PDA

View Full Version : Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?



Egorka
04-04-2008, 06:29 AM
Hello,

My granddad, Yurii V. Klimov (1922-2002) (http://community.livejournal.com/ww2_photographs/233197.html), left 3 volumes of hand writen memoirs. More than 1000 pages including photographs where he describes his life from the childhood in a tiny Sibirian town until the retirement in Moscow. During the war he was in occupation in the city of Odessa until april 1944. After he was in RKKA the second line troop delivering the munition to the frontline. He was in Romania, Yugoslavia and ended the war in Hungary. After the war he studied in Moscow in the "Institute of Geodesy, Aerial photography and Cartography". He was working in the area of the soil recourse management for agricultural and industrial purposes.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2260/2196020906_b9c67177b7_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2043/2196020938_bd2ce3188e_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2170/2198192634_7821d3c1a9_m.jpg

I started to convert them into electronic format. So far I inserted only first 40 pages.
You can get a taste of it in the following Russian links:

part 1: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/42044.html
part 2: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/43820.html
part 3: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/54914.html
part 4: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/57308.html
part 5: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/64888.html
part 6: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/71155.html
part 7: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/75234.html
part 8: comming soon


And you can get a taste of it in English in these couple of places:

quote 1: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=100491#post100491
quote 2: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=121951#post121951


Start here... (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showpost.php?p=122741&postcount=14)

The question is do you want me to translate some parts of it into Eglish and place in the forum?
I need to know how many people are interested.

ww2admin
04-04-2008, 10:21 AM
I would be interested in it!

larryparamedic
04-04-2008, 11:53 AM
Personally I am. Any written true accounts of those years are worth reading imo. Especially those giving insight into wartime Russia, always a closed place to Americans in that time.

Major Walter Schmidt
04-04-2008, 10:50 PM
Uber! It will make a good book.... A biased view from a KGB agent is always priceless;)

Rising Sun*
04-05-2008, 03:18 AM
I'm interested, but I'd need a bit of background for the text, such as explaining why Romanians are involved in the first link.

Egorka
04-05-2008, 03:54 AM
I'm interested, but I'd need a bit of background for the text, such as explaining why Romanians are involved in the first link.
I do not quite get what you are asking about.
Maybe this helps: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=97142#post97142

Rising Sun*
04-05-2008, 04:12 AM
I do not quite get what you are asking about.
Maybe this helps: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=97142#post97142

It helps, and it doesn't.

There's a complex history there which I don't know anything about and which I'd need to understand why Romanians were threatening your grandfather. That's what I was getting at about needing some background, to understand the context of his experiences.

George Eller
04-05-2008, 07:06 AM
-

Thanks for sharing Igor.

Yes, I think that it is interesting reading. A nice tribute to your grandfather, although it will keep you busy for some time.

:)

-

Egorka
04-05-2008, 04:05 PM
It helps, and it doesn't.

There's a complex history there which I don't know anything about and which I'd need to understand why Romanians were threatening your grandfather. That's what I was getting at about needing some background, to understand the context of his experiences.

Dani: Egorka, did your grandfather remeber the incidents occured on the occupying of Odessa (huge explosion on the Romanian 10th infantry division HQ and reprisals afterwards?

Egorka: I got the papers. There is a page about the event in the days just after the exlosion.

side notes:

-1- (http://www.geocities.com/~orion47/ROMANIA/Rom-Army.html) In the wake of an explosion on October 22, 1941 in the Romanian headquarters in Odessa, Antonescu ordered that for every Romanian or German officer killed, 200 persons were to be killed, and 100 for every Romanian or German enlisted man; 25,000 Odessa Jews were thus murdered.
-2- (http://www.bh.org.il/Exhibitions/Odessa/community.asp) In the first reprisals carried out the following day, 5,000 persons, most of them Jews, were killed. Many of them were hanged at crossings and in the public squares. Ion Antonescu ordered the execution of 200 communists for every officer who had been killed, and 100 for every soldier, and ordered that one member of every Jewish family be taken hostage. Nineteen thousand Jews were arrested and brought to the square at the harbor, doused with gasoline, and burned. Another 16,000 were taken the following day to the outskirts, where all of them were massacred.


