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Old 06-16-2014, 07:58 AM   #16
milkman67204 OP
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Location: Moscow, RUssia
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April 19

The next morning we decided to jump on the motorcycle and enjoy the good weather! First stop Staritsa.

Its an old town mainly known for its monastary that is 900 years old!


Another couple of churches


That is Okcana off to the left talking to someone that was interested in the bike.


Staritsa was occupied for about 3 months in 1941/1942. Again alot of what was there was destoryed as the Nazis left. There was some serious fighting that took place between this city and the next one Rzhev.

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Old 06-16-2014, 08:40 AM   #17
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April 19

Our destination and point of turn around for the day was the town of Rzhev. There were major battles here. It is a little known place but the amount of destruction rivals the likes of Stalingrad. There is a heated debate on the amount of lives lost in the battles around this town but an estimate of 350,000 Germans and around 1,000,000 Soviet soldiers seems to be thrown around a lot. Before the war the town had more than 56,000 citizens, upon liberation 150 were left.......
These were on the entrance to the town

Thats Okcana again messing around in the truck


Thats my ugly mug standing on the rocket launcher


Me again looking sexy as ever!
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:56 AM   #18
milkman67204 OP
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April 19

Okcanas Neighbor, named Babafaya, was 12 years old in 1941 when the Germans showed up. She lived exactly in the the middle between the towns of Rzhev and Staritsa. She said the Germans treated the children like her well. In the winter time they let the children come inside and warm up near the stove and gave them a bit of food. She was actually more mad at the Soviet Soldiers. I guess as they retreated they burned most of the villages to the ground and told the villagers to go live in the many caves around.

She told us the worst part was when the spring of 1942 came and the snow melted she could walk the 20 km from her home to Rzhev and never step foot on the ground just stepping on old the dead soldiers laying everywhere. Many of them weren't identifiable, German or Soviet, some they could tell only by what scrap of clothes was left on the mangled body.

This is the monument proclaiming Rzhev a town of Military Glory.


One of the smaller monuments to the war


This gun was used during the war to fire onto the Nazis occupying the town


Grave of the unknown soldiers.


The amount of lives and carnage that happened here are just unimaginable for me. after the war what happened here wasnt really talked about the battles that happened here were almost treated as if they never occurred, at least the scale was never really released. The Battles of Rzhev, the Rzhev Meat Grinder as it was called, were on the scale of Stalingrad but because it was not a decisive victory for the Soviet Union it was mostly forgotten about, even though its less than 150 miles from Moscow. Many of my friends here when asked about Stalingrad can go on and on but when asked about this place know nothing. Most of the information I have given you so far wasnt released until after the fall of the Soviet Union. I hope someday this place gets a little more recognition after all that went on here.
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Old 06-16-2014, 04:11 PM   #19
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Very entertaining report and pictures.
Thanks for pointing out those forgotten or neglected, stories. They deserve to be acknowledged and remembered.

Good show.
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Old 06-16-2014, 11:49 PM   #20
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April 19

The last place we visited in Rzhev was the cemeteries. There was one for the Soviets and one for the Germans. The Soviet Cemetery was disapointing. I have no idea how many people are buried there or really any onfo at all other than it is still being added to as soldiers are uncovered through out the country side.



There was also a monument to the Kazakhstan soldiers who fought and died here.


The German cemetery was much better done. I am not sure as to the current number of people there but it will hold 40,000 when its full. They are relocating many smaller graves to this location and again as soldiers are dug up they are brought here for burial.




These stones had the names of the known soldiers buried here. the names are covering the entire front and back of each stone.



After this we tried, unsuccessfully, to find a musuem that was just on the outskirts of town. Then we decided to start back to Tver about 130km or so on paved road.
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:20 AM   #21
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April 20

I usually wake up early Sunday morning, when I go to Tver, and start to drive back to Moscow. Its between 100 and 150 miles depending on the route I take but leaving early usually lets me beat traffic trying to get back into Moscow. This day I went the long way over towards Volokolomnsk then down to Moscow.

Here is a grave in the town of Lotoshino.


