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New website helps Russians trace war dead

Nineteen million documents stored in the archives of Russia's Defence Ministry have been digitalised. The aim of the project was to help people find relatives killed or never found during World War II. The site has attracted millions of visitors from acr

It took a year of tireless work to sort and scan the records. Before scanning, the documents needed to be smoothed out to guarantee no information was lost.

Now, the website www.obd-memorial.ru allows people looking for their lost friends and relatives to carry out their own investigations into what happened.

Records include not only the name, date and place of birth and death, but also scans of original documents.

Head of the Military Memorial Centre, General Aleksandr Kirilin, says he receives dozens of grateful letters. People who've spent years trying to trace their relatives were eventually able to find them within minutes using the new resource.

Once, he says, researchers came across a mass grave with 148 bodies. But there was only one name tag. “We searched the database. And found the names of all the remaining servicemen buried in the grave. According to the records, they were buried exactly where we found them,” he said.

Organisers of the project say there's still a lot of work to keep them busy next year – scanning more documents, adding new names and helping more people find out where their loved ones came to rest.