Author: Irina Vilkova
The military-historical memorial complex, which is also called the military necropolis of old Bendery, is located on the site of a Russian military cemetery. The history of this final resting place of the glorious soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army is closely connected with the history of the city of Bendery itself and with the history of the entire Russian state in the part starting from 1806. Bendery and Tiraspol are the location of the 55th Podolsky Infantry and 56th Zhytomyr Infantry Regiments - large army units with a glorious history and remarkable military traditions. A stationary military hospital of the first class functioned in Bendery. In addition to it, during significant military campaigns of the 19th century, in addition to a stationary hospital, heavy consolidated military hospitals and infirmaries were deployed in the city. Seriously wounded soldiers and officers came here, here they either finished treatment and underwent a rehabilitation course, or ... their last home in this life is a small piece of land near the walls of the Bendery fortress, which is called differently in different documents: a military cemetery; military dedicated cemetery; Borisov military cemetery.
On the maps of the Swedish king Charles XII, this piece of land near the village of Borisovka (now the modern Borisovka residential district) is shown as a skyscraper surrounded by a swamp, on which a temporary camp is located. The location of the plot of land allocated for the cemetery at that time was very convenient: this is the actual outskirts of the city, there are no human settlements nearby, at the same time, the fortress is nearby. In this area, basically, mobile medical institutions and posts were deployed (judging by the old military maps). Here they buried the dead and dead soldiers and officers of the active army, gendarmes, employees of disabled teams and prisoner companies, retired military men, officials who worked in the military department. Husbands who had died earlier were allowed to bury the ashes of their wives and children. Epidemics were still frequent in the 19th century. Smallpox (despite the fact that vaccination against it had long been known and Empress Catherine II herself, in order to set an example for everyone, made smallpox vaccination for herself), cholera, dysentery were most dangerous for children. At the military cemetery there was a whole sector for the burial of those who died from epidemics. Three slabs of sandstone "Ashes of Babies" have survived to this day.
At the bottom of the cemetery territory, behind the fence, there was a sector of burials that the church could not bless: suicides, unbaptized babies, etc.
On a hill, where Ermakova Street is now laid and the outermost houses of the Solnechny microdistrict stand, there was a number of crypts. Around them and below are the graves of military officers. Along st. Z. Kosmodemyanskaya (then it was Cemetery) also had a number of crypts. There were also family burials (vaults) in other sectors, but not so often.
Sector along the street. Ermakova (Foreign sector). During the occupation of Bender by Romanian troops in 1941-44. this sector was used for burials of the deceased and dead soldiers and officers of the Romanian army. For this reason, the old cemetery is sometimes erroneously called Romanian. The bodies of Soviet prisoners of war were also buried here, many of whom worked in forced labor in the city during the war. The crosses for Romanians and Soviet prisoners of war were the same: narrow, reinforced concrete, with a cast disk around the cross (the so-called "Celtic crosses").
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the territory of the cemetery was well-groomed, trees and shrubs grew here, paths were laid, lighting was installed, and several caretakers worked. The cemetery (its territory at that time was about 8 hectares) was surrounded by a fence, and there were high stone gates at the entrance. There was a chapel in the cemetery. During this period of time, civilians were already allowed to be buried in the cemetery. In the sector adjacent to the current car park, there were a number of family graves; the same names were repeated on crosses and on monuments.
The city grew, the land around the necropolis was quickly filled with residential buildings. The cemetery turned out to be not on the outskirts, but in the very center of three densely populated urban microdistricts, and part of its territory had to be given over to city communications. So from eight hectares there are only two. The chapel was demolished.
The upper sector with the crypts was destroyed. The rest of the cemetery territory was surrounded by a blank fence made of reinforced concrete slabs and left for many years. Apparently, the cemetery was finally prepared for demolition, because the relatives of those buried in the military cemetery were informed by the city authorities about the need to transfer the ashes to the new city cemetery, and some of the modern graves were empty.
Relatives looked after the rest from time to time - who had them. And the oldest, forgotten graves just went deeper...
