New database documents 1 million WWII citizen heroes who defended Moscow

Russian archives have been busy posting WWII records online this year, in time for Russia’s celebration of the 76th anniversary of Victory Day on May 9.

The latest database is honoring citizens who helped with the defense of Moscow  during the war. A third of recipients were women and children. People who came from Yarolsav Region (north of Moscow Region) to construct defensive structures also received the medal.

More than one million people were awarded the For the Defense of Moscow medal. Those who received the medal can be found here, with scanned documents detailing their information. Personal details on these people can include their birth year, political party affiliation, nationality, employer and work title.

(Check out this video guide on using the database for those who are unfamiliar with Russian.)

The “For the Defense of Moscow” Medal database offers document scans for free and without registration. The scans can be downloaded in the same way as any English-language website. None of the subscription genealogy websites have this information or documents.

Award recipients can be searched just by last, first or patronymic name (such as Nikolaevich for a man whose father was Nikolai). A list of recipients appears when a Russian letter is clicked on but that is not the complete list of recipients for each letter.

So here are some tips on using the database without knowing Russian:

  • Have Google Translate in the next window for translating names. The results can be copied and pasted for translation.
  • Downloading the Google Translate app or another web browser translator for your device is highly recommended.
  • If Google Translate doesn’t work for certain names, try Transliterating English to Russian in One Step.
  • If results can’t be found on close relatives, try searching for cousins, no matter how distant. It sometimes takes a random cousin to bring new life to research.
  • Remember to swipe to the right to see all the documents on a person included in the database. The video guide shows how to do this.
  • Download any scans that could be on relatives or ancestors and save them in at least two places.

Once records are found, many Facebook genealogy groups for Russian and Eastern European genealogy are available to help with translating documents.

Here is a sample document from the database:

More ambitious souls can retype the Russian text with this online keyboard and copy and paste the text into Google Translate to read the information in English.

This database is just the beginning of documenting citizens’ efforts to help the Soviet Union win the war. Last year, a similar database was posted for the defense of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg).

The database documented about 67,000 people in May 2020 and now the database has grown to almost 180,000 documented medal recipients.

These medals also were given to civilians in Odessa (Ukraine), Sevastopol, Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Caucasus, Transartic and Kyiv (Ukraine). Hopefully, databases for civilians who received the medal in these cities will appear online in the near future.

Follow this blog with the top right button to hear about the latest news in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy research, including new databases and updates to important databases.

Related posts:
Database reveals details on citizens, evacuees and soldiers from the Siege of Leningrad
New Soviet Era database releases free documents on more than 1 million citizens
New WWII databases reveal amazing information, honoring 75th anniversary of victory
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy