Impressions from a past research journey in 2016 and 2017
Fifty-six million people died during the Second World War; civilians, soldiers, and partisans. Every state and nation mourns and remembers their dead through monuments, remembrance days, authentic sites of memory, and cemeteries. Soldiers, as the largest group of the war dead, are glorified, victimized, or condemned. The cemeteries and mass graves that serve as their resting places reflect official national narratives of the Second World War.
During my research for my PhD thesis “German Soldiers Graves of WWII” I conducted material in the Leningrad area and visited memorial sites at the former battlefield. On these fields, both Soviet and Germans soldiers lost their lives and were buried in graves close to each other. These burial grounds represent opposing memories and disparate treatments of fallen Second World War soldiers. The landscape of Leningrad offers two perspectives and two blueprints of memory between victimhood and heroism, between grief and triumph.