Russia Revisits Pivotal Role in World War I

tags: World War I, Russia




Anyone looking for human traces of World War I in Russia is well advised to start on the Moscow metro, specifically the green line, which runs to the river port where day-trippers cast off for trips up the Volga River. But you have to get out three stations before that, in Sokol.

It's a walk of 400 meters, away from the noise of Leningradsky Prospekt, through a gate and past the Church of All Saints in Vsekhsvyatskoye and across a small street to a park that opens up between two tall residential buildings. It is one of the many green spaces that provides a bit of fresh air to Moscow's 14 million residents.

As in all parks in the city, mothers push their strollers through fallen leaves and elderly women walk their dogs. There are joggers, pick-up football games and people talking on their mobile phones. And yet this park is special due to a slab of red granite that stands alone in the middle of an open field. White letters engraved into the stone read: "Sergei Alexandrovich Schlichter, student at the University of Moscow, born on Dec. 31, 1894, wounded in battle on June 20, 1916 near Baranovichi, died on June 25, 1916."

Nowhere else in Russia is there such a stone, bearing the name of a soldier who fell in World War I. The almost 2 million Russians who died in the conflict have disappeared from the country's memory -- because the "Great War," as it was once called here, long found no place in the historical narrative mandated from above.

So why did Sergei Schlichter's monument manage to avoid the censors?...




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