As the Germans seek out a fighter second world war

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

Erwin Kovalko knows German television about the fate of the people in them dig out trenches

On the territory of today's Germany and Poland, as a number of countries in Eastern Europe, is in the land of more than 1.2 million German fighter of the second world war, who are unaccounted for after the fighting in those places. German Erwin retired Kovalko (Erwin Kowalke) and his assistant Joachim Kozlowski of Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK) for many years seek out the remains of the fallen soldier, identified and buried them in cemeteries.

Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK) — The National Association for Search, identification and burial of the dead soldier in Germany was created in 1919. Since Germany has been an active participant in both world wars, the shortcomings in the work of employees in the organization (there are only a few hundred people, not counting volunteers) do not.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

Remains German soldier in special sarcophagi

Work in the VDK Kovalko began in 1980, and at the present time he is collaborating with her as an independent expert. In three 10-ka, he turned into the 1st of the leading professionals in the field. At the very Kovalko father died in France in 1944, and he believes that war will end only when the last to be buried fighter. In East Germany, where he lived, all the soldiers of Wehrmacht number of offenders, and because no one was interested in finding and identifying the dead soldiers. Excavations conducted at your own risk enthusiasts — usually under the "roof" of various church organizations that supported the VDK.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

Once a year Kovalko helps identify hundreds of German soldiers

Since 1990, after the collapse of the communist regime and the absorption of the GDR, Erwin Kovalko and his colleagues were able to begin full-scale operation, initially in the area between Berlin and today the German-Polish border. Here, in their most conservative estimates, not buried lie about 120-150 thousand people who died in a matter of days. Only on the Seelow Heights, where Russian troops began storming the concrete Berlin lay of the land and 50 thousand unidentified soldiers and officers. About a third — it was the Germans, others — Russian and Polish soldiers. On average, there unburied on 1 German fighter hits the Russian 2-3.

2nd place large mass graves of unidentified remains — is Halbe cauldron on the Oder, where Russian troops in April 1945, surrounded by tattered in battles on the Seelow heights of the German 9th Army and 4th Panzer Army.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

In special coffins are buried not only the fallen soldier, and the remains of dead civilians inhabitants

According to witnesses, there were, though fleeting, but to inflame the terrible fights (the Germans associate them with Stalingrad), and the loss of this battle is really no one believed. How to say German researchers in the ground there is 60-80 thousand soldiers and officers, half of which — the Germans. For example, only in 1993, searchers dug out here about 8 thousand people, then, the truth, the rate declined, but each year Halbe "gives" a few hundred people.

Fighter Kovalko often finds with a metal detector — as experience shows, next to the fallen soldiers is quite a lot of metal: the gun, helmets, etc. subjects. Findings come and call on: bone and Rusted gun found during system works. From time to time, and help local residents who have kept a memoir of graves or accidentally buried trenches in which the men were lying.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

Found another soldier Wehrmacht

In the service of VDK Kovalko considered one of the "champions" — for the past 20 years, he "dug" about 30 thousand fighter and officers. All in all, once a year in Germany and Eastern Europe (first in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland) with the participation of VDK exhumed and sails away to the identification of up to 35-45 thousand soldiers who died during the second world war (in 2010 — over 46 thousand, in 2009 — more than 42 thousand). For comparison — in the area of Belgium, France, the Netherlands at the moment exhumed once a year only a few 10-s Wehrmacht — others already identified and buried in military cemeteries. In Eastern Europe since 1992 has been built on cemeteries and reburied identified 574 thousand German fighter (not counting those whose identity has not been established).

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

In 1989, the German Democratic Republic to search and exhumation of the dead soldier lured Army

Just after the end of the war in 1945 by enthusiasts, as VDK (it acted lawfully in West Germany, East Germany — unofficially) failed to clarify the fate of 3.2 million individual Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, and paramilitary Third Reich, which were considered missing missing or dead.

German search engines and VDK started working in Eastern Europe and the republics of the former Soviet Union after 1991. In Russia, the creation of German military cemeteries were allowed under Boris Yeltsin, in spite of the resistance of the native Communists and patriots.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

Huge thanks to this loss of military labor in Germany during the second world war as a whole are known on a good ev
idence-level (if we talk about the devastated and destroyed by the state). For comparison — in Russia until the early 90-ies of the last century did not have any statistics on losses during the second world war (total number of losses to within the boundaries of millions, each time increasing, the communist authorities descended from the top), and the activities of search groups was the end of the 80-ies of the last century, in fact banned. More familiar with how to date in the Russian situation with this, it is possible here.

To find the remains of identifying Kovalko and his colleagues fit with German thoroughness. At each "discovery" and reburial, a separate act, in which all parts are specified. From time to time the remains of the German fighter found in the tombs of soldiers of the Red Army.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

The German Wehrmacht Referral Service (Deutsche Dienststelle der ehemaligen Wehrmachtsauskunftsstelle (WASt)) painstakingly collected all the real finds from archaeological sites — individual medals, documents, badges, pins, medals, coins, etc. things. Things are documented acts drawn up, which then helps to identify the remains of the Wehrmacht soldier, have not found any tokens. All the finds are stored in a special vault in Berlin.

The German government, through the Ministry of Defense, and personal and corporate donors absolutely paid search, identification and burial of the fallen soldiers and officers Third Reich. Once a year, Germany spends only for these purposes (excluding the content of military monuments and cemeteries) to several 10-s million euros (VDK budget is around 13-14 million euros year). In general, the lion fraction of the work carried out by volunteers who do not receive any money for it.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

So looks archive WASt with card indexes for each soldier Wehrmacht

The most difficult part of the German officials to identify the Wehrmacht soldier appear to those who died in 1945. The premise is the loss or destruction of lists of servicemen, because the data for this period are for the most valuable search engines. In 2010, 92 German soldiers and officers dug Kovalko in the same trench, for example, managed to identify only 28. For the rest of archivists will sweat.

Typically, search engines are almost always manage to avoid confusions with accessories remains.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

— This Teuton, about 20 years old, hardly more — says Erwin Kovalko, demonstrating preserved on the jaw. — And these remains belong to the Russian soldier, approximately coeval German. By the way, in 90% of cases it is possible to identify the true identity soldier immediately on the teeth — teeth are the least among the Germans skived than Russian. Affects the difference in the type of food and dental care.

Great help in the identification of victims — soldiers tokens. Thanks to them, can not establish the name and the name of the soldier, as a military unit to which the deceased served.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

Hugest fear search engine — it does not locate any soldier who died in that war. The war will end when all the men will be buried properly, he says. Because Erwin Kovalko tries, and the ranks of the soldiers' graves at the cemetery Halbe (created in 1951) grow.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

The remains of a dead Russian and Polish fighter sent to the military cemetery where soldiers from the Soviet Union and the Polish units. All data sent to look for the men in Russia or Poland. In general, the identification of the remains of Russian — it is very difficult, since individual tokens Army soldiers Stalin did not rely (as opposed to the royal army soldier RF), which consequently makes it difficult to separate accounting of the dead. According to the German search engines to find the remains of some Russian fighter with a severe identity — the more unique.

As the Germans were looking for World War II soldiers

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