When I was 5, in the summertime my family and I lived in a country house near St Petersburg. And one day my father, while doing some construction work, found an old bomb. And yes, it was fully operational.
Why was it there? Because all that land near St. Petersburg (formerly named Leningrad) was one battlefield during the Great Patriotic War (the part of the Second World War in which the Soviet Union took part). During the war, Leningrad was under siege for a whole 900 days. And to this day, at least once a month, the remains of soldiers or explosives are found in the forests and swamps.
My father was once an army officer and he knew how to handle this kind of problem. He called the authorities and after some time special forces came to clear the mine. Here, this story ended. But even after more than 70 years we feel the influence of the war. It still leads to tragedies.
The story about this one bomb is only about some material side of war. But what about the psychological side? How has this war affected society?
For example, in my family, one of my grandfathers went missing in action during the war and till now we don’t know where he was buried. My other grandfather came home after 4 years of fighting all over the continent from Baltic States to Japan, he was only 22 years old at the time, younger than me when I graduated from university.
This war ended 76 years ago. But till now it is a great tragedy. And till now the war affects us. Till now, after four generations.
Written by Petr Bozhichko from Russia, Roots Peace Work Institute Alumni
Foto credits: by Michael Neubert
This article is part of the World by Word campaign. This project originated at YMCA Netherlands and is a multinational cooperation of YMCA Europe Roots for Peace project, and the Dutch former Soviet Cemetery Leusden. World by Word is a prelude to an Erasmus+ funded Youth Exchange “Then, now and later: towards a composite memory”, taking place in the Netherlands in 2022.