“Tanks rumbled across the field” - a folk song- alteration of the times of the Great Patriotic War in numerous interpretations tells about the dead tank heroes. Under the "volleys of tower guns" they were escorted on their last journey. Or they didn’t see them off: there weren’t enough hands, the war was on, they wouldn’t forget about the living. What can we say about iron - the battlefields are thickly watered with blood, covered with the remains of artillery pieces, trucks, aircraft. Fighting vehicles piled up terrible monuments through forests, fields, swamps. But they didn’t become like that…
Tank for sale
In the post-war decade of the middle of the 20th century, there was no time for monuments: wrecked armored vehicles, other equipment, the inhabitants of the territories where the battles took place, were scrapped, replenishing family budgets. Missing soldiers could not be found for decades, abandoned "thirty-fours" are of no interest to anyone except children and scrap miners.
In the 80s of the twentieth century, the turn came to the rusty rarities of the Second World War. "Memory watch", search parties, black diggers - everyone took up the abandonedtanks shot down by planes, in parallel finding the remains of soldiers, restoring names. The equipment and weapons of the Great Patriotic War are of historical interest for some and commercial for others. Money hunters, for example, near Vyazma (or Tver) dug up an absolutely whole German T-III in a ravine. Then they found buyers in the B altic States, dismantled the car for scrap metal. Thanks to the vigilant customs - the rarity remained in Russia.
Collectors of military equipment are ready to buy combat vehicles of the second world war for millions of dollars. A detained T-III in working condition costs 5 million rubles, T-IV ("Tigers"), "Panthers" from the Battle of Kursk on the black market are even more expensive. Diggers are selling the memory of the Soviet heroes of World War II as if it were their property.
Who owns the destroyed tanks
A few years ago, news feeds told that Hollywood actor Brad Pitt bought a Soviet T-54. It stands in Los Angeles, representing part of the history of the great USSR. And the Russians, it turns out, do not need history? Who is the owner of abandoned and forgotten WWII tanks? According to federal law - the Ministry of Defense, which has order N 845 on the safety of found artifacts, individual parts, not to mention equipment that can be started after technical inspection.
According to the law of preserving the memory of the fallen in that terrible war, everything that is found in the battlefields must be handed over to the military commissariats. Probably, further it should be transferred to museums. But no - museum workers cannot find money to buy the historical value from“a passer-by who accidentally dug up a wrecked military vehicle on caterpillar tracks in the forest.”
Black diggers - they know history very well, they carefully study the fate and path of abandoned tanks. The trouble is that the descendants will not see this, they will not recognize it, they will not be inspired: where money rules the ball of history, they do not think about morality.
Find to remember
The history of a great power that defeated the brown plague of fascism, preserved in the metal crumpled by explosions, is also collected by real patriots - search groups of museums, youth organizations. They collect exhibits for posterity, so that the children of children remember "at what cost it was won." Moreover, combat iron, a tank abandoned in the forest, is almost impossible to find, all easy prey has already been collected. Now search engines are raising cars from the bottom of rivers, from swamps, where the efforts of many are needed, and not just one greedy digger.
The archives are carefully studied, the memories of eyewitnesses, now grandchildren, who listened to veteran grandfathers, but did not remember everything, are collected. Information is checked, old people leave, time flies. And yet good luck happens.
The Moscow search club "Arrierguard" raised "WWII exhibits" from reservoirs, donated them to Russian museums, and placed them on pedestals. You can touch this story with your hands, feel it, appreciate the tragedy and the power of a military hurricane that crumbles armor like a piece of chalk. There are a lot of raised and restored equipment in the archive of search engines:
- Heavy KV-1 (Klim Voroshilov)raised from the bottom of the Neva, transferred to the Museum of the Battle for Leningrad.
- T-34-76 "Brave" was taken from the bottom of the lake in the village of Malakhovo, Pskov region.
- T-34 raised from the lake in the village of Zelenkino. Another one of the same was pulled out without a turret.
- OT-34 - a unique WWII medium tank pulled out of a swamp near the village of Batovo and others.
