Terrible pain of Trostenets

For Inessa Kulago the war represents not only horrible events from 70 years ago but memories alive today

For Inessa Kulago (in the photo to the right) the war represents not only horrible events from 70 years ago but memories alive today.

Recalling Trostenets childhood horrors

In 1943, the Nazis took her, aged 3, with her mother, from Mogilev to a compulsory labour camp, beside the German small village of Hannover. She slept on a plank bed and five rows of barbed wire separated her from the other world, where she watched a woman on a balcony watering flowers. Inessa remembers this idyll, seen as she returned from the camp kitchen, carrying with several rutabagas in the hem of her skirt. However, before she had time to tell her mother of this beautiful sight, she was seized. On her knees, Inessa’s mother begged the camp commander not to shoot her young daughter. Recollecting the memory, Inessa cannot hold back her tears.

We stand before a monument in memory of the prisoners of the death camp, in the village of Bolshoi Trostenets, near Minsk, which recently hosted a memorial ceremony honouring all those who died in Nazi torture cells.

Inessa Kulago is the Chair of the Zavodskaya regional organisation of the Belarusian Association of Former Juvenile Prisoners of Fascism. Victims of Nazi camps from all over Minsk were sent to Bolshoi Trostenets, including many youngsters. Members of the BRSM (Belarusian Republican Youth Union) joined those who lived through the horror of those camp days, in laying flowers.

Alexander Shestakov, the Head of Ideology, Culture and Youth Affairs, in the Zavodskoy District of Minsk, notes that the International Day of Liberating Prisoners of Fascist Concentration Camps is celebrated on April 11th: as fixed by the United Nations in memory of prisoners liberated from Buchenwald.

Memory Gate memorial

Young Konstantin Kostyuchenko, who is making the 10m tall Memory Gate sculpture, was present at the ceremony in Bolshoi Trostenets. By May 9th, the work will have been installed in Trostenets, near the village of Maly Trostenets, where so many died. An avenue is being laid, leading to the sculpture, with two transportation wagons placed nearby: as used to take prisoners to concentration camps.

Since January, two enterprises in Minsk and Dzerzhinsk have been casting details for Memory Gate in bronze. All work should be finished by the end of April.

By Victor Andreev
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