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Lost childhood. Kirkovo village in Tosnensky district is fighting to restore a memorial to children who died in the Great Patriotic War

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Nine wooden complexes were set up here in the late 1980s and were considered to be monuments of regional importance. But the weather was harsh on the wooden stellas – they rotted, but a small part of them was still saved. Sculptors say – as long as there are photos of them, those can be restored. But who will allocate money for the new memorial? Alexey Zhukov reports.

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One concerned citizen and two sculptors are fighting to restore historic memory in the village of Kirkovo, Tosnensky district. Today the only street here is empty, although only few years ago there was a monument by every house here – remembering those who died in the Great Patriotic War and children who were shot dead when they tried to find food at German kitchens.

Alexey Zhukov, reporter: “This granite plaque is basically the only thing remaining of the enire memorial complex. It was here that fascists brought two boys who broke the curfew and shot them dead – sending a message to the other villagers. Execution was particularly cynical ruthless. Before pulling the trigger, they took pictures of the children and gave these to their parents”

The monument was installed in 1987. Back then it looked like this. Overall, St. Petersburg’s sculptor Viktor Novikov – together with his students – created 9 memorial complexes. Two stellas with cranes, a sculpture of a girl, a memorial plaque on the entrance to the village. All of those were made of pine. Rain and vandals spared none of those. Everything rotted. Those were not only examples of wooden art which disappeared, but officially recognized monuments of regional importance.

Yulia Muradova, sculptor: “This was my graduation work – the monument to these killed boys. And the general blueprint for the village was mine too. A whole generation has already grown up. I teach and I see that younger ones know practically nothing of the Great Patriotic War. It’s important to preserve this memory”.

Crumbs of what remained were relocated into workshops by the sculptors. Only a statue of soldier has been restored so far. They wanted to make it out of granite, but then realized that a rock would not fit the village’s architecture. So they went for larch tree. Unlike a pine, this wood would last for a century. In the meantime, there’s no money for the other monuments. And there are still people alive in the village, who look at the empty streets with sadness and reminisce about those children and those who never survived the war.

Lyudmila Kukharenko, resident of Kirkovo: “My sister was sent to Germany, brother was taken away. We could not enter other homes and take anything”

This woman hid one of the sculptures in her basement. She couldn’t just watch the memory of her dead friends fade away. She admits that she wants to live to see the monuments return onto their places. So that the tombstone saying “Vanushka Grigoryev, 10 years old, died in the hands of fascists in 1942” was not the only reminder of the lost childhood. 

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