On the second day of his visit to the Don Bend in Russia, Minister of Defence Dr. István Simicskó paid tribute at a WWII memorial and in the two Hungarian central military cemeteries.

While paying tribute in the 2nd Hungarian Central Military Cemetery in Rudkino, the minister also placed the flowers of remembrance at the graves of two soldiers, as the Ministry of Defence recently had their names engraved on granite plaques at their next of kin’s request.

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In his speech delivered during the commemorative event, István Simicskó reiterated that as minister of defence, he holds it important to pay at least one visit to the Don Bend, where a total of around 125,000 Hungarian troops fell, were wounded or went missing in the Second World War.

“A number of questions may be raised as to what some 200,000 Hungarian troops were doing here, almost 1500 kilometers from Hungary”, the minister added, and went on pointing out that “one thing is sure: they lost their lives in a pointless war”.

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István Simicskó also said that his two grandfathers had been brought here to the front. They were lucky to return home, and described the Russians as kind and warm-hearted people, the minister emphasized, adding that in addition to commemoration, another reason for his coming here for a visit was to strengthen friendship between the two nations.

Speaking on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Defence, General Valery Kudinsky pointed out that in January 1943, the Hungarians were discharging their military duty at the Don Bend when they lost their lives. He underlined that they must be remembered, and the young generations must also be made to remember them, so that no such war can occur again.

The general expressed thanks to the Hungarian head of government, the minister of defence and Hungary for preserving, in a worthy way too, the memory of Soviet troops fallen in Hungary.

In the morning of Friday, an ecumenical service was also held in the 2nd Hungarian Central Military Cemetery, where Catholic, Protestant and Jewish representatives of the Ministry of Defence Military Chaplain Service said prayers in honor of the soldiers fallen in World War II.

In the area of Russia, so far WWII memorials and cemeteries have been built at 369 different places. The mortal remains of the 28,000 Hungarian soldiers exhumed so far in areas of operations have been buried in the two central military cemeteries which are built in the Don Bend, the one-time site of the fiercest battles.  In Voronezh, the 1st Hungarian Central Military Cemetery was built 20 years ago, and the 2nd Hungarian Central Military Cemetery was inaugurated 15 years ago. István Simicskó visited Voronezh on the occasion of these two anniversaries.

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The 2nd Hungarian Central Military Cemetery contains the reburied mortal remains of 19,540 dead Hungarian soldiers and forced laborers. This is the first – and to date, the only – cemetery of Hungarian heroes in Russia where the reburied victims’ names by settlements are also engraved on granite plaques, and the memory is symbolically preserved also of those soldiers whose fate is unknown but who are known to have gone missing or died during battles in the area. Here, the more than 1400 granite plaques include the names of more than 12,000 dead Hungarian soldiers and forced laborers, as well as more than 51,000 Hungarian troops missing in action.

The 2nd Army of the Royal Hungarian Defence Forces suffered severe annihilating losses from the Soviet forces during the battles fought in the area of Voronezh in January 1943.

(Ministry of Defence/MTI)