My granddad: The next day, 23 of October... the night went very unrestfull... Suddenly a sharp noise of а butt-stock on the front door and shout in Romainian language. I was already dressed and thefore went to open the door...
...
Much later it got known that on 22nd of October the former NKVD headquarters were blown up.
...
That is why the Romanians commited bloody reprisals over the citezens, shot on the spot, hang on the light poles and balсonies.

City of Odesa was occupied by primarily Romanian forces and the Romanian administration was established in the city.
Odesa is on the sea coast just right of Romania (see map).

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/ukraine.gif

Chevan
04-06-2008, 11:58 PM
Its amazing matter mate.
Thank you ( although i 've watched it already).
SO does for the terrorist act in Odessa really have been executed ONLY the JEws?

Egorka
04-07-2008, 01:57 AM
SO does for the terrorist act in Odessa really have been executed ONLY the JEws?
I do not think only Jews were punished for that, but most of the victim in this case seem to be Jews.
I guess the explosion was the trigger to initiate the Jewish extermination in the area. I guess it hastened the start of the action.

Chevan
04-07-2008, 02:44 AM
I do not think only Jews were punished for that, but most of the victim in this case seem to be Jews.
I guess the explosion was the trigger to initiate the Jewish extermination in the area. I guess it hastened the start of the action.
But who did realize this execution?Was it just Germans special SS groups?
Really the Romanians had the deels with it?

Egorka
04-07-2008, 03:31 AM
Really the Romanians had the deels with it?
The Romanians at least arrested and gathered the poor Jews. Who exactly shot and burned them I do not know. There were some German troops present in the area. But I guess Romanian troops were heavily involved too. At the end it was Antonescou, IIRC, ordered the retaliation action to begin.

Egorka
04-14-2008, 09:22 AM
Here is the first part that I translated. I desided to start from the chapter where my grandad describes the last part of the ocupation of Odessa and how it was libirated, how he was enlisted into RKKA and later his srvice in Romania and Hungary.
This part of memoirs was writen in 1986
.



- 1 -
10 April 1944 – A sacred day for me and the people of Odessa.
The summer 1942 passed quickly and unremarkably for all the occupants of our apartment. The news from the front that managed to reach us was grievous. German forces had reached the area of the Don River, and were approaching Stalingrad and the North Caucasus area. But Moscow still stood and gave hope to the Soviet people. The German, Austrian and Rumanian press was full of frontline reports proclaiming numerous victories. There were many photo-reports. There was a German magazine “Berliner Illustrated” which was especially known for its glorification of German victories. Looking at its pages I was particularly depressed by the photo-reports showing our POWs: pitiful, exhausted, badly clothed, hungry, ill… But the German troops were always shown fit and healthy, well equipped with automatic weapons, and riding motorcycles or personnel carriers. Everywhere death and destruction, burning towns and villages. The civilians also looked dull and grey. The reporters were clearly determined not to show Russia in the same light as German occupied Europe. All the time the photographs were filled with houses with straw roofs, people dressed in telogreika [a simple bulky overcoat] and ragged foot-wear, women wearing headscarves - such a contrast with the images of French, Belgian, Dutch, Norwegian and even Polish people. Very often and with obvious satisfaction pictures depicted impassable Russian roads: mud up to the wheel axels and on the soldier’s boots up to their knees. They flaunted images of the Russian winter showing their soldiers playing snowballs or football, or taking a snow bath. Also depicted was a panorama of Leningrad (they called it Petersburg) taken through binoculars with a caption proclaiming its imminent capture. The horrors of starvation in Leningrad were vividly presented in order to demonstrate how close the city was to surrender. In the summer of 1942 the main thorn in their side was Sevastopol, which, despite everything, continued to hold out. Can you image - Feodosia, Kerch, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar in the German’s hands - but Sevastopol fights on. The people of Odessa knew that their fathers and sons were there somewhere in Sevastopol. [The Soviet troops from Odessa were evacuated to Sevastopol in October 1941]. They were holding Sevastopol as they previously held Odessa. But sad news came in the August when Sevastopol fell… The barges with Soviet POWs started arriving in Odessa. Once I witnessed the passage of a column of our sailors under Rumanian escort. It was already chilly as the autumn kicked in, but some of them were only wearing telniaghka [cotton blouse http://tricotaj.startex.ru/Img/big210.jpg ] and were barefoot. Some had bandages on their heads and hands. A pitiful sight. People who were accidental witnesses to it threw them bread and everything that was immediately to hand (it was near the city’s market – “Privoz”). It seems the POWs were taken to a camp located near the road to Mostdorf at the rope factory. Actually it has to be said of people of Odessa: if they saw POWs, which was frequently, being moved around in work gangs with Rumanian escorts, they engaged in various means to help them with provisions. I myself once had an opportunity to buy them bread and vegetables in the Privoz market in the city. It happened like this: 2-3 trucks with 3-5 people in them drove into the market and stopped in the crowded square. These were some of the camp’s POWs with their escort. People understood right away what was going on and helped as best they could. Bread and Salo [smoked or salted pork fat] and other products were thrown onto the trucks. The guards were indifferent, only concerned that the POWs should not escape. The women were especially generous. With tears in their eyes they did sacred work – saving their brothers, fathers, and husbands from starvation.

