Did your ancestor serve during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45? Learn more about their Soviet military service using this free resource!
Last week in Part I of our two part series, we introduced Pamyat Naroda (Память народа), a website hosted by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (Министерство обороны Российской Федерации) to honor the participants of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, commonly referred to as the Eastern Front of World War II in English-speaking countries. The Red Army mobilized millions, including 23% non-Slavic minority soldiers and almost eight hundred thousand women, between 1941 and 1945.
Using the Online Help Tools
Pamyat Naroda has a dual-language option of Russian and English. A comprehensive overview for each thematic portion can be accessed on the Russian-language page, How to Use “Memory of the People” (Работа с сайтом ИСК «Память народа»). The English version of the How to Search page, you will only find very brief overviews of each section: Heroes of the War, Combat Operations, Military Graves, War Units, Documents.
Another helpful feature found on the main page is the animated video explaining the summary for the soldier including the ability to switch between the timeline of documents presented. The descriptions are automatically translated from Russian when using the Google Chrome browser, but not the annotated images.
As discussed, the historical narrative presented on the website can be translated using Chrome as your browser or by using copy & paste of the text into Google Translate. Name or unit searches require input using Russian names or terms. To complete searches within the database, optimally you should have the surname, first name and patronymic of the person of interest, although a search using no patronymic will still return all entries of all persons with those first and last names. (Read more about patronymics here.)
Once you enter the information, click Find (Найти). It is important to remember sometimes ‘less is more’ by not restricting the search with too much detail. We have annotated the search screen below with the English equivalents to assist you with your searches.
Here is a quick chart of the key vocabulary you’ll find on the search screen:
Examples of Database Results
After translating the name for Solomon Michailovich Feinstein to Russian and rearranging the names in Surname-First Name-Patronymic order — Файнштейн Соломон Михайлович, the search resulted in several entries; the best entry had an outline of awards earned between 1943-46.
Similarly, a search for Nataliya Pavlovna Fiksina or Фиксина Наталия Павловна resulted in several entries including her receipt of the Medal “For the defense of the Soviet Arctic” and the Medal for Military Merit.
Tips for Searching
- Names and Places: The database uses Russian spellings for names as well as geographic locations throughout the world. Be open to a variety of endings you may find in the search results as these may change due to grammatical case endings of the Russian language (examples: -a, -i, -o, -y).
- Use Google Chrome as your browser. This browser offers the best tools for translating the webpages seamlessly while you’re conducting your searches.
If you’re interested in searching the Memory of the People collections but are unable to work in the Russian language, we are ready to help! The team at Legacy Tree Genealogists would be honored to assist you with any step along the way in your journey to discover your family member’s Soviet military service, including onsite research if needed. Our experts have the linguistic and research skills necessary to efficiently find your family. Contact us today for a free quote.
1. Euridice Charon Cardona and Roger D. Markwick, “Our Brigade Will Not Be Sent to the Front”: Soviet Women under Arms in the Great Fatherland War, 1941-45,” The Russian Review, Vol. 68, No. 2 (April 2009), p. 240-62, viewed digitally, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20620992, accessed July 2020.