New Defence Ministry site provides information on Czech soldiers killed abroad during world wars

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The fates of Czech soldiers who died abroad during the first and second world wars are being mapped in a newly created War Graves Record. The internet-based project documents more than 1,800 war graves around the world where Czech soldiers are buried, along with information about how and when they died.

Czechs seeking to find out more about where their grandfathers or great-grandfathers fell during the two world wars have a new tool at their disposal: an internet-based War Graves Record created by the Defence Ministry. It documents where thousands of soldiers are buried in over 1,800 war graves worldwide, along with information about how and when they were killed.

Kleve cemetery, Germany, photo: www.army.cz
The Defence Ministry’s Imrich Vetrák is one of the people behind the project. He says war graves from World War II have been better preserved, partly because it is more recent.

“Concerning abroad, graves from World War I have been preserved in Italy, France and Poland. In Russia they’ve hardly been preserved at all – there are only around three there. There are some in Ukraine. As for World War II, there are many war graves in England, where our airmen were based. There are some in France, and some from the Battle of the Dukla Pass, meaning in Poland and Slovakia. Otherwise they are to be found across the Northern Hemisphere, from Japan to Canada.”

Users can search the War Graves Record according to, for instance, a soldier’s name, date of birth or unit, or where and in what conflict they fell.

“Only some of the available information is online. We have a lot more information about all of the graves, of course. But now we’re planning to extend the public part of the project with links to information on other sites. We also want to add more photographs. What’s more, users can contact us directly if they have more information that could add to the project.”

Brookwood cemetery, Great Britain, photo: www.army.cz
War Graves Record only recently went online, but the Defence Ministry has already registered some reaction, says Imrich Vetrák.

“It’s mostly been positive, but some people have said – which we expected – that some war graves are missing. That’s one reason we’ve made this project public, so that the public can help us find places we’ve forgotten for whatever reason. We react when we receive such information and add it to the website.”

You will find more information (some in English) at www.valecnehroby.army.cz