In the autumn of 1942 Germans, with they Italian and Rumanian satellites approached Stalingrad. Their armies seized Armavir, Piatigorsk and Nalchik. Their elite mountain troops reached the Caucasus passes and erected the fascist’s swastika on the top of the mountain Elbrus. The upper reaches of the Don and the cities of Voronezh, and Kharkov were under the heel of occupants. The people of blockaded Leningrad were suffering from terrible hunger. The ancient Russian lands of Pskov and Novgorod were in the fascist’s hands. Moscow still stood. The front line ran from Kaluga to Viazma to Gzhatsk. It was close to Moscow and threatening. Seemingly only a miracle could help! But a new Russain winter was coming – our historical ally. Germans, Italians, Rumanians, Spaniards and Hungarians were waiting for it in fear. They had already had the opportunity to experience it in 41-42, though their front position was not bad. Everyday their newspapers listed the tonnage of sunk American and British ships.
There were severe fighting going on in Stalingrad…
But then the attitude of the press radically changed… There were more articles describing troublesome overstretched supply routes, bad roads, and problems with communication lines. Frost descended and the 300,000 strong army led by Paulus was surrounded in Stalingrad. Of course without access to objective information it was difficult to comprehend the futility of their situation, but several soldiers [Rumanian soldiers] that came to “Chervony hutor” [a farm where my grandfather was working at the time and where a small Rumanian regiment was also stationed] told to their “colleagues” how they scarpered through the snowy steppes leaving heavy equipment and weapons behind. These rumours gave us hope and raised our spirits.
Even more, we rejoiced at the three-day long period of mourning for the defeated and captured Sixth Army in Stalingrad.

All through the winter of 42-43 the Germans suffered defeat after defeat at the front. They covered them up with statements about the necessity of shortening the front line - so called elastic defence. But they hoped to engage in a new offensive by the spring of 1943 and restore their gains. Yet it was more and more evident to me that the victory of Fascism had become a historical absurdity and simply not possible. Especially after the way in which Fascism had manifested itself in Russia - after so many innocent victims and so much human suffering. It also became clear that mankind and the Motherland could only be saved through conflict. Germans nervously grasped at any opportunity to increase their power. The traitor General Vlasov organised so called RLA (Russian Liberation Army), which was host to many traitors, cowards and other renegades. But it was all too late. Many millions of people had personally experienced the reality of Fascism – not how it was presented theoretically by the political classes but in practice.

