldiers and commanders of the 12th Panzer Corps.
The published combat journal of the 47th Guards Tank Brigade describes the fierce battles for the city and the losses of the advancing Soviet troops. For example, two battalions of the brigade burst into Schönlank and in the area of churches was met with heavy fire from the faust patrons. During the day of city battles alone, 20 guardsmen were killed, 30 were injured; 10 tanks were lost during the fighting. Tankers in these battles destroyed 6 guns, 9 armored personnel carriers, 5 vehicles, 17 grenade launchers armed with faust cartridges, and up to two companies of enemy soldiers and officers.
According to the magazine, by the evening of January 28, the guardsmen of the 47th Tank Brigade completed their combat mission: the city of Schönlanke was liberated.
Examples of heroism
A significant part of the documents published on the new portal of the Ministry of Defense are devoted to specific examples of heroism, courage and dedication of the soldiers and officers of the Red Army who heroically fought in the battles for this Polish city and surroundings.
For example, in the posthumous submission to the Order of the Patriotic War of the 2nd degree for the commander of the tank of the guard, Lieutenant Leonid Scheer, it is indicated that his crew, “following the tank in closing the brigade throughout the battles from the Vistula River to the city of Shenlanke, ensured the protection of the brigade's rear and the timely delivery ammunition and fuel and lubricants for combat vehicles. “01/28/1945, having found himself with the rear of the brigade in a difficult combat situation, risking his life, under enemy fire, he personally supervised the evacuation of the wrecked wheeled vehicles from the battlefield. Fulfilling this important task, Comrade Scheer died, “the document says.
From other documents, visitors to the section learn about the loader of the tank of the 1st tank battalion of the 50th Guards Tank Uman Brigade of the Guards Senior Sergeant Kali Belyaev, who was also awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd degree. While in reconnaissance as part of the crew of the guard lieutenant Massaev, he destroyed two enemy tanks and suppressed the fire of the artillery battery. “Being wounded, he continued to load the cannon, thereby ensuring the success of the crew. Personally, in that battle, he destroyed 30 German Fausto throwers (anti-tank grenade launchers – ed.)”, – reads in the award list.
Before these battles, Belyaev had already been wounded twice: the first time in 1942, and the second – a year later. According to the list of irrecoverable losses of sergeants and rank-and-file personnel of the 50th Guards Tank Brigade, senior sergeant Belyaev went missing on January 27 in a battle for the city.
Among those killed in the battles for Shenlanke is the junior mechanic-driver of the tank guard Sergeant Fyodor Volodin. In the posthumous submission of the tanker to the Order of the Patriotic War of the 2nd degree, it is indicated that, being the “head of the battalion's radio station,” he took all possible measures to ensure uninterrupted communication. At the moment when the radio station was defeated, he continued to participate in the battle in the place of the radio operator-machine gunner. “The crew, in which Comrade Volodin fought, went into attacks many times and destroyed a large number of Germans,” reads the award list. “In the battle of Shenlanke, Comrade Volodin died a heroic death, while showing heroism and courage,” the document says.
Also, the Ministry of Defense notes the examples of courage and heroic actions in the battles of the guard senior sergeant Pyotr Knyazev, described in the published award list. Being the cook of a tank battalion, he, “following the battle formations with the kitchen … more than once, with a rifle in his hands, went to repel the attack of the enemy's machine gunners.” At the same time, the chef-guardsman destroyed up to 20 machine gunners and took two prisoners. Knyazev did not forget about his direct work: “the personnel provided hot food, personally delivered hot food to the battle tanks,” the document says. 75 years of the Great Victory