French hill, a local height, has always been the subject of numerous legends in Selishche village, Vileika district. They say there must be a carriage with gold buried somewhere around; supposedly, the Napoleon army left it during their retreat. And older people remember that they used to come across tombstones with inscriptions in French.
The rumor may have been ignored but for gravel mining near the French hill, when bones and skulls were discovered. First they were supposed to belong to World War II soldiers. Yet personnel of 52nd special search battalion have found French military signs of Napoleon times instead of German badges or boot calks that Wehrmacht soldiers used to wear.
— Excavation began about a month ago, — says Igor Sudnikovich, chairman at Vyazynka executive office. — To my knowledge, remains of about 200 soldiers have been found already. Additionally they have found uniforms, remainders of leather bags, footwear, brass buttons with French text, a German coin of 1771 and even two live cannon balls. It is not clear what to do with the findings. Yet it is evident bones should be buried in France.
In the meantime scientists are setting forth specific hypotheses. Aleksei Litvin, chief of military history department at Institute of history under National Academy of science, gives his opinion: ‘The burial is most likely to be made during the Napoleon army retreat after the defeat at Berezina.
Findings of this kind are very interesting for researchers. Every single detail is important here. For example, buttons from military coats are subject to a specific science. You may ask: what for? To restore the real unbiased images of soldiers in motion pictures, books, encyclopedias and in exhibitions. And I think we should arrange a memorial sign over the burial place.
The discovery of Belarusian military aroused interest in French embassy in Minsk, too. Diplomats consider it feasible to negotiate on re-burying the remains of French soldiers.
by Alexander Tumar
The secret of French hill
Mass grave of Napoleon army soldiers found in Vileika district