The Dagestani poet Rasul Gamzatov, when visiting Hiroshima, was impressed by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the monument to Sadako Sasaki. The memory of paper cranes made by the girl haunted him for months and inspired him to write a poem starting with the now famous lines: "It seems to me sometimes that our soldiers That were not to return from fields of gore Did not lie down into our land But turned into a wedge (triangle) of white cranes...". The poem was originally written by Rasul Gamzatov in Avar language. There are another versions exist of this poem's creature history. Its famous Russian translation was soon made by a Russian poet and translator Naum Grebnyov.
The poem's publication in the journal Novy Mir caught the attention of the famous actor and crooner Mark Bernes who revised the lyrics and asked Yan Frenkel to compose the music. When Frenkel first played his new song, Bernes (who was ill with lung cancer) cried because he felt that this song was about his own fate: "There is a small empty spot in the crane wedge. Maybe it is reserved for me. One day I will join them, and from the skies I will call on all of you whom I had left on the Earth." Song was recorded of just one try on July 8, 1969. Bernes died a month after the recording on Aug 16, 1969, and the record was played at his funeral. Bernes' last song premiered later in 1969 and has since become one of the best known Russian-language songs all over the world.
In the aftermath, white cranes have become associated with dead soldiers, so much so that a range of WWII memorials in the former Soviet Union feature the image of flying cranes and, in several instances, even the lines from the song.
- In 2003 Marc Almond recorded an English version "The Storks" for his album Heart on Snow.
- This song was featured in a famous Korean Drama called Sandglass (TV series).
- Serebro performed this song in 2007