Jun 30, 2020
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And one warrior in the field

And one warrior in the field

For 30 years, the self-taught search engine Aleksey Zykov managed to find and return to the family the memory of hundreds of soldiers of the Great Patriotic War.

Consider that Aleksey Aleksandrovich spent half his life searching for his father, who was missing in the years of World War II. And when he found, he decided to devote himself to the search for data on the dead soldiers, who were not waited from the front by thousands of wives, sisters and daughters.


As a child, Alexey was looking for his father in the streets - peering at passers-by, waiting at home. Only in 1947 did the Zykovs belatedly learn that their relative was missing.

“We became the family of the missing soldier,” Alexei Alexandrovich sighs, recalling how difficult it was for a family with four children.

Once in the military enlistment office someone scornfully abandoned his mother, saying, "he didn’t die at your place, go and go with the Germans in Argentina to make tea."

“During the war years, officials and servicemen in the military commissariats still somehow managed to make fun of them, even though evil irony was already reading in their eyes, and after 1945 everything became completely sad,” Zykov argues and adds that he had a personal insult that he didn’t they let their father be proud, as if belittling his merit: - I kept wondering where and how he died, or maybe survived?

The catch was the Book of memory, the release of which the state in the early 90s still attended to. Then archives, documents, sleepless nights ... About his father, Alexander Alekseevich, he found out that Private Zykov, called up from Yekaterinburg, was buried in a mass grave in the village of Krymsk, Stavropol Territory. Having found this out, he involuntarily thought: “There are thousands of people like me, but people don’t know how and where to look.” Today there are websites with declassified documents of the war years, and at the end of the twentieth century one could only dream about it.

Searching for his father, he noticed that there were 7371 people in the regional Book of Memory, and he suddenly noticed: people are looking and wondering - the one they are looking for is not there. “There was a murmur in the hall,” he adds.

Aleksey Zykov realized that in the military registration and enlistment offices, where the military personnel data for the Books of Memory were recorded, they did the job, to put it mildly, imperfectly.

“After a while, I found out how this happened: the warriors themselves decided who should be included in the lists and who shouldn’t: one has a biography that seems to be ambiguous, the other has a not very surname,” he says uncomplicated.

It was then that he decided that he should take care of helping people. The name of the organization that he created for the search appeared by itself: "Families of fallen soldiers."

In those years, the search for each soldier was difficult - the Internet was not there, the Books of Memory were incomplete, people were refused help in the archives, prices were so high that their hands fell, but many people opened their doors to him as a social activist. And soon they found out about his work in other regions - they began to invite, share their Books of Memory, and he helped to supplement them.


He drove through the cities of the Sverdlovsk region and watched as teachers in schools sometimes “due to lack of space” closed museums and memorial corners of the Great War. And those who saw surprised me with one-sidedness and ostentatious patriotism, which had nothing to do with honesty.

“Often on the map they painted the battle path of some regiment indicating the number of the destroyed enemy, but not a word about the losses of Soviet soldiers,” he recalls. - Portraits of the dead for a long time on the walls in schools were not there either - now they have appeared, since there are almost no living veterans. The same is on the monuments and obelisks in the villages: not all the names of those who left and did not return were knocked out.

Therefore, the “Families of the Fallen Warriors” are trying to ensure that to this day the monuments are updated, the names on them are added. Zykov says that the Sverdlovsk Region is approaching the 75th anniversary of Victory with partially triumphant justice. In some cities, the steles are filled correctly, but the work on drawing up lists of the dead and not returning will be enough, perhaps, until the 100th anniversary of the Victory. It remains to be seen why, for example, in the Central Archive of Military Burials of the Ministry of Defense of Russia by February 2018, 2 084 000 known and 2 141 000 unknown remains were buried in the mass graves of the Second World War.

“That is more than four million,” he shrugs, considering that it is fair to ask who these unknowns are. - So here they are, our missing soldiers, about which someone for some reason forgot. And it’s not in Argentina that they drink teas, but they became almost twice killed - first physically, then morally.

In the Books of Memory of the Sverdlovsk Region there are over 240,000 names. Missing - 123 734 people, dead - 124 000 soldiers.

“This is our region, and we were able to hold the military by the sleeve, explain what needs to be done with honor, and in other regions the“ memorable ”numbers are underestimated,” he convinces.

People feel this intuitively. Therefore, they write to him from many regions of the country, and in recent years they have also come from abroad. According to one of the requests in the documents of the Ministry of Defense, he was looking for a soldier with the surname Semukhin and ... he found another 87 front-line soldiers who were among the missing.

Today, awards often find their heroes, but not always those who should be encouraged. For Zykov, it is important that honor be given to fallen soldiers who have not seen a peaceful life.

“Our state is still stingy with awards to those who went missing on the fronts, although I’m sure they all deserve the medal“ For the victory over Germany ”, which was once received by all surviving veterans,” Alexei Alexandrovich sighs, but says, that there is a solution and does not require budgetary expenditures.

He shows me the Memorable Address of the Mayor of Yekaterinburg.

“Dear relatives of a warrior who gave his life in the battles of the Great Patriotic War in the name of freedom of the Motherland and the peaceful life of children and grandchildren! - it says. “Keep the Holy memory of the defender of the country and strive to maintain, together with the citizens of Russia, a memory fire in your hearts and in future generations.”

True, he managed to obtain a visa from the mayor only during the work of Eugene Roizman - he managed to sign papers for fifty soldiers. It has not yet been possible to convince the new government in Yekaterinburg that such thanks are important, that they will be protected like icons.


Difficult for Zykov were 2011-2012. In total, over two years, he received about one and a half thousand requests for help in the search, but in the “calm” 2018, about a hundred letters arrived.

Alexey Zykov and his assistants undertake to help everyone, because they have accumulated a large data archive and are able to use search services.

“It’s important for us to read in the letter what the soldier’s name was, what year he was born, where he came from, what military registration and enlistment office he was called up for, these widows must be required,” he explains and emphasizes that he could not have done without assistants - children and grandchildren of the victims.

True, he notes that, unfortunately, not everyone who fought can be found. There was a big gap among those who went to the front at the beginning of the war: they were forbidden to have extra documents with them, and not all of them who died were buried and reported losses to the command.

“I am doing everything I can,” he assures, admitting that he is only worried about his age. In January, Alexei Zykov turned 81, so he is working as fast as he can: conduct investigations, inform his family and take up the following names so that, as long as he has the strength, he can do as much as possible.

Write to you too. Address of Alexey Alexandrovich Zykov: 620075, Yekaterinburg, PO Box 41.

Maxim Gusev

Photo by the author.

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