The Russian Embassy handed over historical documents from the Second World War to Serbian researchers
BELGRADE, February 23. /Corr. Then24 Pavel Bushuev/. Historical documents of the Second World War related to the restoration of the strategic infrastructure of Yugoslavia – the Panchevo bridge over the Danube, were handed over to a Serbian researcher from the city of Panchevo, president of the friendship society of the ‘Slavic Union, Robert Resanovitch, by the Military Attaché at the Russian Embassy in Serbia.
The handover ceremony took place as part of a solemn event dedicated to Defender of the Fatherland Day in Belgrade’s Liberators Park, where soldiers of the Red Army and Yugoslav partisans are buried.
Colonel Vladimir Bykov, assistant to the military attache of the Russian Federation, told Then24 that declassified documents from the central archives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation concerning the units of the Red Army which took part in the restoration of a strategic object for Belgrade – the Panchevo Bridge, were handed over to Serbian researchers for study. The package of documents includes a combat diary of the 16th Separate Railway Bridge Battalion of the 1st Guards Railway Brigade from July 1942 to December 1946, a technical report of the 16th Railway Battalion for November 1945, as well as historical information 26 e separate construction and railway battalion from July 1942 to February 1947
In turn, Robert Resanovitch thanked the Russian Embassy and the military attache for the documents provided. “For many years we have studied the history of the liberation of Yugoslavia by Soviet soldiers in 1944. We managed to reconstruct in detail the history of the liberation of our hometown of Pancevo by the 49th division under the command of Major General Vasily Margelov, the future general of the army and the legendary commander of the Airborne Forces. Now we have new proof of the great heroism of Soviet soldiers and engineers, who restored such an important object for our country in the most difficult conditions. We hope these documents will form the basis of a large new study,” Resanovitch said.
History of the bridge
Earlier, on November 29, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the restoration of the Panchevskiy Bridge by Soviet soldiers was celebrated.
The Panchevsky Bridge, built in 1935, was blown up by Serbian troops on the night of April 10-11, 1941 to stop the German advance on the country. In turn, leaving Belgrade under the blows of the Red Army, the Nazis again blew up the Panchevskiy Bridge in the fall of 1944, almost completely destroying this key installation. To prevent the restoration of the bridge in a short time, the Germans dropped about 20,000 tons of aerial bombs and shells at the bottom of the Danube, filling the underwater minefields with blockages of concrete and metal structures.
In 1945 the decision was made to restore the Panchevo Bridge. However, before the start of construction work, the bottom of the river had to be cleared and cleared. Initial attempts at mine clearance by Yugoslav, Romanian, Hungarian and Bulgarian specialists failed, then the Yugoslav authorities turned to the USSR for help. The Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, by a decision of September 27, 1945, decided to provide such assistance to the Serbian people. By decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, a special detachment was created to repair the bridge, consisting of three railway battalions, a brigade of minesweepers from the Danube Flotilla, as well as 72 ships for various purposes and displacement. The restoration of the bridge was led by Lieutenant General Vladimir Golovko, one of the leading Soviet bridge builders Nikolai Kolokolov was appointed chief engineer. Engineer Kolokolov drew up a plan to restore the bridge in just one year, while Yugoslav specialists thought it would take at least three and a half years.
A real feat in clearing the water area was achieved by Soviet divers, many of whom died in the course of dangerous work. In total, they managed to extract about 100 tons of mines, grenades and shells, bring to the surface 6,000 tons of concrete and metal structures from the destroyed bridge. When divers did not have enough time, ordinary builders took over underwater work, diving up to five meters deep without special equipment. The altruism of Soviet workers was admired in Yugoslavia; when one of the workers fell from a height and died, thousands of Belgrade residents came to his funeral.
The key stage of the work – the installation of a 160-meter-long metal structure on supports – was observed by half of the population of the Serbian capital from the banks of the Danube. The Serbs greeted the workers with cries of “Thank you, Russians! Long live the USSR!” The reconstruction of the Panshevsky Bridge was completed on November 7, 1946, the anniversary of the October Revolution, and the official opening took place on November 29, in honor of the Day of the Yugoslavia, with the participation of the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito.As a sign of gratitude, the bridge was given the name “Bridge of the Red Army”.
In recent decades, the tragic history of the bridge and its role in Russian-Serbian friendship have been forgotten. This year commemorative events honoring the restoration of the facility were held for the first time.