Glad to meet you again, my son…
Alexander Andreevich Nagaitsev met his father after 74 years.
On April 11th, a large-scale patriotic action came to an end in Almaty, the Repuplic of Kazakhstan: the bones of Andrey Yegorovich Nagaitsev, the staff sergeant of the Guards, who left for the front from those places, who defended Leningrad were laid to rest.
There Are No Unheralded Heroes
A lot of human and capital resources were involved to return the soldier home. But everything started from a search operation that was crowned with success on 11th June 2017. Then the scouts of Tallinn Military History Union “Front Line” together with Estonian Military History Club found bones of eight Soviet soldiers in Vaivara Parish, Ida-Viru County in northeastern Estonia.
Among decayed clothes there were found two Medals for Bravery, a Medal "For the Defence of Leningrad" and two rusty badges – “The Guards” and “Excellent Mortar Man”. After that the scouts got the official records from the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and managed to find out that both medals belonged to one soldier - Andrey Yegorovich Nagaitsev, the artillery forward observer, mortar gunner of the 188th guards rifle regiment of the 63rd guards rifle division, 1918 birth year. It turned out that he was born in the village of Baranovka, Zmeinogorsk district, the Altai Territory and was conscripted by Shemonaikha district military commissariat of the Kazakh SSR. He went through Finnish War. He started the Great Patriotic War on 22nd June 1941. Andrey Nagaytsev was awarded the Order of the Red star, the Medal "For the Defence of Leningrad", the Excellent Mortar Man badge for valour and feats at the fronts. He was killed in the battle of Tannenberg line in northeastern Estonia on 15th February 1944. He had been considered missing till the summer of 2017. But in Kazakhstan his wife and his small son were waiting for him…
74 years have passed since Andrey Nagaitsev’s death. His spouse was assumed into heaven a long time ago not knowing where the ashes of her dearest Andryushenka were rest. His son Sasha – Alexander Andreevich Nagaytsev – grew up without his unknown but beloved father whose destiny he didn’t even hope to find out. But in 2017 the work to look for Nagaytsev’s descendants was in full swing in social networking services; the information was sent to the Altai Territory in search of them, and there were a lot of messages about the soldier found in various forums and groups as well. There turned out to be no relatives in the Altai Territory, so they appealed to the general public in Kazakhstan.
The Chairperson of the Military History Union “Front Line” Andrey Lazurin has a long-standing friendship with two granddaughters of General Panfilov, who live in Almaty and who are true patriots of the country and memories of the Great Patriotic War. He asked them to help to find Andrey Nagaitsev’s descendants and Baikadamov sisters responded. Aigul Bakhytzhanovna posted a message in social networks of Kazakhstan and almost at once they got a reply that the soldier’s son is still alive and he wanted his father’s ashes to be brought to Almaty.
No man left behind!
Approval of the Estonian government to transport the bones of the hero of the Great Patriotic War to Kazakhstan was received with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
There was approval, but, as is known, scouts don’t have finances to provide transportation, an escort and funeral arrangements. Then Andrey Lazurin appealed to Grachya Pogosyan, St. Petersburg’s philanthropist, the president of his own Charitable Foundation once again. At the same time the patron got similar appeals from General Panfilov’s granddaughters – Aigul and Alua Baikadamovs, from the Co-ordinating Council of non-governmental organizations of the veterans and the disabled of the war in Afghanistan and local military conflicts (the letter was signed by the chairman Murat Abdushkurov), and from Alexander Nagaitsev – the hero’s son. Every one knowing Grachya Pogosyan’s concerned attitude to what is connected to the Great Patriotic War expressed hope that he would respond and assist in transporting the bones of the staff sergeant to Kazakhstan.
As is known, more than one joint project to preserve memories of the heroes and events of World War II has been realized by “Front Line” in collaboration with Grachya Pogosyan. Only in 2017 Nikolay Fedorovich Sorokin born in Semipalatinsk, now Semeya, the Republic of Kazakhstan was returned after being found in Estonia. At that time the patriotic action involved delegations from Russia, Armenia, Estonia and Uzbekistan. The soldier was laid to rest properly; Grachya Pogosyan sponsored not only transportation but the erection of the monument and the improvement of the territory nearby. The action included the unveiling of a khachkar to memorialize the daughters of Armenia who were prisoners of Akmolinskii Camp for Wives of Traitors of the Motherland. It was installed at the expense of Grachya Pogosyan on the grave site that is near Astana.
This time the philanthropist has stepped in as well. No man left behind is Grachya Pogosyan’s motto.
