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* Unveiling of the National Memorial to the Soviet Armed Partisans in Belgium - 1944 - 2019 *

National Memorial to the Soviet Armed Partisans in Belgium - 1944-2019

* The Memorial
* Ceremony of unveiling - 12/10/2019)
* History of the Soviet Partisans in Belgium
* Soviet P.A. graves in Belgium

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Ceremony of unveiling - Rebecq, October 12, 2019 to Rebecq

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View the TV coverages of the ceremony here

Slideshow of photos here below

Saturday 12 October 2019 was held the inauguration ceremony of the National Memorial to Soviet Armed Partisans in Belgium - 1944-2019. The event took place at the cemetery of Rebecq (Walloon Brabant) in the presence of Mr. Alexander Tokovinine, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Belgium, Mr. Dmitri Borodin, Minister-Counselor, Colonel Sergey Kapushkin, Military Attaché and Igor Minaev, Attaché, all representing the Russian Embassy.

The Russian government had delegated Mr. Alexander Kinshtein, Deputy to the Duma, Mr. Konstantin Mogilevskiy, Director of the Historical and Patriotic Foundation of Russia and Mrs Maria Pushkova, Rector of the Benelux Study Centre of the University of Moscow

Lieutnant-Colonel Claude Michel represented the "Souvenir Français", our partner. On the Belgian side, we had the pleasure and honour of welcoming Mr. André Falhaut, Minister of State representing the Parliament, Mr. Gilles Mahieu, Governor of the Province of Walloon Brabant, Major Richard de Hennin, Representing the Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs and the Military Command of the Province of Walloon Brabant, Mr. Deputy Dimitri Legasse, for the Walloon Region and Mrs Patricia Venturelli Mayor of Rebecq accompanied by the town Council of Rebecq Rebecq.

The celebration was attended by Russian and Belgian associations, as well as their flag-bearers and a large audience. Students from the Rebecq School and the Russian School in Brussels were also there and actively participated in the celebration process.

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Jean-Pierre Bauwens, Standard-bearer of the association

Inaugurating the Memorial consisting of a memorial plaque placed above the tomb of Soviet soldier Vladimir Talda, who died in action on 3 September 1944 during the Battle of the Liberation of Rebecq, we celebrated the memory of all soldiers of Soviet origin who, after being taken prisoner on the Eastern Front, during the battles of Stalingrad, had been taken captive to Belgium by the Nazis to work in coal mining in the mines of Hainaut, Liège and Limburg.

At the initiative of this Memorial, "The Belgians Remember Them" had wished to unite the municipality of Rebecq in the project. This inauguration ceremony is the result of a partnership between the two institutions.undreds of them escaped and put themselves at the service of the Belgian resistance fighters in order to continue fighting the occupier.

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Wilfred Burie, the speaker


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The Russian cameramen


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After greeting those present, Wilfred Burie, representing the association "The Belgians Remember Them", asks Patricia Venturelli to deliver her speech, which reads:

Greetings
Today’s ceremony is an opportunity to remember or discover a page of the history of our country and our Commune, a page of history that many of our fellow Belgians and Rebecquois often do not know.
In 1944, some fifteen young Russian soldiers who had been taken prisoner on the Eastern Front by the Germans and sent to Belgium to work in the mines, escape and end up in Rebekah where they will be taken care of by the Resistance which will hide them in several farms of our commune.
In September 1944, on the occasion of the Montgras fights for the release of Rebecq by elements of the Irish Guards, these young men will take part in the fight alongside the Armed Partisans Rebecquois. It was during these battles that Vladimir Talda, a 19-year-old Russian soldier, fell.
In remembering him today, we also pay tribute to all those Russian fighters who fought to defend a country that was not theirs. This ceremony is also an opportunity to pay tribute to all those men and women who fought for our country and for our freedom, whether they are soldiers or committed to the Resistance.
This ceremony is also an opportunity to pay tribute to all those men and women who fought for our country and for our freedom, whether they are soldiers or committed to the Resistance.
This tribute is even more important today in the difficult institutional context of our country where some rather than bring together seek to divide and forget that our country’s motto is “the Union makes the Force”.
I would like to conclude by thanking Mr Wilfred Burie, and The Belgians Remember Them and all of you for your presence on the occasion of this tribute.
Remember so as not to forget and not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

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Mrs. Patricia Venturelli, Mayor of Rebecq

It is then the turn of Mr. Gilles Mahieu, Governor of the Province of Walloon Brabant to deliver his speech:

