Today is Sunday and a day off for most of us. Although a few members were leaving for Minsk today to head home the rest of us took the opportunity to get together as a group and we went for a BBQ and history lesson in the woods.
Here is a group photo of those with us in the morning:
In the spring the forest floor is blanketed with blue and white flowers whose Russian name means “under the snow”:
We went to a remote location in the woods called Benova. During World War 2 Stalin dressed every citizen of Benova in uniform (without weapons) and had them approach the Germans at the front in order to divert their attention from the real attack which came from a different direction. Of course the Germans killed the entire town … over 1800 people! This memorial is a mass grave for the people of this town:
It was very quiet and peaceful, yet very moving. In the lists of names were groups of 5, 6 or 7 all with the same last names … whole families:
In 2006 the bodies of 94 unknown soldiers were found in the woods and a grave dedicated to them was added to this memorial:
The statue at the memorial shows both a man and a woman and the woman is carrying a gun. Belarus was one of the only countries where the woman fought along side of the men:
While we were looking at the memorial our drivers prepared a BBQ feast for us:
After the BBQ we headed back to Chausy and stopped at a place where the trenches from WW2 were still visible. It was another eerie reminder of the horrors of war … to stand in the woods and imagine the fear and horror that took place here:
One of our drivers pulled out a small shovel and within a couple of minutes had unearthed several bullets:
It was a quiet ride back to Chausy!