There is a small town named Weingarten in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of southern Germany, north of the Bodensee (Lake Constance). Not far is a small forest which locals have called “Russian” for over 200 years. On its edge is a small hillock. On a picturesque parcel on this hill is a granite staircase with a stone over two meters high. An Orthodox cross is carved out of it with inscriptions in Russian and German: “To the Miracle Giants of Suvorov.”
Two hundred ten years ago, Russia’s General Alexander Suvorov, along with several thousand of his soldiers fighting against Napoleon, performed a legendary trek across the Alps. Not all of these heroes returned to their homeland: the injured and exhausted soldiers of Suvorov’s army were left to the care of a local monastery in Weingarten. Over 2,000 Russian soldiers were interred in German soil near the town.
The oldest Russian cemetery in Germany, “Russenfriedhof” im Wald /”Russenholzle” is at Wolfeggerstrasse, 88250 Weingarten.
The organizer of the commemoration of the Russian soldiers of Suvorov is Protodeacon Georg Kobro.
From the recollections of a local German, Johann Baptist Pflug, kept in the local town hall’s chronicles: “Russians had a great deal of respect for their dead… For each soldier they crafted a coffin from well-finished planks. A priest would sprinkle holy water on the grave. The dead were carried by their companions to the cemetery by hand, a half-hour-long journey. They filled the graves with their hands, watching that stones did not fall on the coffins, only soft clumps of earth, so that ‘light’ would be the foreign soil covering their graves. Leveling out the grave mound, the covered them with large stones. Over each grave they would erect a well-made cross…” The graves themselves have long vanished, the “Russian forest” having taken their place.
There is evidence that in the early 19th century, a stone was erected in the “Russian forest” to mark the memory of the soldiers of Suvorov which was removed by the French in 1850. Today’s stone was erected on November 14, 1948, by Russian emigres who formerly served in the Tsarist Army. Russian emigres have not forgotten this part of Russian history. Russian scout groups would visit the stones, where divine services would be held. Visitors to the site can also travel to the local Basilica of Weingarten to venerate the holy earth which came from under the Cross of Jesus Christ which contains His Blood, which was recovered by the repentant Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ’s side.
Christians have venerated the Holy Blood of Jesus Christ at Weingarten’s Benedictine Monastery for over 900 years. According to historians, the centurion Longinus brought the Holy Blood of Christ to Mantua, which, after its division into several parts, was distributed to rulers of the epoch.