Mass grave of French soldiers of the war of 1812 in the village of Studenka

Sculpture, monuments, memorials

Living witnesses of the First World War no longer exist, but courage of Russian soldiers will never be erased in people's memory. They stood for their country, overcoming fear and risking his life.  

The beginning of the fighting was launched in this bloody war on 24 June 1812. On this day Napoleon Bonaparte – the largest politician in the history – along with its 600 000th army began its planned campaign against the Russian Empire. The first hostilities began with the invasion on the Neman River.

In September there was one of the largest military battles – the battle of Borodino about which the famous Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov wrote. Unfortunately, the victory in that battle managed to defeat the French army, but the loss of soldiers from both opponents was enormous. Napoleon captured Moscow within a week, the French soldiers felt like "kings": feasted every evening, ruined Russian homes and otherwise celebrated the conquest of Moscow. However, as it turned out, the victory was temporary.

Moscow was burning, hundreds of homes submerged in the ashes. Napoleon decided together with his several thousand strong army to flee the burning of Moscow. The road would not be easy: the only way to France was ravaged old Smolensk road. The real winter cold came in Russia at that time, although it was still mid-October. Napoleon's army was not ready for that: the soldiers were pinched with the terrible cold, to move harder and harder.

And there is one of the major war course turns at that moment: the battle at the Berezina River near Studenka village. The French army suffered a crushing defeat. A large part of the once mighty army was dying; opponents had no choice but to flee from the battlefield. Since then, over the last two centuries, Berezina battle is considered to be one of the saddest and darkest chapters in the whole course of the Napoleonic wars.

Since then, the village of Studenka is considered to be the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte soldiers. Now this memorial is one of the most significant on the territory of Belarus.

By the way, a mass grave was build not long ago – in 2005. One of the search battalions of the Armed forces found the remains of 224 French soldiers near the village of Force. The Ambassador of France to Belarus Mrs. Mireille Musso insisted that the remains were buried in the village of Studenka. This event occurred in 2007. The identities of all soldiers, except one, were established. The only unknown Frenchman buried in Brilevskoye field in 2008. The remains of the Bonaparte army soldiers were accidentally discovered in a few years later in Logoisk district; they are also buried in the village of Studenka a few years ago.

An excursion to memorial complex in Studenka is the real return in those days, the opportunity to witness the heroic past of small but famous Belarusian towns. Even after so many years, the French are still associating Berezina with disaster and tragedy.

When entering the village, you will see the monument to the soldiers – a sculpture in the form of a warrior without a uniform. The entire complex consists of three graves located in the cemetery. Here you can see the granite cross and the name plate. It feels scary and awful here. Just imagine how many people died in that terrible war... However, the Russians, the Belarusians and the French annually visit the grave, arrange the laying of wreaths and honor the minute of silence for fallen soldiers.  

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