Next was a huge monument to 28 men who were able to take out 17 German tanks before meeting their demise. These statues are HUGE! I wish I could get a better idea of their size for you.



Acros the street from the statues is a part of an old trench that they are trying to preserve. Looks like it has been neglected for a while though.
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:22 AM   #22
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May 9

Victory Day!!!!!

This is a day that intrests me greatly me. Mainly because it makes me realize how relevant events are to time. September 11th comes around and I see all this stuff on Facebook about how "we will never forget". May 9 roles around or December 7 a day that will live in infamy and I see virtually nothing. I guess in 60 years September 11 will be just another day for most people who weren't alive when it happened.

Sorry for my rant now for a couple pictures. I spent the day in Tver a town of about 500,000. They had period machines out for kids to climb on then a memorial service. There were still a few WWII veterans around which was nice.






I ended the day with Okcana and her 85 year old neighbor, Babafaya retelling her time during the war. She was 11 or 12 when her village was captured and 15 when the war ended. Her memory of Victory day 1945 was "We were working in the field when a man on a horse road up acting a bit crazy and screaming VICTORY VICTORY!!!! We all stopped looked at him and said ohh go away your drunk we dont want to hear your crap. He said I'm not drunk I promise just smell me. THATS WHEN I KNEW THE WAS WAR OVER." That night there was a big dance with all the neighboring villages and everybody showed up in rags and sacks because thats all they had. My girlfriend has a picture of all of us from that evening I hope to get and will post when I do.
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:59 AM   #23
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May 18

Decided to take a scenic ride back to Moscow today. Headed over to Staritsa and then south from there.

I ran into this church on the way. It was falling down and in general disrepair. There really is no way to tell what happened to it. There was a huge part of the war here but who knows exactly. Churches like this arent rare to find but most that I have come across are locked up so you cant get inside.





The next church I came to was this one

This was the one I was looking for. It was a building that was fought over in the war. On the back side is a river and steep embankment. You can see in the center of the picture some damage that was just patched enough to keep the elements from getting in.




Here is kind of an overview of the church. in the field I am standing in, for the photo, it appeared someone with a metal detector had been there recently. There were alot of likke holes all over the place and some random pieces of rusty metal around that was recently dug up
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Old 06-17-2014, 02:00 AM   #24
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Wonderful narrative and introduction to the place and its past, which we rarely get to hear or see. Thanks for sharing and I am tuned in
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Old 06-17-2014, 02:03 AM   #25
milkman67204 OP
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June 6

So I took off out of work on a Friday headed to Volgograd I was trying to get about 250 miles or so in before finding a place to camp for the night. About 100 miles into the ride I felt something hit my arm then 3 seconds later a horrible pain. Pulled over to see a bee stinger hanging out of my arm! ohhh buddy that hurt!
So this is the first picture from my trip..... The aftermath of the bee sting


Anyways kept going after a short break until finally seeing a lake off in the distance turned off the road down a double track beside a field and ended up at a nice spot.
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Old 06-17-2014, 03:59 AM   #26
cvcaelen
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nice,
very nice

quick question: if, like me, you don't speak any Russian at all,
can you express yourself in English (or German?)
Or is it Russian only?
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Old 06-17-2014, 04:13 AM   #27
milkman67204 OP
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Quote:
I was there from Aug-Oct 2011. Would have been cool to meet
We would have overlapped then. I was running around here at that time. I am sure we at least saw each other!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cvcaelen View Post
nice,
very nice

quick question: if, like me, you don't speak any Russian at all,
can you express yourself in English (or German?)
Or is it Russian only?
Russian is deffinatly a plus but its not entirely necessary. In the cities you can find English speakers fairly easily. In general look for anyone about 25 or younger and many of them at least have a grasp of English. I think Russia is the land of misconceptions. I have never meet people that were so nice willing to help and giving anywhere before. When I first came people would want to talk but didnt do English, and i no Russian, they would call someone to come over or open a Goolge Translate or just hand signals.

