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18 February 2020

War memorial in Belarusian Ola to perpetuate memory of burned villages

The memory of all villages of Gomel Oblast, which the Nazis destroyed during the Great Patriotic War, will be perpetuated in the memorial complex in the village of Ola in Svetlogorsk District. A regional cleanup day to raise funds for the memorial will be held on 22 February, Denis Ezersky, the head of the general directorate of ideology, culture and youth affairs at the Gomel Oblast Executive Committee, told reporters, BelTA has learned.

The creative team of the Gomelgrazhdanproekt Institute designed the memorial. The project features three major blocks: an entry group, a walking route and a memorial zone. “At the entrance there will be the Gomel Oblast map marking all villages burned during the war in the region. Archival workers and historians are now specifying the information,” Denis Ezersky noted.

The walking route, more than 290 meters long, will go through what was once a village street. The places of former houses will have symbolic carcasses, gates, stairs leading to the house, obelisks with people shadow figures. Everything will be made of concrete.

The mass grave in the memorial square will be reconstructed. Nearby there will be a tower with as many bells as the number of villages, residents of which were herded together and killed in Ola in January of 1944.

The idea to create the memorial complex in Ola was proposed by a student from the Gomel university during a meeting of the Belarus president with students and teachers of the medical universities in December of 2019. Aleksandr Lukashenko supported the idea.

“We are building the memorial together, by joint efforts. It will be built using the money earned during the cleanup day, contributed by sponsors, benefactors or by just by caring people,” Denis Ezersky noted. “The Belarusian BRSM Youth Union supported the project and will send students’ teams to help with the construction. Each person can contribute to the construction of the memorial,” he added.

The village of Ola was invaded at the end of July in 1941. By January 1944, the Germans drove here inhabitants of several villages of Svetlogorsk District and Zhlobin Districts. On the morning of 14 January 1944, a German punitive detachment and a military unit, which numbered about 1,000 soldiers, surrounded the village. People were herded into houses and then set on fire. Those who tried to escape were shot with machine guns and assault rifles, thrown into the fire alive. On that day, 1,758 people, including 950 children, were killed. Ola has never revived after the war.

Belarus news (BelTA)

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