Public non-profit organization liquidated in the summer of 2018
Grave at the bottom
Here are some examples of search engines in the new millennium. Alas, 78 years after the start of the Great Patriotic War, we have not paid tribute to all those who died for the freedom of their Fatherland. Hundreds of abandoned tanks are still waiting for searchers.
Belgorod region. In the south of the main clash in the Battle of Kursk, in the floodplain of the Northern Donets, in 1943 there were Soviet and German divisions - participants in the Fiery Arc. Place near the Rzhavets is called a tank cemetery: in one day on July 12, more than a hundred vehicles were shot down and destroyed.
Local search engines found the silted skeleton of a T-34 at a depth of two meters. The seven-ton car was raised with difficulty: 70 years ago, an explosion thundered from the inside, the ammunition exploded. There were no remains of the crew. A local resident told how, as a seven-year-old boy, he heard that the fighters blew up a damaged car and left the vegetable gardens. This find became an exhibit of the Museum in the legendary Prokhorovka.
Belarus. In Polesie, employees of the WWII Historical Museum at a former river crossing found a Soviet tank in a decentcondition. Found according to archival documents with the help of special devices. But they can’t raise it - there are not enough funds.
The search group of the ICC "Stalin Line" during its existence took out several WWII combat vehicles from the water: a heavy KV, a light BT-7, several T-34s, as well as a couple of German vehicles.
Severomorsk. In the Barents Sea, an M3 Lee, a medium tank that did not reach the front, was raised from the sunken American transport "Ballot" in 1943. The main part of the cargo was saved, this car was not lucky. The Severomorians restored the equipment and transferred it to the museum. Little is known to posterity about the help of the allies during that war. It turns out that they delivered not only stew from America along the northern route.
Volgograd. From the bottom of the Dobraya River near Surovikino, a Soviet light T-60 was raised, which was damaged near Stalingrad.
T-60 Nazis called "locusts", they were fast, maneuverable, transporting infantry during the battle from place to place. But for the "iron cats" - "Panthers" and "Tigers" - they became easy prey. Our people called the car "BM-2" - a mass grave for two.
In total, six such rarities were found - the dream of military museums. You can see it in the Museum-Reserve of the Battle of Stalingrad. A few months earlier, they immediately got the T-34.
Tver region. In the Zavidovsky Reserve, during the "Memory Watch" a German tank was discovered, presumably a commander's one. Only 200 of these were produced during the Second World War. Restorers set the brand, search engines collect the history of technology.
Moscow region. In the wilderness in the summer of 2018, a villager accidentally stumbled upon a combat vehicle from the times of the Great Patriotic War. The village is not indicated so that scrap metal lovers do not realize it. Abandoned German tank, half sunk into the ground, rusting, waiting for historians and those who can get it out of the ground.
Tula region. Two copies of military equipment were found at the bottom of the river in the Novomoskovsk region. At the time of the appearance of the information, neither the affiliation to someone's aircraft, nor the brand was known. But preparations for raising the equipment were already underway.
In 1941, the Kazakh division fought near Tula. In Northern Kazakhstan, 16,000 soldiers are listed as missing. Search engines during the study of the bottom of the Oka discovered a Soviet T-34 lying on the tower, heavily silted.
Kuril Islands. On the distant island of Shikotan, abandoned World War II tanks still rust in defensive positions. The short Japanese war, which ended the history of World War II, snarls with mute reproach from trunks and towers made of earth. As if warning about the terrible consequences of wars.
Return from oblivion
There are a lot of stories about World War II tanks that were abandoned and forgotten 70 years ago on the Internet. But if you know that only one Battle of Kursk, the greatest tank battle, involved more than six thousand combat vehicles and self-propelled guns, all the finds of the XXI century become a drop in the ocean.
Search teams are doing a great job with almost naked enthusiasm, withoutassistance and support of the state, which is the copyright holder of wartime finds. And the Second World War will not end for us until the ashes of the last missing soldier are interred. Until all the iron combatants turn out to be museum witnesses of the Second World War.