I dumped my motorcycle once about 3 years ago, in Latvia, seperated my shoulder. I was able to make it to the border driving mostly one handed get into Russia and called Okcana. She had some mutual friends, whom I had never meet, that drove 400km one way to come pick me up take me back to Tver and one of them rode my bike there for me. Hell they even brought a doctor along with them when they came to get me! Once in Tver they helped me with some maintenance and storage issues while I healed up.

Ask most anyone who has ben here, particularly outside of Moscow or Petersburg, and I figure most will say it was one of the best trips of their life.
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Old 06-17-2014, 04:44 AM   #28
cvcaelen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkman67204 View Post
We would have overlapped then. I was running around here at that time. I am sure we at least saw each other!



Russian is deffinatly a plus but its not entirely necessary. In the cities you can find English speakers fairly easily. In general look for anyone about 25 or younger and many of them at least have a grasp of English. I think Russia is the land of misconceptions. I have never meet people that were so nice willing to help and giving anywhere before. When I first came people would want to talk but didnt do English, and i no Russian, they would call someone to come over or open a Goolge Translate or just hand signals.

I dumped my motorcycle once about 3 years ago, in Latvia, seperated my shoulder. I was able to make it to the border driving mostly one handed get into Russia and called Okcana. She had some mutual friends, whom I had never meet, that drove 400km one way to come pick me up take me back to Tver and one of them rode my bike there for me. Hell they even brought a doctor along with them when they came to get me! Once in Tver they helped me with some maintenance and storage issues while I healed up.

Ask most anyone who has ben here, particularly outside of Moscow or Petersburg, and I figure most will say it was one of the best trips of their life.
Thanks :)
that's what I wanted to hear:
The Russian border is 2000 something Km away from where I live,
so it's a possible destination
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Old 06-17-2014, 05:12 AM   #29
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June 7

Woke up about 6:30 Saturday and was on the road by 7:00. Had about 400 miles to go in a nice 95 degree heat.

Ran across this on the side of the road at some point.

It was a long day.... The road went from ok to bad back to ok so my speed was always fluctuating. Not that I go to fast anyways for the most I keep my speed around 80 to 90 km occasionally 100kmh , 50 to 55 mph occasionally 60mph. In general I try to keep the speed low so I can see things whether its to react to something in the road or if I see something on the side of the road I want to stop and check out.

Just outside of Volgograd I wanted to stop at a burial site.



This was first established by the Germans during the war. Around 1995 I think it was turned into a massive cemetary relocating graves scattered around to a more centralized location. On one side of the street was a German burial site on the other a Soviet.

This was the soviet side. Very nicely done everything clean and well kept.


This was the German side. It was clean and well kept but not nearly as elaborate as the Soviet side. I dont know why this is, I assume this is what they were allowed to do by the Russians nothing to elaborate. There are currently about 48,000 German soldiers buried here.



After that I continued on into Volgograd. It was about 6:00pm and I wanted to find a hotel to wash and sleep. As soon as I stopped though I was swarmed by these damned little bugs!!!! I dont know what they were but there were everywhere and very very thick. If you werent moving they would land on you glasses in your hair ohh it was annoying.

I couldnt find a place to stay in the center of town that was in my price range so I ended up about 15 km from the center in a little place. It wasnt to bad at least a bed and a shower anyhow.


Volgograd!
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:48 AM   #30
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Very interesting report! Thanks for posting! Although we just had the D-Day commemoration, which seemed to get a lot of press, I think that because there were no WW2 battles in the continental US it makes the war seem distant. It all happened "in Europe" or "in the Pacific" -- far away from home. With the passage of years the war becomes distant in both space and time. Add to that many Americans' lack of knowledge about the history of their own country (let alone the world) as typified in those "Jay walking" pieces on the Tonight Show. And maybe American optimism for a "better tomorrow" contributes to the lack of interest in venerating the past. From Little Orphan Annie in the musical singing "the sun will come out tomorrow" to Scarlet O'Hara's closing line from "Gone With the Wind", "tomorrow is another day," American optimism seems linked to leaving the past behind. Of course, it is still true that those who do not learn from the past tend to repeat it's mistakes in the future!
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