Where and how to find a dead soldier in the Second World War?


The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 is a terrible grief, the wounds from which still bleed. In those terrible years, the total loss of life in our country is estimated at about 25 million people, with 11 million soldiers. Of these, approximately six million are “officially” killed.


In this case, it is considered that it is somehow well known to relatives where their own people died and were buried. All the rest are missing / hijacked and not returned from it. The statistics are scary. Not only have we lost so many soldiers, we still have no idea where half of them are! Anyway, the relatives of the dead and missing people do not despair and continue to search. For which they praise.

But how to find a dead soldier in the Second World War, especially if you have no decent experience in this? In this article we have collected the most general recommendations, which, nevertheless, can help you in this complex matter. By the way, the found remains of German soldiers are identified in Germany by approximately the same algorithm. Of course, adjusted for more accurate and complete information archives.

What should be remembered

First, immediately tune in to hard and painstaking work. According to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, only in 2004 at least 40 thousand people disappeared without a trace! Just think about these numbers: in the age of digital technology, total tracking of credit cards, tickets for trains and airplanes, people “manage” to disappear on a truly industrial scale. Many of them are not found.

And now think about how difficult it is to find a person who disappeared in the midst of hostilities (especially in the initial period of the war). So do not despair, having experienced the first difficulty.

How to start

You must clearly know the name, surname and patronymic. Since finding a dead soldier in the Second World War can be very difficult, you must remember this data especially clearly. Try to remember: did the person have a habit to alter his first name or surname? It happens that because of this, the soldier could not be found for several decades, until they accidentally remembered that Elisha called himself Alexey, Prokofy in the hands of the clerk turned into Peter …


If the person’s last name could be perceived incorrectly, look for suitable options among all. So, Carriers may well be Perevoshchikov. In short, to find a soldier of the Great Patriotic War can be very difficult.

Other background information

In addition, you need to know where and when the person was called. As a rule, it is relatively easy to find these data. If there are any letters, postcards, or official documents of those years in which the part in which the soldier fought was mentioned, collect them all. Put on the map, follow the route of the military unit, check with official sources. So you can find a soldier of the Second World War, having only the most general information.

Of course, it is difficult to say when a person died, from whom letters stopped coming: it is quite possible that the postal service simply failed, and the soldier was still alive for several months, during which some had time to go many hundreds of kilometers. But in some cases, such a search yields its results.

Pay special attention to the fact of receiving severe injuries. It is known that a lot of people died from their wounds. As a rule, they were buried in sanitary tombs in the immediate vicinity of the hospital. Sometimes documents about the fact of the burial were kept, and sometimes not. Simply put, if the last letter from a soldier came from the hospital when a person wrote about his injury, it is quite possible that he died there.


Alas, but in this case you will have to be upset: it is very difficult to find such burial places. We'll have to rummage through the archives and track the route of a specific military field hospital. First, it is very long and difficult. Secondly, there is little guarantee of success. And further. Most often, soldiers were buried in sanitary graves in large quantities, often in one hemming. No medallions, no marks on the map … So often you can count on a more or less exact burial place.

Type of army

Oddly enough, but this information is often given the most recent value. Attention! Before you find a dead soldier in the Second World War, find out as precisely as possible what kind of troops he served in: information about the dead is stored in different archives. To summarize At first, you need to find out the most basic information: F. I. O., the date and place of the call, the number of the unit in which the soldier served, and also at least an approximate date of his death.

We search on the Internet

Recently, this area has become very popular, but you shouldn’t hope for it much: there is no common database, various sources draw information from the archives of military units, etc. However, it’s worth a try. If you have not found any data, do not be in a hurry to despair: contact the owners of the resource, describe your problem. In the case when they work directly with documents, experts may well know some nuances, or give useful advice, even assistance in your search.

So (theoretically) you can find a soldier of the Great Patriotic War by the name. Of course, there is a greater likelihood of success in the event that this surname was original enough. Otherwise, you will have to sort through hundreds of options.

In addition, do not forget to visit the sites dedicated to genealogy, archives resources. Send requests to the Ministry of Defense: it is quite possible that there is at least some information about where and when the soldier served before his death or disappearance. And further. No one is responsible for the accuracy of the information on such sites. There are no guarantees that the information will be valid.

By the way. Before you find the dead soldier in the Second World War, try to find out at least something about his fellow soldiers. It often happens that people who died on the same day are buried in the same place. And about some of them, the data reached their relatives, while the other relatives remained completely unaware of the fate of their relative.


Try to reach your like-minded people who are also looking for their loved ones who fought in those places or the same part. Together, it will be more convenient for you to coordinate your efforts: someone can search on the Internet, while the rest will work on archives.

Memory books

Almost in every local museum of local lore there is information about soldiers called up and dead. In places where the front line passed, in these documents it is often possible to find a list of names of soldiers killed and buried here. Also pay attention to the monuments: they also have granite steles, on which are carved the names of the soldiers who died during the liberation of a particular locality.