On 9th April 2018, the hearse with the ashes of Andrey Egorovich Nagaitsev arrived in St. Petersburg. To pay last respects to the hero of the Great Patriotic War before transporting him home, a memorial service was held in the Museum of the Defence and Siege of Leningrad. Not only those personally involved in the process gathered there but survivors of the Siege of Leningrad, scouts, representatives of the Military Patriotic Club ‘Komsomolets’, concerned citizens and journalists attended it as well. Dudar Tusupovich Zhakenov, Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Tallinn and the leaders of the Kazakh Society “Ata-Meken” in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region came to St. Petersburg to give the bones of their countryman solemnly. The guests were welcomed by the Head of the museum Elena Lezik.
“Andrey Egorovich Nagaitsev defended Leningrad, shed his blood here for what he was awarded the Medal "For the Defence of Leningrad", so it is very symbolic to pay him last respects within the walls of the Museum of the Defence and Siege of Leningrad,” Elena Lezik underlined in her speech.
“I’d like to express my gratitude to the philanthropist Grachya Pogosyan, Andrey Lazurin and the Head of the museum for what you are doing. For my part, I’d like to say that this tradition will continue and we are ready to lend assistance under the diplomatic mission,” Dudar Zhakenov noted.
Grachya Pogosyan thanked everybody present and stressed that we mustn’t forget our history and our heroes under any circumstances.
The Vice-Chairperson of St. Petersburg’s society “Survivors of the Siege of Leningrad” Lidiya Nikolayevna Romanova wholeheartedly thanked Grachya Pogosyan for his personal involvement and stressed that he was not only an honorable member of their organization but a guardian angel for the people who survived in the Siege of Leningrad.
A prayer service for the soldier was held by the rector of St. Petersburg temple of the icon “Joy of All Sorrowing”, archpriest Vyacheslav Kharinov – papa of scouts, as they call him.
After the ceremony Grachya Pogosyan organized a farewell lunch for those present where every one said that despite everything, our nations had succeeded in preserving friendship, and keeping memory of the Victory and heroes of World War II would only strengthen our relations.
At the very time the hearse with the bones of Andrey Yegorovich Nagaitsev was delivered to the airport to finally fly home the next day.
Gone to eternal rest
The next day a large delegation from St. Petersburg and Moscow headed by Grachya Pogosyan, the organizer and sponsor of that tour, flew to Almaty with a two-day visit to lay Andrey Nagaitsev to rest in home grounds. Among the delegates were Colonel General Anatoliy Zaitsev with his spouse, Honorary chairman of the Council of war and military service veterans of High Command of the Land Forces, general-lieutenant Norat Ter-Grigoryants, general-lieutenant Victor Sukharev, Hero of the Russian Federation Valery Chukhvantsev, Honoured Cultural Worker of Russia, retired Colonel Yuri Klenov, the chairman of Military History Club “Front Line” Andrey Lazurin and the chief editor of “Noev Kovcheg” Grigory Anisonyan.
Late in the evening Kazakhstan met the guests with a shower. “The weather is crying,” a lot of welcomers were saying at the international airport of Almaty. So, under the sounds of heavy rain and the military band the silent drill team took the hearse with the bones of the staff sergeant Andrey Nagaitsev away from the plane.
His elderly 79-year-old son met him there holding his portrait in the hands and keeping back tears. There were veterans of the War, representatives of the consular mission of the Russian Federation, honorary freemen, the youth and journalists alongside with him. The hearse with the ashes was taken to the Army House to be paid last respects there the next day. The meeting was so soul-stirring that a lot of people couldn’t keep back tears.
“I’m very glad that the father has been found and he will be buried in home grounds,” Alexander Andreevich Nagaitsev told the journalists.
Grachya Pogosyan said: “I understand the importance and the necessity of this event today, that the soldier, the staff sergeant will be laid to rest in home grounds where his relatives are. It’s important for the son to be able to pay his respect, to touch the ashes of his father.”
The guests were not allowed to leave the airport by the journalists for a long time as the events like that with a lot of Generals from different countries participating are very rare.
It’s necessary to mention that the Co-ordinating Council of non-governmental organizations of the veterans and the disabled of the war in Afghanistan and local military conflicts under the guidance of its Chairperson Murat Abdushkurov took the organization upon itself and held it at high standards.
On April 11th, the Army House of Alamaty was full. But before the ceremony General Panfilov’s granddaughter Alua Baidakamova, who is the Head of the Museum of Military History named after I.V. Panfilov, introduced the guests with the history of the Museum, with its unique exhibits and spoke about the present day difficulties. Grachya Pogosyan couldn’t stay indifferent to the problems of the Museum and financed purchase of exhibition equipment. In his turn Talgat Sadykov, a research fellow of the Museum, presented Grachya Pogosyan with a Kazakh traditional dressing gown “shapan” on behalf of his father, Zhurumbek Sadykov, the veteran of the Great Patriotic War as a mark of respect. According to Talgat Zhurumbekovich, one famous and respectable man presented that shapan to his father back then.
