New WWII databases reveal amazing information, honoring 75th anniversary of victory

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 Explosion of Partisan, 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 rgaspi@inbox.ru. 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.

Some people on this database can be found on Memory of the People  but others are only found on A Book of Memory.

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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Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy

Major update to WWII database honors 75th victory anniversary

This is a major year to remember the victorious end of World War II. Russian military archives are not forgetting the importance of this year.

The amount of information Russian military archives have added to their database, Memory of the People: 1941-1945, is worth celebrating. Here is more information on the project in English on the millions of records scanned and uploaded to this database to document the soldiers of WWII from the former USSR.

About 25 million more records have been added to the database. The newest update covers:

  • 8 million records from military personnel listings,
  • 6.9 million records on war veterans from the officer’s record-keeping file,
  • 1.7 million records from navy files,
  • 5 million records of conscription and demobilization from military registration and enlistment office documents,
  • 1.39 million entries from burial records and documents of losses and prisoners of war and
  • 2 million records of the passage of military personnel through reserve regiments.

The search page for this database can be seen in English but Google Translate is needed for copying and pasting the keywords in Russian. Not one English-language website has this information so it is well worth the effort for anyone who had relatives or ancestors in the USSR’s military.

The type of information that can be found on soldiers includes full name, date of birth, place of birth, location for call of duty, map of the individual’s battle route and awards received, with photos of awards and scans of original documents. The website allows documents to be saved by clicking on the disk button on the bottom right.

Check out the search page in English.

Here’s how to take advantage of this database.

  • Have Google Translate in the next window for translating names and places. The results can be copied and pasted for translation. Downloading Google Translate for your device is highly recommended.
  • If Google Translate doesn’t work for certain names, try Transliterating English to Russian in One Step.
  • Start the search with as much information as possible. If results don’t appear, take away one search keyword at a time.
  • Remember that towns and villages can be spelled different than personally known. The birthplace of my great-grandfather is listed in two different neighborhoods and spelled randomly with an o and a on the end in results.
  • Open a Microsoft Word or text document for copying and pasting results. It is best to save the results somewhere so the search doesn’t have to be redone. Also, keep a list of people, surnames and villages/towns searched in a document.
  • If results can’t be found on direct relatives, try searching for cousins, no matter how distant. It sometimes takes a random cousin to open up research doors.
  • Remember the importance of patronymic names (Slavic middle names in honor of the father). If particular people can’t be found, look for people with the same surnames and patronymic names from the same village and town. Those people could be unknown siblings of relatives or close cousins.
  • Keep a close eye on the results because names of places duplicate throughout the former USSR. You’ll need to know the neighborhood (rayon) and region (oblast) where your relatives lived.
  • In case typos have occurred, it is recommended to search solely by village or town. Copy and paste the village or town name translated in Russian into the place of birth search box to view everyone who is included in the database from that place.
  • Make screen shots of positive and potential results.

No matter the results you found or didn’t, it is worth trying. Getting used to searching Russian websites is an important skill for anyone researching in the former USSR.

It took me several years to gain the skills to search these sites and understand Russian and Ukrainian websites. All that effort has returned into the gift of many success stories I never imagined could ever happen in my journey.

Russian military archives have been updating their WWII databases for several years now. Remember to click on follow this blog on the top right to learn about the latest database updates and new guides on improving success in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

Related posts:
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New WWII Soviet Army database gives faces to veterans

Russia will be going all out for the 75th anniversary of WWII’s Allied victory. That benefits anyone who had ancestors or relatives in the Soviet Army during WWII.

Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has created a new database called Road of Memory, offering photos of WWII Soviet Army veterans.

The database was started in the late spring and has been growing each day by several hundred. Road of Memory is close to having 300,000 veterans documented with their personal photos. (Update: It’s about to tip over to about 2 million, as of May 2020.)

Each page on veterans has a link to the Memory of the People database, which details 18 million awards given to Soviet Army servicepeople.

It is well worth checking if anyone has posted photos of relatives and ancestors who served in WWII. Some people have posted additional information on the lives of their relatives who served in the Soviet Army.

The new database also is perfect for anyone who has photos of unfamiliar Soviet Army soldiers who need their service story completed more fully.

Road of Memory can be searched just by first name, patronymic name (middle name in honor of the father such as Ivanovich and Vasilevich), or last name. This works great when exact full name spellings are not known.

Here’s how to use the database:

  1. If you don’t know Russian, use Google Translate or Stephen Morse’s website for translating names into Russian.
  2. Copy the names into the box that says найти героя on the top right.
  3. Open each result link in a new window. If you don’t, the website requires you to restart the search.
  4. Copy and paste all text into Google Translate to see it in English.

If useful matches aren’t found, repeat the steps a few times a month. This database is growing on a daily basis.

