Currents of History 1/2019

Milana Živanović 

The Role of the Red Army Command in Creating Burial Complexes for Soviet Soldiers in Serbia

Abstract: Based on documents from Russian and Serbian archives, postwar press and literature, this article analyses the involvement of the Soviet military command in memorial construction – building monuments, memorials and cemeteries for the Soviet soldiers who fell in Serbia; and its involvement in the postwar funerary rituals from the autumn of 1944 through the end of 1945. It showcases the importance of the Soviet factor in commemorative practice soon after the end of the military operations.

Key Words: military command, Red Army, graveyard complexes, Serbia


From the very moment the military operations in Serbia ended, the people, the new government and, especially, the Soviet military command, began burying and soon afterwards building monuments and memorials dedicated to the fallen Soviet soldiers. The large number of graveyard complexes built in the period from 1944 through the end of 1945 was the result of several factors – Soviet casualties during World War II, a series of actions undertaken by the representatives of the local authorities and their comrades in the army in order to mark their graves and locations where the dead had been buried; the political orientation of the Democratic Republic of Yugoslavia. The role of the Red Army's military command in these actions consisted of cooperating with the Yugoslav authorities; directing and taking the initiative in building the monuments; creating cemeteries and transferring to Yugoslavia the bodies of the soldiers that had died in Hungary. In this case, the crucial factor were political, ideological, and ritual reasons – the wish to highlight the role of the Soviet Army in defeating Nazism and to expand its ideology in that part of Europe. The created complexes were evidence of the Soviet influence in the Eastern European countries, and what was implemented in Serbia was no different from what went on in the other countries in that part of Europe.