Volnoe Delo Foundation to open memorial to Soviet soldiers in Austria
12 February 2020
Volnoe Delo Foundation will create a war memorial in the Austrian town of Laa an der Thaya to commemorate Soviet soldiers who died fighting fascism in Austria. The foundation is inviting families of the deceased to join the ground-breaking ceremony on 22 June 2020.The Soviet military cemetery in Laa an der Thaya was established in autumn 1945 for those who died fighting against the Nazi occupation of Austria. The burial ground is a resting place for soldiers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia. With support from the Volnoe Delo Foundation, researchers are now completing work on a record of the fallen soldiers, and have announced that they are looking for families of the deceased in hopes of obtaining more information about the lives and deaths of those who fell near the town of Laa an der Thaya.
The memorial will pay tribute to more than 800 Soviet soldiers. The Volnoe Delo Foundation will also establish a website covering the history of Vienna Offensive, and will publish burial records, photos and biographies of the fallen Soviet soldiers. The ground-breaking ceremony will be held in Laa an der Thaya on 22 June 2020.
The Volnoe Delo foundation will provide assistance to anyone wishing to visit the graves of their family members and attend the ceremony. Please contact the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or +7 495 653 81 43.
Records of Soviet soldiers who fell in the area of Laa an der Thaya can be found here:
In 2018, financial support from Oleg Deripaska, the founder of the Volnoe Delo Foundation, helped build the Church of Archangel Michael near the Russian cemetery in Laa an der Thaya. This is a smaller replica of the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl river in the Vladimir Region. The building process relied on the old technique of fine stone carving, with construction materials sent to Austria from Russia. The church was consecrated in September 2018 and has been holding regular services since January 2019. One of the soldiers buried at the Laa an der Thaya cemetery is Timofey Deripasko, Oleg Deripaska’s grandfather, a guards junior lieutenant from Ukraine. He fell in a battle near Laa in April 1945 at the age of 26.
In April 1945, the Soviet Red Army was engaged in extremely heavy fighting against Nazi troops in Austria. Battles for villages, towns, and railway stations near Laa an der Thaya left thousands of Soviet soldiers and officers dead, with many of them buried at the cemetery that opened that autumn. The first attempts to find the names of the deceased were made back in 2011. However, it was only in 2019, after the Central Archives of the Russian Ministry of Defence declassified a number of its documents, that full and reliable burial records were put together. The research is led by military historian Alina Akoeff.