City historians and local historians, who knew what was behind the concrete fence, repeatedly appealed to the authorities with a request to allocate funds for the restoration and maintenance of the cemetery. Some amount was actually allocated from the city budget, but it was not used for its intended purpose.
The necropolis was overgrown with wild lilacs, died out and was completely forgotten. Until 2006.
In the summer of 2006, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the PMR took over the abandoned Russian cemetery. So there were circumstances and a number of factors, the main of them were, of course, the capabilities of this well-organized power structure, but, first of all, the sincere desire of the top police leadership to preserve for the city and the Republic this unique historical object, a symbol of memory and time connections.
The cemetery was raised, literally, from scratch, and at the same time they tried to observe both the historical value of the necropolis and not violate the requirements of religion, morality and decency. The final resting place has always, in all cultures, been surrounded by special norms and certain taboos, the violation of which sometimes entails serious consequences. Therefore, architects, builders, public utilities had to be especially careful.
At the same time, archival research was carried out in order to establish the names of those buried in this cemetery. The work is very complex, painstaking, requiring great attention, patience and specific skills. Archives of Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, requests to the relevant services in Germany, Romania, Sweden, France - all this was done by the search group. Without the initial help of search experts, even experienced investigators from this group would have found it too difficult.
The obtained historical materials, documents, maps, photographs made it possible to carry out the reconstruction and construction of new facilities at the old Russian military cemetery on a solid scientific basis, and all this solid documentation was the basis for serious historical research, some of which have already been published.
The necropolis was almost completely built in a very short time: almost two years. The complex consists of several parts (sectors and not only), each of them has its own meaning and value: a colonnade with museums of military glory; central cross; Church of the Savior Not Made by Hands; Alley of Generals; sector of the assault on the fortress in 1770; sector of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment; two large military sectors; Foreign sector; historical sector. Several gifts were made to the city for the 600th anniversary of Bendery. Three of them, by the will of history or the decision of city architects, are nearby, located around the same square. A large shopping complex "Solnechny", Triumphal Arch - a copy of the arch that once stood in Chisinau, on the street. Benderskaya, in honor of the arrival of the Russian Emperor Alexander and the Military-Historical Memorial Complex (Bendersky necropolis). All together they make a wonderful impression, especially since urban landscape designers have also tried. The area is very ornate. Not without reason, a tradition quickly appeared in the city: newlyweds come here on the most important and solemn day of their lives. From the carriageway of Ermakova Street, a wide paved alley leads to the cemetery, in the center of which there is a monument to His Serene Highness Prince Potemkin-Tavrichesky. The central colonnade is a museum and an entrance to the territory of the necropolis.
The decision to decorate the central entrance to the cemetery was searched for a long time. In the old cemetery, these were massive stone gates with an upper crossbar and a sign. This is clearly not enough for a war memorial. This is how the reconstruction workers came up with the idea of a colonnade, which will be both an entrance and a museum. An elegant building, decorated with thin columns over seven meters high, the building turned out to be very successful. It has both classical beauty and flight: straight white columns, a Greek-shaped green roof, two curved wings. The building is transparent, soaring, not at all heavy and not sad, rather, on the contrary. In two of its wings there are small museums: on the left is the museum of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment, on the right is the Museum of Russian Military Glory. Museum exhibits were prepared in advance. These are exact copies of documents brought from the archives, these are samples of Russian military uniforms from different periods of the 19th century (the uniform then changed regularly), exclusive copies of weapons made by the Bendery craftsman Vitaly Gabdrakhmanov, authentic parts of ammunition, standards and banners, and much more.
Behind the colonnade there is a descent to the territory of the necropolis. Wide semicircular platforms lined up with steps and are decorated with openwork black forged railings. By the way, these are the three main colors used in the aesthetic design of the memorial complex. The severity and even some color sparseness of the design give the necropolis an exceptional style and European elegance. From the semicircular steps-terraces, three paths diverge like a wide fan: on the right - to the Foreign Sector, on the left - to the Historical Sector. The central, shortest path leads to the Central Cross and the Church of the Savior Not Made by Hands. She - from the Colonnade to the Cross - Alley of Generals.
