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DIOCESE OF GENEVA AND WESTERN EUROPE: June 12, 2007
Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe Performs a Pannikhida at a Cossack Cemetery

June 1 marked the 62 nd anniversary of the tragedy of Lienz. At the end of 1945, Cossacks and their families arrived in this city in eastern Tyrolia (Austria). Almost all of the 80,000 people were handed over to the Soviet authorities by the British. It has become tradition that on the first Saturday after June 1, a pannikhida is performed at the Cossack cemetery in Lienz for all those who were killed then and who suffered subsequently in prisons and concentration camps.

On Saturday, June 2, 2007, His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe served the pannikhida along with Protodeacon Peter Fegurek of Geneva and Protodeacon George Kobro of Munich.

As usual, on this day of sorrow, many pilgrims from various countries of Europe gathered at the memorial to the victims, as did representatives of veterans' organizations, historical societies and local government officials, as well as the people of Lienz who have not forgotten what happened in this cozy, green valley, site of one of the most tragic events of Russian history.

After the pannikhida, a speech was given by an 86-year-old native of Prussia who voluntarily shared the fate of the betrayed Cossacks, who himself only returned from the camps in the 1960's. Having become closely bound to the Cossacks during those years, he recounted everything he experienced.

In those bitter days of 1945, tens of thousands of Russians became victims of Stalin's executioners and their cohorts, officers of the British military. The Cossacks wished to preserve their faith, their foundations, but found themselves trapped between the millstones of godless ideologies. May the Lord grant peace to the innocent victims!