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Khatyn Memorial

Minsk, Belarus

Khatyn memorial is a tribute to almost three million Belarusians who died during the Great Patriotic War (World War 2)

Until 1943, Khatyn was a usual Belarusian village to the north east of Minsk. But on March 22, 1943, after a skirmish nearby in which a German officer was killed, the occupying German forces encircled the village.

All the inhabitants were rounded up and taken to a barn, which was then set on fire. Some 149 people, including 75 children, died. Only one adult, 56-year-old Joseph Kaminsky, survived the attack. He found his injured son but was unable to save him.

At the centre of the complex stands an astonishing 6m bronze statue called “The Unconquered Man” – a tribute to Joseph Kaminsky and his son

After the war, a memorial to all those who died across Belarus was built on the site of the former village. A handful of soil from each of the 185 burned and never rebuilt was brought to Khatyn to create a symbolic graveyard. Khatyn became the 186th village, the site of this symbolic graveyard.

The memorial has 26 chimneys with bells – one for each of the houses in the village – which ring out every hour. Each chimney has a plaque remembering the family members who died.

The symbolicemetery of villages behind the houses-monuments has the soil brought from 185 burnt villages that never revived after the war.

he Wall of Sorrow near the cemetery represents the memorial slabs with the names of 66 largest death camps and places of massive loss of life.

The Square of Memory features three birch trees symbolizing life and Eternal Flame instead of a fourth tree commemorating the Belarusians killed during the war. Nearby is the Tree of Lifewith the list of 433 villages that were burned by the Nazis and were restored after the war.

As a haunting reminder of the horrors of war, it has become one of the most important places in Belarus.

Khatyn, one of the most important tourist attractions in Belarus, is in a rural area near Minsk. If you are planning a visit it is best to take a day-trip from Minsk.

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