This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The remains of more than 500 men, women, and children executed by Nazi troops during World War II have been reburied in Russia’s northwestern region of Novgorod as the country commemorates Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union.
A June 22 ceremony marked the Day of Memory and Sorrow in the village of Zhestyanaya Gorka, where the remains of hundreds of people were discovered last year. Further investigations revealed that the people found at several sites were executed during the Nazi occupation in 1942-1943.
Last month, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a probe into the “genocide of the residents of the Novgorod and Pskov regions.”
On June 22, as all flags on Russian territory were flown at half-staff, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a group of World War II veterans laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall.
The Defense Ministry said that servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces at all military units and facilities across Russia observed a minute of silence to honor the memory of the war heroes at 12:15 p.m. Moscow time.
The Soviet Union’s death toll in World War II was the highest among all countries involved in the war. According to official data, in all, the Soviet Union lost some 27 million people between 1941-1945. However, some experts and historians disagree, saying that the total is actually higher.