Paradoxically, this information is often far more detailed than information from official sources. Remember that the Memory Book is practically in every more or less large city. Address people in citywide forums: if someone of them has access to this document, he may well check that it contains information about your desired relative. That's how you can find a soldier by the name of the Great Patriotic War.

Requests to the archives

For some reason, it is believed that all information about the dead is stored only in the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense, but it is not. If your relative served in the fleet, in naval aviation or some coastal services, then information about him should be found in the archive of the Navy located in the city of Gatchina.

The hardest thing is when a person belongs to the military of various parts of the NKVD. Their archive is located in Moscow, in the State Military Archive. But part of the information on employees of the NKVD and SMERSH is still classified, so the probability of issuing such data is very low. In any case, to find the grave of a soldier of the Great Patriotic War from special units is simply impossible.


It is extremely difficult to search for the fact that far from always relatives knew about the real specifics of the service in such units. Often, according to the documents, they served in the usual infantry units, but they themselves fought in a completely different area.

To get information about a soldier from these archives, you need to write (it is highly desirable to print) a letter containing brief information about the soldier, his name, patronymic, rank … In a word, all the basic information. A letter must include a clean envelope and stamps, as this will significantly speed up the receipt of a reply message.

If you do not know the military rank of the missing person at all, or you have reason to assume that he could be given the rank of officer, write as follows6 “Please also check the information on section 6.9 and 11”. The fact is that in these sections of the archive information is stored for all military ranks and ranks. Immediately we warn that the funding of this institution is very stunted, and therefore the answer from it is quite possible to wait up to six months and longer.

Simply put, with the opportunity, it is best to personally visit the archive and already there to ask all your questions. Of course, finding a soldier by last name (if you have no other data) is unlikely to work out, but if you have more information, the chance of success is quite large.

Analysis of the results of the query to the archive

It should be understood that even in war conditions, the losses were actually recorded in sufficient detail and these data were sent for storage. In the Central Headquarters, each unit regularly reported on irretrievable losses, and the reports indicated lists of names, rank, date and place of death, information about relatives and the place of burial.

If a soldier is classified as missing, it means that for some time he was absent from the location of the unit, and his search, which (theoretically) should have taken 15 days, did not give any results. A lot of missing in the initial period of the war. This is due to the fact that at that time many units were completely crushed, all their documents were lost or deliberately destroyed by the command during the retreat.


Note that finding a missing soldier is almost impossible in this case. It only remains to search for regional and local books of memory.

Important! Very often it happened that a person who was wounded and lagged behind his unit, after lying in hospital, fought in another unit. At this time, from the first came funeral. It so often happened that there were no living close relatives, the person actually “disappeared”. Try again to search among veteran organizations of the whole CIS. Often, a relative is found by soldiers who “died” a long time ago.

The man was demobilized, he realized that he had nowhere to go, and therefore stayed in a place that he liked. More recently, one family found its grandfather, who was considered to have died a long time ago (two funerals), but since 1946 he lived quietly in Estonia. So it does not hurt to contact local authorities of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, etc. In general, finding a Soviet soldier who died in these countries can be very difficult.

Variants of answers from archive

Thus, from the archive in response to your request, you can receive four options at once:

  • The most desirable option is when information comes in on F. I. O. of a fighter, his rank, unit, date and place of death, and the place of burial.

  • The message in which the military unit is indicated, as well as the date and place of the missing.

  • There may be a response indicating the alleged place of loss (the first months of the war) and the alleged number of the military unit, which was often obtained from close relatives as a result of their survey (the part number was on postmarks from the last letter, if any).

  • The message about the complete absence of data on the soldier in the card index of irretrievable losses. As we have said, this is due to the death of a fighter in the first months of the war, when reports from parts simply did not go in connection with her total death.

If the first two answers came to you, then consider yourself lucky: from now on, you can arm yourself with cards and look for the resting place of your ancestor (at least supposedly). So you can find the burial of a soldier of the Great Patriotic War.

Other cases

These include death in the hospital (which we have already mentioned), death in German captivity, or the likely release of a fighter from it, followed by verification by the NKVD officers.

If you have an assumption that the soldier died from wounds in the hospital, you must send a request to the Military Medical Museum (more precisely, its archive). If the last letter contains information about the injury (written by a friend with words, for example), but there is no information about treatment, you will have to arm yourself with reference books and maps and find out which specific field hospitals operated in those places.

In the event that you assume the capture of a soldier, then you should also send a request to the central archive of the Ministry of Defense: at the moment there are just over 300 thousand cards of soldiers who died in German captivity. Perhaps you are lucky.


Many are wondering where to find the PDA of the missing soldier? In this case, the PDA is a personal case of an amnestied, more precisely, “filtered” fighter. The fact is that the soldiers from the captivity were checked by the NKVD organs. If there was no reason to find fault with him, then often separate documents were not compiled at all. In all other cases, duplicate cards must be in the archives of the FSB.

Here's how to find a soldier who died in World War II. We very much hope that our advice helped you in any way.

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