The 65th anniversary of the Great Victory is coming. The significance of this event could never be overestimated, and we can’t but agree about our eternal gratitude to the Motherland’s courageous defenders, to the people who fought for peace and freedom.
According to the regional veterans’ organisation, Mogilev region is the home for about 4000 war participants, 2717 military men who fought beyond the borders of the Soviet Union, 107 citizens of blockaded Leningrad, 990 Great Patriotic War veterans, and home front workers. Unfortunately, each year the number of war participants (military men and partisans) declines, because of time, age and diseases. The chairman of the council of Mogilev regional organisation of the Belarusian Public Veterans’ Association, Anatoly Tikhonovich Ljubchenko tells the correspondent of the site about veterans’ everyday routine.
- Anatoly Tikhonovich, last year we celebrated the 65th anniversary of Belarus liberation. This year is marked with the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory. What matters has especially been focused on while preparing for the holiday?
- On the threshold of the Victory celebrations trade union organizations and regional administration have done much to provide veterans with everything they needed. Now any veteran’s funeral can be escorted by guard of honour, gun-carriage and salute. Veterans were supplied with medicines they needed; Mogilev City Veterans’ House was presented with a TV-set and a DVD-record-player.
- Veterans are elderly people. What kind of rest is available for them?
- The youngest veteran in the region is 84 years old; naturally, some elderly people do not want any kind of rest, but still much has been done in this direction. For example, more than 200 veterans’ clubs were established in Mogilev. Every year the Republican amateur festival “Ever young souls of veterans” is held. This year many veterans’ clubs and collectives strove for appearing at both regional and Republican stages.
Everyone in our city knows a 91-year Peter Victorovich Osmolovsky, who is always on the move. This restless man is welcomed at schools, lyceums, enterprises. God blesses him!
3990 veterans live in the region; 998 veterans died in 2008, and 958 - during the last year. Time passes, and less and less eye-witnesses of that terrible war remain alive. It means we are to care much about them, and to collect their memorials. Thus, in 2008 we managed to make a film about veterans “Honour and Glory of Mogilev” telling about veterans, the youth patriotic education, as well as about the main directions of our Association’s work.
- Care about the living and memory about those who died are the main aspects of Mogilev region veterans assosiations’ work, aren’t they?
- Special care should be taken of sacred things and places that remind us of the heroic and tragic past. Mogilev region has got 1414 soldiers’ burial places. 323 thousand soldiers who died during the war are buried there. This number excludes civil population. Unfortunately we know the names of only 14.8% of them. But they are someone’s relatives – dads, granddads, sons and daughters. Some people living on the territory of the former USSR still hope to get news about their relatives, their death place, and the place they are buried.
All common graves and personal graves have theirs registration certifications and numbers. The graves have got monuments, obelisks, steles, sculptures and other signs. All the graves have their registration descriptions.
But at the same time there are still a lot of burial places which we don’t know about. Every year remains of war soldiers are found. I issued instructions for every district Council of Veterans to ask local population about the sites of war battles and possible soldiers’ burial places. This information will be used to carry out extra researches and excavations. Every one knows Suvorov’s words: “The war is not over until the last soldier is buried.”
-Will you tell about your cooperation with veterans from Poland? As far as I know, you sent a letter of invitation to your Polish colleagues.
-We made a document including 9 items. The cooperation is supposed to have several directions – maintenance of burial places and monuments to soviet and polish soldiers who died during the Great Patriotic War on the territories of two countries. Much attention is paid to the work with young people. Participation of the youth of Belarus and Poland in various events and meetings with veterans is considered to be a necessary part of their patriotic education. This cooperation is also directed to assist living participants of the war, to make record and film collections to keep the memories for future generations.
I know that the Polish party has already received this letter; they have informed us by a telephone call. We are waiting for their reply at the moment. The village of Lenino (Gorky district) is a kind of link between the veterans of two countries. On October,12 1943 the first Polish infantry division named after T.Kostyushko had its first battle with Fascists. The division was formed on the territory of the USSR by Polish patriots and armed with soviet equipment. Polish soldiers together with soviet soldiers attacked the enemy and captured altitude 215.5. For their courage and heroism 239 Polish soldiers were awarded with soviet medals. 1 711 soviet soldiers and 502 Polish soldiers are buried in the common graves that are by the village of Lenino. The Museum of Soviet and Polish companionship-in-arms is located on altitude 215.5. I think that this battle united two nations and provided the foundation for our cooperation.
- Anatoly Tikhonovich, are there still the Heroes of the Soviet Union in Mogilev region?
- 114 Heroes of the Soviet Union lived in Mogilev region once. But last year the last of them died – Ulian Aleksandrovich Rybak from Dlussk district. The region was proud of 113 Heroes of Socialistic Labour and Holders of an order of Fame. Now we have 21 and 4 of them correspondingly. When Mogilev region celebrated its 72nd anniversary Petr Rudnik invited them to take part in the celebrations. But only few of them could come.
- I know that the idea of Veterans’ hymn was discussed, didn’t it?
- Vladimir Kharpukhin, a poet, militia veteran, veteran of the War in Afghanistanwrote a good poem for a hymn. Victor Holottso, a composer from Belynichi, composed the music. Before releasing the hymn we decided to consider other options that had appeared by that time. We made a conclusion that none of them can be the Veterans’ Hymn. They are good as songs, but rather weak as hymns. Now these songs are being worked at by the specialists from the academy of Music in Mogilev.
- What are your wishes to the citizens of Mogilev region on the threshold of the 65th anniversary of the Victory?
- First of all, I would like the people to be happy. My special happy and long life wishes are for those who won this Victory. This day will be a great holiday for each of them. Each veteran will be honored. Our hearts will keep the memory of those who gained our independence and liberty forever.
Olga Tkacheva, foto Repablic