Julian Tanase Photography

My Minox journey continues…

Remember the fallen

Remember the fallen

In June 1941, the Romanian Royal army crossed the river Prut, in order to free the historical province of Bessarabia (current Republic of Moldova). This was the beginning of the Operation Munchen, Romanian codename of a joint German-Romanian offensive during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, with the primary objective of recapturing Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and the Hertsa region, ceded by Romania to the Soviet Union a year before.

The Red Army put up a fierce resistance, and it took 22 days of brutal fighting to be eventually thrown over the Dniester river. But the losses the Romanian army suffered in the process of freeing the province were high, higher than expected initially. Weather, lack of military experience, difficult terrain, obsolescence in tactics and equipment, plus some bad luck, I guess, all of these formed a deadly combination. On 7th of July 1941, due to a recon error, the 63rd Artillery Regiment was heavily hit by the Soviets, in a confined area, roughly between the villages of Varzaresti and Sendreni. All the equipment of the 63rd Artillery Regiment and two batteries of the 55th Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment were lost. The situation got better with the arrival of other Romanian and German units, the Soviets being repulsed and retreated into disarray later that week.

Those fallen in this battle were buried in an ad-hoc field cemetery, at some 500 meters from the Monastery of Varzaresti. It was built by the Romanian army together with the locals of Varzaresti and Sendreni. It stood undisturbed until after the war ended, when the Soviets occupied Bessarabia again. They destroyed the cemetery, and any further care of what remained (also the religious services for the fallen) was strictly forbidden, under pain of jail or deportation.

Time has a way of making things right in the end, I guess; after 1991, when the Republic of Moldova gained its independence, the authorities (together with the Romanian government and various associations of veterans) rebuilt the place, making it a proper burial ground for commemorating the fallen heroes. Every year, both Romanians and Moldovans authorities and people too gather here, to pay their respects.

I visited it recently, alone, on a very bright (and hot) morning; the place was deserted and gave me a sense of peace which I guess it what such place does to you. Clean, well preserved and well maintained, which is proof that the Moldovan nation is not forgetting the heroes who died on these hills here to free them of the Soviets.

Thank you, Moldova, for keeping a lit candle for our forefathers !

Photographs taken with a Nikon FM3A loaded with Rollei Retro 80s, scanned negative. Some military details were quoted from this website here, a really good source for the Romanian military actions in Bessarabia in the WW2.

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