There are eleven of them here. Eleven representatives of glorious noble families, eleven generals. Even the humblest of them is famous. Their names are constantly mentioned in military documents, their descendants live to this day, the buildings built by them are still standing, their exploits and accomplishments are an example to follow.
These are mainly the commandants of the Bendery fortress: Kannabikh, Olshevsky, Wedemeyer. Military engineer, builder of the first Odessa port facilities Ferster; the founder of Odessa Luzanovka - General Foma Petrovich Luzanov, the builder of military barracks in Tiraspol P. Dubelt and others.
Considering that over five thousand soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army are buried in the cemetery, the question arises: why only eleven? Or did the generals not go on military campaigns? Went. They participated directly in the assaults and attacks. And they died together with their soldiers, loyal to the Tsar and the Fatherland. But for the nobles, there was a custom that was rarely violated: the body should be taken home and buried as close as possible to the ancestors, or in specially designated noble and officer cemeteries (there were similar cemeteries in the nearest cities - one in Tiraspol and three in Odessa) . There were exceptions to this rule: by will, either the children were buried here, or the wife, or, like Lieutenant General Dubelt, having retired, he wanted to stay here. The reasons are different. And for these reasons, here, at the Bendery military necropolis, these eleven granite slabs now stand - an encyclopedia of the military history of the Russian Empire of the 19th century.
On both sides of the chapel are the two largest burial sectors of the Bendery necropolis - sectors of military burials. Here, the same strict and stingy style of decoration dominates: a carpet of green grass and even rows of identical slabs of polished black granite. On each slab are the names of the soldiers and officers buried here, the names obtained with such difficulty, pulled out of oblivion in the documents of the military archives. One hundred and ten regiments and divisions of the Russian Imperial Army. Twenty-one units of the Bendery garrison. Over five thousand names and surnames. Next to each is the date of death. According to these dates, one can trace almost all the events of the turbulent 19th century from the 1920s onwards.
- 1829. 39th Tomsk Infantry Regiment. 101st Perm Infantry Regiment. 106th Ufa Infantry Regiment. The Russian-Turkish campaign ended with the signing of the Adrianople peace treaty.
- 1848 57th Modlin Infantry Regiment. Revolutionary uprisings in Germany, Austria, Hungary.
- 1854-1855-1856: most dates of death refer to the very middle of the century. Moscow and Smolensk militia, 34th Sevsky infantry general of Count Kamensky regiment. 41st Selenginsky Infantry Regiment. The 55th Podolsk and 56th Zhytomyr infantry regiments, the 58th Prague infantry regiment, the Tobolsk infantry regiment, the Yakutsk infantry regiment - the year 1855 is completely marked on the plates. This is the Crimean campaign. Russo-Turkish War 1853-1856 Defense of Sevastopol. Russia did not survive under the blows of the united armies of allied Europe. But the Russian troops showed such examples of heroism in this war that they will never be forgotten.
- 60s of the XIX century. 60th Zamosc Infantry Regiment. 59th Lublin Infantry Regiment. Asia. Bukhara. Tashkent.
- 70s XIX century. 58th Prague Regiment. Franco-Prussian War. Military operations continue in Central Asia.
- 1877-78 years. Russian-Turkish war. Liberation of Bulgaria. 127th Putivl Infantry Regiment, 1st St. Petersburg Lancers Field Marshal Prince Menshikov Regiment. 138th Bolkhov Infantry Regiment. 125th Kursk Infantry Regiment.
Dates from the end of the 19th century. Dates from the beginning of the 20th century. Russian-Japanese, World War I. But there are already much fewer military graves here, more retired soldiers, gendarmes, military officials, employees of disabled teams and prisoner companies.
Names and dates are read on the plates. Quietly rustle the turning pages of history...
