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“Preserving the memory of a common history so that the tragedy is not repeated”

Date: March 20, 2023 Time: 18:35:17

Photo: Stanislav VARYKHANOV

The delegation of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Russia took part in the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of the city of Rzhev from the Nazi invaders. Rzhev was liberated on March 3, 1943 after 15 months of fighting that claimed the lives of more than 1.3 million Soviet soldiers.

About 22 thousand soldiers and officers called up from Kazakhstan desperately fought near Rzhev, including soldiers of the 100 and 101 separate rifle brigades formed in the republic. More than 80% of them died at the borders of Rzhev.

The German advance on the city at the end of 1941 was rapid. The population of Rzhev before the war was 56 thousand people, 20 thousand of whom did not have time to evacuate. The fate of those who stayed was bitter. According to the materials of the trial of collaborators from Rzhev and its surroundings, about half of the population was driven into German slavery. Some historians claim that at the time of the liberation, about two hundred survivors remained in Rzhev. The city was reduced to ashes.

Photo: Stanislav VARYKHANOV

“We advanced over fields of corpses”

The retention of Rzhev was of strategic importance for the Nazi troops: it was here that the forces were accumulated, which, according to the scenario of the invaders, were to go on a second campaign against Moscow. Military historians are convinced that the victorious Rzhev operation, together with the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk, became one of the key events of the Second World War.

But the price of Rzhev’s release has become infinitely high. Every meter of this affliction was covered in iron and blood. This is what he writes in the book “Artillerymen, Stalin gave the order!” We die to win”, battle participant Pyotr Mikhin: “We advanced on Rzhev through fields of corpses. During the Rzhev battles, many “valleys of death” and “groves of death” appeared. It is hard for those who have not been there to imagine what a stinking mess consisting of thousands of human bodies covered in maggots.”

Kazakhstan’s contribution to the common Victory is difficult to overestimate. During the years of the Great Patriotic War, 1 million 196 thousand 164 inhabitants left the republic for the front, which is about 20% of the population. For the freedom of the Motherland, 601 thousand 939 people died, 12% of Kazakhs. In the republic, 12 infantry divisions, 4 cavalry divisions, 7 brigades, 50 regiments were formed. For exploits in the camps of World War II, 615 Kazakhstani were awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Another 200 residents of the Kazakh SSR became full knights of the Order of Glory.

In the battles for Rzhev, a native of the Karaganda region of the guard, Senior Lieutenant Zhumash Rakhmetov, platoon commander of the 1st tank battalion, was killed. In the battles near Rzhev, he knocked out 11 enemy tanks, destroyed dozens of enemy bunkers and dugouts, gave his life in battle for the village of Vereista and was posthumously awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Photo: Stanislav VARYKHANOV

The uncle of the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kassym Tokayev, also fought here. He found eternal rest in a common grave in the territory of the town of Trubino. That is why the president has a double name: the first is in honor of his father’s older brother.

From the bitter example of his family, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev knows that the victory in the Great Patriotic War was won at the cost of incredible efforts and colossal sacrifices. “It was forged through the unmatched courage and unwavering spirit of front-line soldiers, the resilience and selflessness of home-front workers. Our sacred duty is to always remember the high price they paid for our freedom, for our right to live and create”, the president of Kazakhstan is convinced.

“I myself am the grandson of a front-line soldier”

The visit of the Kazakh diplomats began with the laying of flowers at the foot of the Rzhev Monument to the Soviet Soldier, inaugurated in 2020, whose popular name is “Cranes”. A 25-meter bronze figure of a warrior crowning a flock of cranes rises on a 10-meter octagonal hill, it is visible from afar. The face of a soldier who leaves for the sky is tired and calm, he is focused on us, the ones he left on earth, as the famous song says.

The memorial complex was erected in honor of the participants in the legendary Rzhev-Vyazemsky operation, one of the goals of which was to divert the forces of the German army from Stalingrad. The task was accomplished with honor, but the fundamental injustice was that the endlessly long battle for Rzhev was hushed up for a considerable period of time. The bitter truth is that many soldiers and officers who survived deadly battles did not expect the military honors they deserved like no other. But now the piercing monument “Cranes” will not allow generations to forget the great feat of their ancestors.

Embassy staff participated in a demonstration in the city, during which military personnel marched through Rzhev’s central square to the sound of an orchestra. Kazakh diplomats laid flowers on the stele “Rzhev – the city of military glory”, on the Obelisk to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. And nearby the organizers of the action set up a country kitchen, the guests of the holiday were fed with stewed porridge, washed down with tea.

Photo: Stanislav VARYKHANOV

A separate memorial complex is also dedicated to the memory of those who died in and around Rzhev. It is a 27-meter granite wall depicting a map of Kazakhstan, on which the cities of Astana, Aktobe and Almaty are marked, where the 100th and 101st rifle brigades were formed in 1941. The names of 10 thousand Kazakhstani natives who fell in the battles for Rzhev are engraved on the plates. The diplomats also visited the museum of the Rzhev battle.

Summing up the trip, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Russian Federation Yerlan Shamishev said: “We must keep the memory of all the dead soldiers who gave their lives for the prosperity of our Motherland, including the buried Kazakhs. on this earth. They made a great contribution to the Victory. In our time it is very important to preserve the memory of a common history so that a tragedy like that war is not repeated. We always remember those tragic days – the monument we visited, the Wall of Memory, on which the names of the deceased Kazakhs are imprinted, serves as proof of this. We lay flowers and honor his memory. This memory is very important to transmit from generation to generation. Let me remind you that every second Kazakh who went to war did not return home, and many of the dead are buried on this land.

We thank the local community, the authorities and the management of the museum.”

The military attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Yerzhan Yermekbayev, recalled that a “series of glorious holidays” began this year, including the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Rzhev, the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk. . The commemorative celebrations will continue until 2025.

“We honor the memory of the exploits of our ancestors who fought against the Nazi invaders in the name of saving our common country, in the name of the future, in the name of the happiness of our peoples and the well-being of our land. I myself am the grandson of a veteran. My grandfather Ashimbay defended Moscow, participated in the Battle of Stalingrad, died in August 1944 near Riga. The Kazakhs and other Soviet peoples who performed heroic deeds on the camps of the Great Patriotic War will forever remain in our hearts. We came to Rzhev to honor his memory. We thank the organizers of the celebration, the leaders of the Tver region, the governor for the opportunity to once again lay flowers on the obelisk. Our ancestors accomplished a feat in the name of the future, peace, prosperity, happiness of our peoples, thanks to which today we can live, rejoice, raise children, strengthen friendship,” said the military attache.

It can be added to his words that in our restless and dramatic time, it is more important than ever that “the common thread of the days” is not broken. May the memory of the feat of ancestors who gave their lives at the altar of common Victory keep us from new disasters and tribulations.

Photo: Stanislav VARYKHANOV

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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