“When my father knew which noble work you were doing, he asked me to give this shapan to you as that special someone and wished you to live a good life till his age. He is 95 now,” Talgat Sadykov said smiling and gave the present.
The official ceremony has started. To pay their last respects to the hero the military of the Department of defense of the city have come along with the Council of Generals of the Republic, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Almaty, the command of the Almaty regional garrison, Cadet corps of the Military Institute of the Land Forces and the Academy of the Border Service of the NSC of the RK, representatives of the US and Poland diplomatic corps. Ara Saakyan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia in Kazakhstan, Saak Salumyan, the Diaspora Armenian, the secretary of the Van Ethnocultural Centre and the Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in Kazakhstan, Colonel Amanzhol Urazbayev have specially come to the memorial service from Astana. Of course, the delegation of honorary guests from Russia headed by Grachya Pogosyan was present as well.
The hearse of the hero was covered with the flag of Kazakhstan. The main guests delivered their speeches right after the funeral march, the national anthem and a minute of silence.
“I have mixed feelings. I’m both glad and sad. I’m glad because the hero will be laid to rest in home grounds; I’m sad because we will remember of those killed during the war. I’d like to thank the scouts who are doing very important work as our history is our nation’s common memory,” Alexey Demin, Consul General of RF in Almaty said.
Andrey Lazurin spoke about the work which had been done to find Andrey Yegorovich Nagaitsev and the work due to which the bones had finally returned home.
“I’d like to thank every one who has taken part in the action, as it involved a lot of unindifferent people. Thanks to the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia for the on-the-spot permitting work, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Consulate General in Tallinn. Special thanks to Grachya Pogosyan. When I addressed him and said that a soldier had been found but we couldn’t take him home, he replied that it was not necessary to explain anything as he would do everything possible to bury him with honors,” Andrey Lazurin stressed. He expressed gratitude to the Co-ordinating Council of non-governmental organizations of the veterans and the disabled of the war in Afghanistan and local military conflicts under the guidance of its Chairperson Murat Abdushkurov, and every one who have come to pay their last respects to Andrey Nagaitsev and pay tribute to him.
Alexander Nagaitsev thanked everybody who helped to find his father and transport his bones to Almaty.
“I didn’t know my father’s fate until later and considered him to be missing,” the soldier’s son said.
“People of Kazakhstan have reverent attitude to the Victory, so I’ve supported the action with great pleasure. The whole delegation has come here to express love to the Victory, love to the people of Kazakhstan. We hold the memorial service with honors in St. Petersburg through the kind offices from Kazakhstan’s community. A lot of people had tears as if everything happened the day before. I’m sure that similar actions will strengthen relations between our countries and our nations. I’d like to thank our hero’s son Alexander Nagaitsev for his trust and for having waited for his father. Let me convey the warmest greetings from the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad as I was asked to do it. Of course, I bow to Andrey Yegorovich for his feat, for defending Leningrad, for liberating our country from the enemy,” Grachya Pogosyan said in his speech.
In his turn, Murat Abdushkurov stressed the importance of such actions not only for the relatives of soldiers but for the younger generation as well.
“They must be proud of being the descendants of those heroes,” Murat Mukhtarovich pointed out.
He handed over grateful letters on behalf of Bakhtyzhan Yertaev, the People’s Hero of Kazakhstan, Sharipbay Utegenov, the chairman of the Council of war and local conflicts veterans of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Murat Abdushkurov, the chairman of the Co-ordinating Council to Grachya Pogosyan and Andrey Lazurin. He presented them with badges “To the Warrior-Internationalist”.
Certainly, the Afghan war veterans couldn’t but greet the combat general, the Chief of the 40th Army Staff in Afghanistan who came together with the delegation from Russia – Norat Ter-Grigoryants.
Norat Grigoryevich greeted the Afghan war veterans warmly and reminded them of their invaluable contributions to the outcome of that war.
“We have gathered here for another reason,” Ter-Grigoryants noted, “By the example of Andrey Nagaitsev, who served our Motherland faithfully and loyally, friendly and brotherly relations between the Russian, Kazakh, Armenian and other nations of the Soviet Union are exemplified as the youth present here don’t know what the Soviet Union was, and how friendly we were, and how faithful we were to our Motherland. Speaking about Andrey Nagaitsev, we mean Kazakhstan and Kazakh people, their place and their role during the years of the Great Patriotic War. I’m the son of the small Armenian nation 6oo thousands out of which fought in that war and 310 thousands were killed at the fronts. But despite all that, we are famous for our Marshalls – the Marshal of Armored Forces Babadzhanyan, the Marshall of Engineer Force Aganov, the Marshall of Air Force Khanferyan. There were two Admirals of the Fleet of the Soviet Union – Kuznetsov and Isakov (Isakyan). It means that the Armenian people contributed to the Victory as well. So, hats off, people of Kazakhstan, great thanks for everything!”
