A turnout from the Murmansk highway. No sign. Up a small hill. For a while, about one kilometer, it is an ordinary forest road except for the gravel.
At the end of this road there is a gravel parking lot where you can leave the car. The rest is an ordinary road continuing up the hill.
Once the road reached the top of the hill the edge of the cemetery opens up.
The further one goes, the more of shame, bitterness, perplexity.
Not a soul in sight. Total silence. Traces of old graves.
Rare crosses scattered among this space have no signs, no names.
Next to the first plot is the next, just as large.
It has the only tablet by the cross.
“To the memory of German women and men interned from Silesia”
All other crosses are nameless. The story
We hear a lot of how Russians were forced to move to Germany to work as slaves. But somehow there are no stories of Germans driven away to work in Russia. But that was the case. You can look at several documents here (P. Polyan, Against their will: The Story and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR).According to Kandalaksha local history experts (see full text on the city’s information portal kandalaksha.org) on April 30 1945 a train with interned Germans arrived in Kandalaksha. These were civilians from Silesia and East Brandenburg, a total of over 2.5 thousand, including 480 women. About 100 were dead on arrival or dies shortly thereafter. Those that lived on built Niva hydroelectric stations and the Aluminum smelter.
The nameless German cemetery is not far from the Aluminum smelter. Even the plant’s noise can be heard there. The plot with the large black cross is where those who dies en route are buried. The second part opened up somewhat later, when people started dying while at work. They would be buried 10-20 persons in one grave.According to the archive documents this is not a nameless cemetery. Its name is Ministry if Internal Affairs cemetery No. 513.
«The cemetery of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Camp No. 513 is located in Kandalaksha, settlement Niva-3. It consists of two plots…15-20 meters from each other. On Plot No. 1 there are bodies of 540 dead interns. In plot No. 2 there are 311 interns who died in camp No. 513.
In addition, in this plot (cemetery No. 2) there are 124 interns who died in camp division 4B, 13 interns who dies in ORB (??) No. 1106
and 12 interns have been buried where these two plots meet.
This, on plot No. 2 there is a total of 460 persons.»
Thus one thousand. “Interned” sounds nice but shadows the meaning. Slave workers is what they were.
The cemetery got its today’s appearance recently, in the late 90s. It was done by Germans, relatives of those whose bodies remained in this land. We are aware of two names only. One is PaulKoos, whose father, VictorKoos, workedin the construction ofNiva Hydroelectric Station 3 and died in August 1945. Another one is MargotZiegner, whose father and uncle areburried here.Little or nothing is knownin the city ofKandalaksha about this cemetery. When Germans were putting it in order in late 90s all went very quiet. Even local historians didn’t get to know about the activity right away.We’ve been able to find only one TV program from 2011. Take a look at it – it only lasts 2.5 minutes. That’s about all known about the story.
Back to getting there
St. Petersburg to Murmansk highway, the interchange close to exit from Kandalaksha.
Yes, that’s the one. If leaving Kandalaksha, go towards Murmansk. After the interchange, in about 500m, you’ll see the gravel turnout, unsigned. If going from Murmansk, the gravel turnout will be to your left.