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Moscow Journal: A River of Pictures of the Dead From Russia’s Sacred War

May 9, 2018

He recalled seeing his own grandfather, who lost both legs in the war, put on his prosthetics in the morning, and said this personal experience shaped his view of war. At the marches now, “this side of war is not described to children,” he said.

As they gained official support, the Immortal Regiment marches have tended to include symbols unrelated to family history, like Soviet flags and portraits of Stalin. To boost numbers of people walking with pictures during at least one march last year in Kazan, a city east of Moscow, organizers handed out images of veterans to those who showed up without a family portrait.

Moscow Journal: A River of Pictures of the Dead From Russia’s Sacred WarMoscow Journal: A River of Pictures of the Dead From Russia’s Sacred War

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But given the searing memories of loss and suffering in so many families, the opportunity to honor a relative has remained popular, even among people discouraged by the official pomp. The Immortal Regiment marches have grown in size every year.

Pavel’s father, Aleksandr I. Mramornov, said he appreciated the march but wished Russians would also remember the victims of political repression. “This action is helping families remember,” he said. “But why do we choose which victims to remember?”

At the schoolyard march, Pavel carried the portrait of his great-great-grandfather, Andrei A. Fofanov, a stern-looking man in a military cap who might have faded from family memory but for the annual ceremony.

Mr. Fofanov was a schoolteacher before the war. He died at 40. The family does not know where or how.

“I don’t know a lot about him,” Pavel said. “He was a very educated person. He worked at a school. He died in the war. He is in my heart.”

Sophia Kishkovsky and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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