The official ceremony is over. The hearse with the bones of Andrey Nagaitsev is put at the eternal light.
Then the garrison marched past paying tribute to the hero, the guests laid wreaths and flowers to the eternal light. After that the hearse was put on the gun carriage, and the cortege headed for the central cemetery of the city.
The ashes of the hero were laid to rest on the Alley of Glory where other veterans of the Great Patriotic War are buried. The wreaths to the burial place of Andrey Nagaitsev were laid on behalf of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Kazakhstan, delegates from St. Petersburg and Moscow, the Grachya Pogosyan Charitable Foundation and other participants of the ceremony. The three-volley salute was fired to honor the hero.
During the post-funeral reception organized by The Grachya Pogosyan Foundation a lot of warm words were spoken, certificates of acknowledgement and memorable gifts were presented to those ones who had contributed to transport the staff sergeant of the Guards Andrey Nagaitsev home. The Medal of the Hero of the Soviet Union the People’s Hero General of the Army Nurmagambetov Sagadat Kozhakhmetovich awarde by a member of the Presidency of the Regional Non-Governmental Organization the Council of Generals Almasbek Abdrakhmanov became the most valuable present for Grachya Pogosyan. Colonel General Anatoliy Zaitsev distinguished the enthusiasts from the Kazakh side having awarded them Medals “100 years of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army”. The Grachya Pogosyan Charitable Foundation presented Kazakh organizers with valuable gifts as well. But the most symbolic was the fact that the day when Andrey Nagaitsev was laid to rest was his son’ birthday. He turned 79…
Children Are Our Future
The main mission why the guests from St. Petersburg, Moscow and Estonia arrived was over but not the programme of the welcoming side. On that day the guests of honour were expected by the educatees of a unique in its way educational establishment the Arystan Specialized Lyceum located in the picturesque foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau. The place is really unique in all senses: from its location to modern buildings and indoor equipment. All the capabilities of the educational establishment were introduced during the excursion conducted by the tutors of the Lyceum first and then by its Head Major General Sabit Taulanov.
It should be mentioned that the educational process in the Lyceum is aimed at ensuring high level of education, fostering such qualities of personality as courage, endurance, persistence, strong character, high culture, a developed feeling of patriotism and civic duty. Having completed their education at lyceum the students have to be able to fulfill their constitutional and civil duties serving in defense and law enforcement agencies in sovereign Kazakhstan.
Would-be Lyceum students are enrolled on the competitive base after passing the entrance exams in major subjects such as mathematics, physics as well as the Kazakh, Russian and English languages, after passing through professional psychological selection procedure (including IQ tests), medical check-up and examination of physical training. Children from needy families and families with many children have a priority right in admission to the Lyceum. In spite of all the demands, there are more and more children wishing to study at Lyceum each year.
After knowing about the peculiarities of the educational process and of housing conditions, the honorary guests were invited to the Hall. Lyceum students met Russian Generals with pride and interest within the walls of their educational establishment. Sabit Saumenovich Taylanov spoke about the mission of the Russian delegation in Alamaty and stressed the inseparability of the relations between our countries. He admired that in our present difficult economic situation it was especially surprising and valuable that the organization of such a visit the Grachya Pogosyan Charitable Foundation could undertake.
Then the Lyceum students gave a concert showing the musical ant artistic talents.
At the end of the meeting all the guests were presented with certificates of acknowledgement and memorable gifts. In his turn Grachya Pogosyan presented the educational establishment with a set of patriotic documentary films that were shot on his own initiative and at his expenses, he also gave a mosaic picture with the views of St. Petersburg made by St. Petersburg masters.
Each of the guests noted love and attitude which are paid to the younger generation in Kazakhstan.
On the last day of the visit the guests were awaited at the Kazakh-Russian gymnasium №54 named after the Hero of the Soviet Union Major General Ivan Vasilyevich Panfilov. An interesting concert programme had been prepared there as the visit coincided with awarding General Panfilov a rank of the Hero of the Soviet Union.
The Headmaster of the gymnasium Gulnara Karametdinova introduced each guest and noted their contribution that they had made having come to Kazakhstan. The students showed their skills during the inspection of order and song and proved that they deserve being young Panfilovtsy. To remember the visit by, Grachya Pogosyan presented the school with a tea set made by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in St. Petersburg and a set of documentary films.
On that day Grachya Pogosyan was accepted in the ranks of Panfilovtsy. Aigul Baikadamova presented the philanthropist with a certificate of acknowledgment on behalf of the Panfilov’s Foundation and a Medal “I.V. Panfilov – 120 from the date of the birth”.
So the mission was completed on such a joyful note; it once again proved that there are no unremembered hero and names.