Coronavirus is not stopping the online celebration of the 75th anniversary of WWII’s victory.
Three databases have gone online, in addition to an explosion of soldier photos of men and women who served in the Soviet Army on a WWII database. Those who don’t know Russian are highly recommended to download a language translator app such as Google Translate and use this website or Google Translate for translating keywords.
The information on these databases cannot be found in English anywhere. All websites are free of fees and registration requirements.
Saint Petersburg Archives has created a database of more than 67,000 civilian recipients of “For the Defense of Leningrad” medals. The database, searchable by last name, year of birth or place of employment, provides downloadable scans of award documents for each recipient.
“It (the medal) was awarded to active participants in the heroic defense of the city on the Neva – all those who, despite hunger and cold, shelling and bombing, stood by the machine, extinguished incendiary bombs, nursed the wounded, dug trenches, supported the urban economy, taught and cared for children, holding thereby personal victory in the battle for Leningrad,” says the website.
The Soviet government gave the award to 1.47 million recipients (according to Wikipedia) so the database is a work in progress.
That medal also was given to civilians in Odessa (Ukraine), Sevastopol, Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Caucasus, Transartic and Kyiv (Ukraine). My hope is databases for civilians who received the same medal in the other cities will appear online in the near future.
Another great database added for researching WWII is The Feat of the Partisans, based on documents from the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement at the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command.
Information on more than 8,500 people awarded for their involvement in the war’s partisan movement are detailed in the database, which also is a work on progress.
This database can be easily searched by surname. Information provided on award recipients can include full name, birth year, place for call of service, place of residence, partisan group name, award presented, presenter of award and file location of record.
Requests to obtain scans of records can be sent to email@example.com. It is highly recommended to write in Russian.
So far, most WWII databases from Russia have focused on soldiers of the Soviet Army. This is a great step toward recognizing all the people who helped in the war effort.
The other database comes from the Republic of Belarus- A Book of Memory, an effort by the Office to Perpetuate the Memory of Defenders of the Fatherland and Victims of Wars of the Armed Forces of Belarus.
The database provides information on people who died in Belarus during WWII and those who came from Belarus and died elsewhere during WWII. Users can find the following information in the database: full name, year of birth, place of birth, place of call of duty, place of service, position, date of death, cause of death, burial number and place of burial.
Those seeking information on their relatives or ancestors from Belarus will need to look page by page or know their full name- first, patronymic (name derived from father’s first name such as Ivanovich) and surname.
The other great news for WWII databases is the explosion of photos posted to Road of Memory, which has an estimated 2 million photos of men and women who served in the Soviet Army. Numerous photos are being posted everyday, with a noticeable amount of female soldier photos.
I wrote about Road of Memory back in October, when there were only 300,000 photos posted to the database. Users only can search by name. I search by surname and patronymic name or surname and first name to make the results more specific.
The photos on Road of Memory also can be found on Memory of the People, which is much easier to search. It is very touching to see pictures of soldiers from the villages of my great-grandparents. (I explain how to search Memory of the People without knowing Russian in this post.)
These photos can be used to find facial similarities with known relatives or find potential relatives. I highly recommend bookmarking soldiers’ pages to regularly check for posted photos.
Last Sunday, a woman who posted her grandfather’s photo on Road of Memory e-mailed me. I saw that photo last Saturday while searching my 7th-great-grandfather’s surname in the database for soldiers from my great-grandfather’s village.
The Luxembourg woman saw my post on her grandfather’s surname on the largest Russian-language genealogy forum, All Russia Forum. Thanks to the database and forum, we will try to connect our family trees. Making the switch to Russian-language sites for genealogy really has its perks.
The news in WWII databases from the Russian-speaking world doesn’t end here. Last week, Germany handed over about 20,000 scans to Russian military archives on soldiers who were German POWs. The scans are expected to provide information on millions of soldiers, according to news reports.
It won’t be surprising if even more databases will go online this year, in addition to the new POW scans. The newest databases also will continue to grow.
The opportunities to make amazing discovers are available to those willing to try these Russian databases with language translators. Those who try will eventually have bragging rights.
Follow this blog with the top right button to learn about new databases posted online and important updates to WWII-related databases.
See more free databases here.
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