Home Top Stories Russia And France Bury Their Soldiers 200 Years After Napoleon's Defeat

Russia And France Bury Their Soldiers 200 Years After Napoleon’s Defeat

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The remains of Russian and French soldiers who died during Napoleon’s withdrawal from Moscow in 1812 will be buried this Saturday near the Viazma battlefield, in an unusual moment of unity between the two countries. In eight coffins, 126 remains discovered in a mass grave between Smolensk and Moscow are to be buried with honors, in the presence of the descendants of great Russian and French military leaders of the time. These 120 soldiers, three probable women who followed their husbands in military campaigns and three adolescents – possibly drummers – died during or on the occasion of the Battle of Viazma on November 3, 1812, two weeks after the beginning of the withdrawal that culminated shortly after with multiple losses during the battle of the Berézina to cross the river. Saturday’s ceremony represents a moment of unity as Russia disagrees with the West on multiple issues. Russians or French will be buried together with honors to the sound of cannon salutes and under the gaze of a hundred extras dressed in period uniforms.

“Death puts everyone on an equal footing: everyone is in the same grave,” says Yulia Khitrovo, 74, the great-great-granddaughter of the tsar’s chief general, Mikhail Kutuzov. “I am very excited to be present at this ceremony, a symbol of the mutual respect of the parties,” declares Prince Joachim Murat, great-great-grandson of Napoleon’s famous Marshal, who will attend the funeral. Pierre Malinowski, president of the Foundation for the development of Franco-Russian historical initiatives, promoter of the event, appreciates the presence of these “direct descendants of the main actors in the conflict” who together commemorate these soldiers.

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The remains were unearthed in 2019 by a team of Russian and French archaeologists, southwest of Viazma, a city of 52,000 inhabitants. About ten years earlier, a bulldozer found them during construction work. History buffs believed it to be one of the many mass graves from World War II, but an expert report from the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded that they were victims of Napoleon’s campaign, many between 30 and 39 years old. explained the anthropologist Tatiana Chvedchikova. Russia’s campaign has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The remains were unearthed in 2019 by a team of Russian and French archaeologists, southwest of Viazma, a city of 52,000 inhabitants. About ten years earlier, a bulldozer found them during construction work. History buffs believed it to be one of the many mass graves from World War II, but an expert report from the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded that they were victims of Napoleon’s campaign, many between 30 and 39 years old. explained the anthropologist Tatiana Chvedchikova.

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