The village of Rossoshka (Россошка) is about 20 miles northwest of the centre of Volgograd, close to Gumrak International Airport. It was destroyed in heavy fighting in late August 1942, when the 87th Rifle Division of the Soviet 62nd Army held up the advance of the German 35th Infantry Division for a week, and there were further fierce battles in January 1943, as the Germans tried to defend Gumrak, their last link to the outside.
The Russian cemetery, which has the somewhat unwieldy official name of “The Military-Memorial Cemetery of Soviet Soldiers who died at Stalingrad during the Great Patriotic War” (Военно-мемориальное кладбище советских солдат, погибших под Сталинградом в годы Великой Отечественной войны), was officially opened on August 23, 1997. At that time, the remains of 808 Soviet soldiers had been reburied in a mass grave. Over the following years, the cemetery has greatly expanded and it now contains 24 mass graves and over 300 individual plots, holding the remains of over 15,000 soldiers. The central memorial is a stylised statue of a woman holding a bell above her head. It was sculpted by Sergei Shcherbakov, and a smaller version can be seen at the Soviet Memorial outside the Imperial War Museum in London. The memorial’s web site (in Russian only) is here.
The German cemetery, which was opened on May 15, 1999, lies directly across the road. It is centred around a large, circular mass grave that contains the remains of about 55,000 soldiers. Over 100 large granite cubes are scattered across the complex, inscribed with the names of over 100,000 German soldiers still listed as missing.
The cemetery is maintained by Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, the organisation that oversees all German war graves and memorials on foreign soil.
Also in Volgograd:
- 70th Anniversary Celebrations
- Victory Day Street Decorations
- Hall of Military Glory
- The Grain Elevator
- The Motherland Calls