Sector dedicated to those who died during the assault on the Bendery fortress in 1770
It is located to the right of the Alley of Generals, one of the first at the entrance to the territory of the necropolis. This sector is more of a symbol than a real burial. In 1770, when for the first and only time the Bendery fortress was taken in battle, by storm, by the troops of the Second Army of General Panin, dead Russian soldiers were not buried in this cemetery: Bendery was a Turkish city and remained so until 1806, despite the successful assault and taking the fortress. For political reasons, the conquered Bendery fortress was returned to the Ottoman Empire very soon. During the siege and assault, more than two thousand Russian soldiers died. And not all the bodies of the dead had time to bury, as expected. In the second half of the last century, in the course of town-planning works between the fortress and the cemetery - at the point from which the assault of 1770 began, construction equipment raised hundreds of human bones from the ground. Those who fell during the assault remained lying here, covered with earth from explosions. It was for them, for hundreds of nameless soldiers, who laid down their bellies in battle, that the sector of those who died during the assault on the fortress in 1770 was created. They erected a monument with a touching in its subtle beauty icon of the Mother of God. They have slabs. And experts continue to search the archives, trying to find out their names. Icon of the Mother of God with the Child - for the nameless soldiers who fell during the storming of the fortress in 1770.
Sector dedicated to history, as well as to the fallen soldiers and officers of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment
It is located to the left of the central alley. Attention to this regiment is special, since it has been constantly stationed in the city of Bendery for more than 30 years. Its soldiers and officers had a significant impact on both the history of the city and its appearance. Many descendants of the servicemen of this glorious division of the Russian Imperial Army live in Bendery to this day. While working in the archives to collect data on those buried at the memorial, we managed to find the parish registers of the field church of this regiment, which was called the Savior Not Made by Hands. It was in these books that the records of all those who died in the iconic military campaigns of different periods were established. The names of those who died in the Crimean War in Sevastopol, during the Balkan campaign, in the Russian-Japanese war, became known, and the names of those who died in the First World War were also established from the loss records of the regiment and from reports to the main headquarters. The history of the regiment is carved on a large granite monument, and next to it there are slabs on which the names of the dead are carved.
A large sector at the burial site of soldiers and officers of the Romanian occupation army, who were buried in the Russian military cemetery in the period from 1941 to 1944. There are a little more than three hundred real burials here, but only 33 of the original Romanian crosses that were installed over the graves at that time have survived. The rest of the restorations were not amenable to restoration. Of the crosses that the Romanian authorities erected over the graves of Soviet prisoners of war, only one has survived. It was moved to its place in the historical sector. And in the foreign sector, at the site of the original burial of the bodies of Soviet prisoners of war, a monument was erected. There is also a plate of the Swedish military who arrived in Bendery together with King Charles XII in 1709-1713, who died and was buried in this land. Nearby is a plate of 25 soldiers of the French army from the Senegalese division. These soldiers took the side and defended the townspeople during the Bendery uprising of 1919, were shot along with them and buried in the Russian military cemetery. Not far from the Swedish monument, a granite obelisk was erected to the Ukrainian Cossacks, who arrived in Bendery together with Ivan Mazepa and Pylyp Orlyk after the latter fled from Poltava together with King Charles XII in 1709-1713. The formation of the foreign sector is still ongoing, archival research in this work is difficult, since work is required in other countries and with the participation of specialists who know the old dialects of French, Swedish; literary Ukrainian language.
In 2011, the fact of burial in this cemetery of Hungarian prisoners of war in 1944-45 was established. With the help of the Hungarian Military Institute, the texts with the names of the dead in Russian were translated into Hungarian, and these data were verified against the archives of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense. The Hungarian side purchased granite at its own expense, carved on them names, which turned out to be over three hundred, and these plates were placed in the foreign sector of the memorial. In 2013, relatives of those buried here came to this place.
At the top of the Foreign Sector is a small area that has only one slab. It was installed on the grave of a woman, Nina Ivanovna Olar, who was neither a soldier nor an officer, and had nothing to do with the army at all. But she died in the war. In 1992, together with her husband, Nina Ivanovna returned home. The husband walked a little ahead and managed to turn the corner of the house in which they lived. But she did not have time ... A mortar shot cut short the life of this already elderly woman, who raised two daughters, honestly performed her duties to her family and the state and had nothing to do with politics. They could not even bury her body in the city cemetery - such transportation was dangerous. They buried him at the old military cemetery closest to the house, already closed - although everything is overgrown here, at least the land is consecrated. After the design of the grave of N.I. Olar in the style that is the same as the entire necropolis, it was decided to install a monument to all the victims of the events of 1992 from among the civilian population on this site. It turns out that there is no such official monument anywhere else in the territory of Pridnestrovie. We sacredly honor the memory of the warrior-defenders, but we forgot about the innocent victims of someone's political ambitions. The monument is very interesting in form: two polished slabs of black granite, like two heavy wings, around the silhouette of an Orthodox cross cut in the middle. Rest in peace! We remember you.
