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.
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