1 Million Medals Waiting for World War II Veterans
MOSCOW (AP) _ More than 1 million medals from World War II remain locked up at the Defense Ministry, waiting for the Soviet soldiers who earned them in battles that ended 50 years ago, a newspaper reported today.
The search for the soldiers or their survivors has been difficult because more than 20 million Soviet citizens died or disappeared in the war.
In addition, after the war Soviet army units were reshuffled, soldiers were discharged and many relocated to areas far from their original homes. Most veterans of the war are at least 70 years old.
``The cards with the names of the people who have not received them are stored in the Defense Ministry archives, the medals in their boxes are still in the Personnel Directorate safes,″ the Izvestia newspaper reported.
Lack of money and the sheer size of the task has slowed the search, the report said. Just to send letters looking for 100,000 people, one organization needed 250 million rubles, about $62,500 at current exchange rates.
``When I came to work in the Awards Department in 1988, we had more than 3 million awards here,″ Col. Gen. Valentin Yakovlev told the newspaper. ``We have done a lot to find their addressees, but I do not know how to find the remaining ones.″