A large burial sector located in the lower left corner of the complex. The main groups of graves of civilians were also concentrated here. For two years, Interior Ministry officials collected data from their relatives and friends. Surnames, names, dates of birth and death. Unfortunately, not everyone has complete data on relatives beyond the second generation. Not all patronymics are known, and even more so - dates of birth. But the information was collected more or less complete, the tombstones were made among the first. In the process of searching for information on civilian burials, an interesting fact was established, or rather, the secret of a very influential political figure in his time was revealed. The eldest son of the former General Secretary of the Communist Party, Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov, Vladimir Andropov, is also buried here in Bendery. It so happened that the not too obedient eldest son, especially from his first marriage, did not fit into an elite family. Vladimir ran away from home, committed offenses, got acquainted with alcohol early. Dad walked with confident steps to the highest administrative post in the Soviet Union, and such a son was a hindrance to him. So Vladimir ended up in Tiraspol, worked here, got married here. But addiction to alcohol ruined him. At the age of 35, Vladimir Yuryevich Andropov died in the Bendery city hospital from cirrhosis of the liver. By the way, those who knew him during his lifetime say that he had a surprisingly light and pleasant character, people liked to communicate with him, only, internally, he was somehow broken, lost. And they buried him in the "best traditions" of the then all-powerful KGB: in the old cemetery, in an unmarked grave - so that no one would know and remember. So maybe it's not about alcoholism?
In addition to new slabs, the Historical Sector contains tombstones found during the clearing of the cemetery. Unfortunately, there are almost no whole plates. This is because in our region at that time gravestones and monuments were mainly made of sandstone, shell rock. Such material is easy to process, cheap and almost everyone could afford to decorate the grave of deceased loved ones in this way. Only now such monuments are poorly preserved; The shell rock easily absorbs moisture and quickly crumbles, the inscriptions on it, even the deepest ones, are quickly erased from atmospheric precipitation. The grave stele of Lieutenant Colonel Geller (red granite), the powerful Reich slab (black granite), a fragment of the crypt of Stanislav Chmelevsky (white marble), the tombstone of Tanya Persianova (red granite) are more or less well preserved - that is, monuments made of durable, imported and, respectively, an expensive stone. It's a pity. Firstly, tombstones, monuments, tombstones, crosses are also subject to fashion trends and to some extent reflect the spirit of the time in which people lived. Curiously shaped Cossack crosses - the lower crossbar is made in the form of a crescent with the horns up. Such crosses symbolize the victory of Orthodoxy over Islam. But, there is not a single whole such cross. They were also cut from shell rock... The information that could be obtained from the inscriptions on the monuments has been irretrievably lost. These are gaps in knowledge that cannot be filled in any way. But it's good that at least it survived. There is something to see in the historical sector!
It's impossible not to say about the Church of the Savior Not Made by Hands, located at the entrance to the memorial from the side of Z. Kosmodemyanskaya street - the former Cemetery. It was built in honor of the unpreserved church of the same name of the 55th Podolsky Infantry Regiment, which was previously located on the street. Sofievskaya in the city of Bender, now st. Dzerzhinsky. In the old Russian cemetery there used to be a stone chapel, the foundation of which was discovered during the clearing of the cemetery; according to the documents, it was attributed to the Alexander Nevsky Church in the Bendery Fortress. So the new church was built as a chapel, but due to the fact that it gained immense popularity among the population, it was soon transformed into a church. On the walls of the church there are granite slabs with the names of the regiments whose personnel are buried at the memorial, as well as a list of the regiments that took part in the assault on the Bendery fortress in 1770.