Greetings
Let me begin by thanking you for the honour I have been given to be with you for the inauguration of this memorial dedicated to the Armed Partisans and more particularly to its Russian resistance fighters.
Vladimir Tolda fell not far from here during the fighting of September 1944. He was 19 years old. He is the symbol of these Russian prisoners deported to Belgium by the Nazi occupation in order, in particular, to work in the coal mines of Hainaut.
It is the symbol of these Russian prisoners who managed to escape and join the Armed Partisans thus actively participating in the armed resistance in Belgium.
Today, if we salute the memory of Vladimir and, through him, that of Mikhail, Jakov, Yuri, Piotr, Stefan, Vasil and all these compatriots, it is above all to not forget history with a great “H”
For while the duty of memory is important for the collective construction of our societies, it is nevertheless essential to rely on history as a scientific reconstruction of the past; an independent History that avoids any «official History» whim that chains the historian and amputates him of his freedom.
In this context, the history of these Russian resistance fighters within the Belgian Army of Partisans, an armed resistance movement emanating from the Belgian Communist Party, resonates all the more strongly.
In the hour of amalgamation and the rise in power of a certain historical relativism, it is more than ever necessary to appeal to history in order to always explain, analyze and illustrate; to equip our young people to face a world where fake news is set up as alternative truths.
In this sense, the uniqueness of Nazism and the Shoah cannot suffer any negationism or relativism, lest we lead ourselves into new terrible errors.
"It is in the void of thought that evil is written," said Hannah Arendt. So today, I take this opportunity to worry about the lack of history culture among too many of our contemporaries.
Also, Mr. Burie, I want to thank you very sincerely for this initiative to highlight this part of our sometimes little-known history.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This day is also an opportunity to pay tribute once again to those men and women who choose the light of freedom in the darkness of servitude. These men and women who committed themselves to resistance according to their means: André Kestemont, leader of the Armed Partisans Group for Rebecq and his region, Émile Boucher, Jeanne Rowart, the Shearers farmers, Ernault, Marsille and everyone else.
Just like these men and women who have stood up against all odds, let us always look to the future.
Let the memory of past sacrifices enlighten us and inspire us on the way

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Mr. Gilles Mahieu, Governor of the Province of Walloon Brabant

Finally, the speaker asked Mr. Alexander Tokoninine, Ambassador of Russia to come and speak:

Greetings
I stand before you with a strong heart, as is always the case as we recall the great tragedy of the Second World War. This memory is made of both the most terrible atrocities of the Nazis and the sacrifices of all those who fought against the Hitlerian occupier.
At the beginning of September, I had the privilege of attending several commemorative events on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Belgium. And I was very sensitive to the fact that every time the tribute was paid to the allied troops who had liberated your country, Belgian officials confirmed the inseparable role played by the Soviet Army on the road to victory. Indeed, without his accelerated offensive, the Battle of the Ardennes would have been much more painful. It is also noteworthy that in Europe, the American and British allies were facing about 60 German divisions while the Eastern Front held more than 200.
If I remind you of these facts, it is to reiterate the close link between the destinies of our peoples during the war, so that we cannot isolate both our defeats and our victories. The liberation of Brussels, Liège or Antwerp is part of the same heroic effort as the battles of Moscow, Leningrad or Stalingrad. This truth seemed obvious to the generation of war whose young soldier Vladimir Talda who, after escaping from the Nazi camp, joined the armed Partisans and, at the age of 19, sacrificed his life in the name of Belgium’s freedom. Moreover, this same logic guided the fighters of the Belgian Expeditionary Force of machine guns who participated, alongside their Russian brothers in arms, in the battles on the Eastern Front during the First World War.
In this regard, I salute the memorial work done by our host, The Belgians Remember Them. Thank you for highlighting the achievements of all the Soviet soldiers and officers who fought against the Nazis and fell on Belgian soil. I am personally very touched by your effort, Mr Burie.
May I at the same time express my sincere thanks to you, Mr Governor and Madam Mayor, and through you to all the provincial and local authorities of Wallonia for the care they bring to the graves of the sons of Russia.
A very symbolic moment makes our ceremony special. The deposition of flowers by Russian and Rebecquois schoolchildren is, in my opinion, a strong plea to maintain the “memory relay” of which we now have custody.
I am convinced that, as we approach the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, events such as ours are extremely important. Because they encourage us to relive our heritage

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The Ambassador of Russia, Mr. Alexander Tokovinine

Mr. Khinshtein, Deputy in the Duma (Lower House of the Parliament of the Russian Federation) had wished to speak.
He stressed the enormous sacrifices made by the Soviet people in the struggle against the invader. He then paid a sustained tribute to the heroic action of the resistant Belgians, with particular emphasis on their courage and determination to help escaped prisoners of war.
He concluded by emphasizing our common duty of memory, such as the barrier against the resurgence of Nazi ideologies or attempts to relativize the history of war.

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Mr. Kinshtein, Deputy of the Duma and Mr. Igor Minaev who translates him

Before continuing the planned program, Wilfred Burie addresses the Ambassador:
Mr Ambassador, If fate had not struck the one who lies before us, he could have been present among us; He was only 19 when he was killed near here.
Among us is a person who knew this man. This is Mrs Maryse Kestemont, who is now 90 years old and who is the daughter of the leader of the network Partisans Armés of Rebecq who took charge of the team of Soviet soldiers escaped from the Louvière colliery. Allow me to introduce her.

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Maryse Kestemont and the Russian Ambassador together: evocation and emotion

After the laying of flowers, the bell "Aux Champs!" rang, followed by the minute of silence.
During this one, Florentin Renotte, a 7-year-old pupil of Rebecq, sounded the 11 knocks on a gong. It was a moving moment in that ceremony when everyone was thinking of those whose memories were being honoured.
The ceremony ended with the Rusian, European and Belgian anthems

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The Russian and Belgian pupils bringing wraiths to the authorities for the laying of flowers

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The Russian and Belgian pupils after having laid flowers in Remembrance

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Florentin bells death-knell during the minute of silence

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The Russian and Belgian pupils

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Salute!



Slideshow of photos taken by Charly Keppens

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Slideshow of photos taken by Roland Martens

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