On June 23, a volunteer trip to places of military glory in the Republic of Belarus organized by RTU MIREA ended. In a few days, the volunteers managed to visit a number of memorial sites dedicated to the Great Patriotic War.
The trip began with a visit to the Khatyn Memorial Complex eternalizing the memory of the residents of the village with the same name, and of 186 other Belarusian villages burnt down by the Nazis, and the civilians killed by the Nazis during the war. The RTU MIREA volunteers also honored the memory of those perished in the war by laying flowers near the eternal flame.
“I have never been to Belarus. I wanted to get to know better its historical and cultural sights, while the University is providing such an opportunity for our students. When visiting places of military glory, I was particularly impressed and emotionally touched by the Khatyn Memorial Complex. Each stele, each monument reminds us of those terrible events that the villagers had to live through,” – said Yulia Dzhalimova, an RTU MIREA volunteer, sharing her impressions.
Further on, according to the program, a group of students went to the Stalin Defense Line Historical and Cultural Complex. There, on the premises of the restored structures of the Minsk fortified area, built to defend the border against potential attacks from Poland, the volunteers were able to get closer to the facts of history. They visited the underground long-term machine-gun firing points, a command and observation post, and even had a chance to spend some time in dugouts, trenches and anti-tank ditches.
During the entire trip, the volunteers stayed on a farm near Belovezhskaya Pushcha, where, on one of these days, a 19-kilometer bike ride was organized. At the same time, young people could see the beautiful views of the mixed forest, feel the scent of the pine trees thus and watch the diverse fauna of the reserve.
In addition to the excursion program, the volunteers from RTU MIREA for several days helped to improve the territory in the Brest Fortress. After that, they had a guided tour of historical museums, and everyone was able to personally feel the atmosphere of the past war. The military and historical re-enactment “June 22. Brest Fortress” was dedicated to the Day of National Remembrance of the Victims of the Great Patriotic War and the 80th anniversary of the heroic defense of the Brest Fortress.
“The trip was more of a patriotic nature, rather than a volunteer one. I believe that such trips should be mandatory, because our veterans are alive as long as we remember them. Both of my grandfathers went through the war, one fought on the Kursk Bulge, the other struggled on the whole of Belarus territory. His division took part in the liberation of the Brest Fortress, and the memory of this event is immortalized in the Museum of Military Glory. My grandfather really did not like to talk about the war, but yet I learned from some details he mentioned that he struggled for Khatyn, Bobruisk, fought near Minsk and many other cities and towns. For me, Belarus is a place where my heart always sinks with excitement, because you come to understand how your ancestors lived on this land and took part in the liberation of the entire Soviet Union from the enemy,” – commented Diana Shestopalova, head of the trip from the RTU MIREA Stavropol branch.
At the end of the trip on the way to Minsk, the volunteers had an opportunity to visit the defense fortification – the Mir Castle, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. All elements of the castle make up an integral architectural composition that creates a complex of buildings that is similar to none.
“This is my first trip in this format. We had a very rich program, sometimes difficult, sometimes very emotional. Most of all I was touched by the re-enactment scene because it is one thing to read about the events of the war in books, watch films, and quite another to see everything with your own eyes, to let all emotions pass through your heart. The episode that moved me to tears was when a little girl ran across the field during the re-enactment scene and let soldiers know what was happening. At that moment it struck me that the war does not spare anyone, neither children, nor women. It was scary to see how some of civilians were taken prisoners, someone was killed, but the soldiers, in spite of everything, kept the defense of the fortress to the last living man,” – said Sofia Kolotilina, an RTU MIREA volunteer.
The volunteers’ trip was organized in accordance with safety requirements and the account of the current epidemiological situation.