Road of Memory is likely just the beginning of more online material on WWII soldiers. It wouldn’t surprise me if a large collection of Soviet Army military records is added online next year in honor of the 75th anniversary.

Follow this blog with the top right button to learn about news on important databases.

Related posts:
Millions of records added to WWII database (with a guide for searching the 18 million file database)
Free database on WWII soldiers grows by more than 5 million records
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker

 

Free database on WWII soldiers grows by more than 5 million records

Anyone researching their relatives and ancestors who served in World War II for the Soviet Union has more hope to find military records online for free.

More than 5 million records recently have been added to the Memorial database for soldiers who died, went missing or became prisoners of war. The website doesn’t require any registration.

Each entry on soldiers can include their full name, birthdate or birth year, place of birth, date and place of recruitment, last place of service, military rank, and reason service ended. The records of soldiers can be saved as jpeg or pdf files. Directions are listed at the end of this post.

Yes, the database is in Russian but there are free online translator programs that can switch the Russian to English (keep on reading). The search page has the keyword box titles in English but the keywords must be in Russian. An English version of the database nor any database on USSR WWII veterans don’t exist anywhere.

Here is an example of results that will be missed for those who don’t want to try a Russian website:

Here’s how to use the database without knowing Russian:

  1. Download the Google Translate web browser application for Chrome here and Firefox here.
  2. If you don’t use that application, open the next browser window into Google Translate for easier switching between windows.
  3. Type your relative’s or ancestor’s name and birthplace into Google Translate and have it translated into Russian. If Google Translate doesn’t work, try this website instead.
  4. Copy and paste the keywords into the proper keyword boxes and then click on search.
  5. The results will appear in Russian for those not using the Google Translate web browser application. Copy and paste the results into Google Translate.
  6. Once you see a potential match, click on the link and then copy and paste the text into Google Translate.
  7. The document below the text providing details on the soldier can be saved as a jpeg file by clicking on the disk symbol or saved as a pdf file by clicking on the file symbol with PDF written in red. The link to the individual soldier’s page can be copied by clicking on the link symbol.

Once that information is downloaded, the next step is to search for relatives and ancestors in the Memory of the People database, which has information and records on recipients of WWII medals and other honors. The same steps taken on the Memorial database can be used for this database, in addition to free databases here.

This all takes some effort but it is well worth the effort when the documents are posted online for free. Getting used to combining language translator programs with Russian military websites is a great skill worth maintaining.

The Russian government is determined to post online as many WWII records and soldiers’ information as possible. The updates to WWII databases will continue on a regular basis to honor the soldiers who made the sacrifices for the USSR.

Follow this blog with the top right button to learn about new and updated databases.

Related posts:
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Databases of Soviet Army soldiers as POWs provide wealth of information

Millions of records added to WWII database

World War II ended 73 years ago and the Russian government is making sure the war stays fresh in people’s minds. That comes at a great advantage for those researching their relatives who served in the Soviet Army.

The latest update to Memory of the People adds 18 million service records, 1.3  million award records and 900,000 killed in action records to the database that has grown to about 70 million records.

To easily work through the website, here are some translations: фамилия: last name; имя: first name; отчество: patronymic name (middle name from the father, i.e. Ivanovich); год рождения: birth year; and воинское звание: military rank.

To view the search page in English, use this link. (Click on specify if the search boxes don’t appear.) The keywords still need to be in Russian. Keywords can translated from English to Russian by using Google Translate or Transliterating English to Russian in One Step.

Here’s a look at the search page:

This may seem like a lot of work but it will be a very long time before this information is posted in English, due to the politics and work involved.

This database allows researchers to avoid searching for the Russian military archives website, writing to the archives for information and waiting weeks for a response that will read that the information is posted free online.

Russian Military Archives provides a guide to this database in English here. The entire website can be used viewed in English through Google Translate, using this link.

For those ready to search this incredible database, here are some tips for more successful results.

  1. Open a Microsoft Word or text document for copying and pasting results. It is best to save the results somewhere so the search doesn’t have to be redone. Also, keep a list of people, surnames and villages/towns searched in a document.
  2. Start searching with all known information here. (Click on specify if the search boxes don’t appear.)
  3. If results don’t appear or good matches aren’t found, slowly eliminate keywords until more results appear.
  4. Copy and paste the results into Google Translate to see them in English.
  5. In case typos have occurred, it is recommended to search solely by village or town. Copy and paste the Russian translated village or town name into the place of birth search box to view everyone who is included in the database from that town or village.
  6. Keep a close eye on the results because names of places duplicate throughout the former USSR. You’ll need to know the neighborhood (rayon) and region (oblast) where your relatives lived.

Remember to keep trying. The joy of finding information in Russian databases is amazing. So much can be learned when facing challenges, even if it’s just the challenge of the Russian language.

Follow this blog by clicking on the top right button for more news on databases and other resources.

Check out more free databases here. The free information doesn’t end here.