The summer of 1943 had already begun but there was a gloomy calmness at the front. For the Germans this was an unusual situation. They did not hide the fact that a new strike was in preparation. But where? On 5th June 1943 German newspapers reported a new offensive near Belgorod and Kursk and that it was progressing as planned despite the ferocious resistance of the Soviet Army. One week later and the press had turned 180 degrees. They are again in elastic defence. But we already knew what it meant. Liberation of our land had begun en-mass.

7th October – Kiev is liberated. Fighting near Kremenchug and Kirovorgad. Rostov and Taganrog are liberated! The Donbas is liberated. But the Germans stubbornly hold the Don River near Dnepropetrovsk and Nikopol. I and my friends got hold of an old school geography map and every day after work we marked with dots the liberated towns and drew the probable front line. Once I found a partisan leaflet in a field near Mosdorf that contained front line information for November 1943 issued from the Soviet Central Information Bureau. Based on the leaflet we corrected our map.

In December I was chosen together with some other workers on our farm and other nearby villages for work on the ”airfield”, our new officially designated work being 3km away in the direction of the village of “Krivaya balka”. Soon we understood that it was a dummy airfield being built, i.e. its surface did not allow airplanes to land. It was only equipped with the electrical light signals for decoy to attract bombers away from the main airfield. There were about 15 of us and we had to dig a shallow trench for the electrical cable. We were supervised by 5 Germans from the organisation “Orgtodt”. Later we found that they were Austrians from Vienna. Unlike other Germans they were not harsh to us, they treated us well and hated Hitler. One of them once asked me to help him to sell some clothes that he had brought from Vienna. There were 3 shirts, 2 pullovers, 2 pairs of wool gloves and 2 saws, that had obviously come from the German army supplies. On Saturday he and I took tramway and went to the city’s market. We got out at Chumka station and he took me to the barracks where they lived. There was a radio on the table. What a wonderful opportunity! For the first time in 2 years since the war started I could touch a radio. Willy and two others did not have anything against me tuning to the Moscow frequency. I listened to the latest news. What a joy to hear voice of Levitan [the main news announcer on the Moscow radio] communicating the war news. I will never forget that radio news broadcast.



see part 2 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=122770#post122770)

Egorka
04-15-2008, 03:35 AM
- 2 -
We learned of the Soviet offensive at Leningrad and about which towns were liberated. There was even a report from the front line – a hearty welcome to our soldiers from liberated people. There were sounds of artillery thunder and machine guns in the background. It was so great and unusual to hear, that it felt like I had been liberated myself! I was glowing with joy. But the enemy was right in front of me. Wearing the German uniform. I was being incautious, but it came out well. It seems I was lucky this time too. The Austrians – simple working fellows were not Hitler fanatics. They jokingly asked me what I had heard. I explained them as well as I could using the common military slang, language that was a mix of Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and German. I managed to successfully fulfil their request and they were happy for the earned cash, and I got some money too. I kept as profit for my self one sporty looking shirt with two front pockets. The saws were purchased by Semen Vikentievich [the father of my grandfather’s girlfriend], but of greatest significance was that I got access to a radio. Next time I visited them I brought them a six-litre tin of sunflower oil which I bought in the market square using the Marks that I got from the sale. It was common practise for Germans to send home packages of vegetable oil and smoked pork fat. It seems their Fatherland was reasonably famished! I visited them when they asked me for something and used their radio as much as I could. Though soon this became impossible – I was caught by their officer – a German from Hamburg. The Austrians seemed to get a scolding and were probably reprimanded. Anyway they remain as good lads in my memory. Because of my sporty clothes with really broad trousers they jokingly called me “Frenchy”. This nickname stuck with me until the end of my time at Chervony Hutor farm. When Willy said it, it was particularly funny: “Hey, “Frenchy”, kom zu mi!” and so on. Jumping ahead a bit in time I want to say that we were dismissed after the New Year without finishing the work on the dummy airfield.
In the February – March 1944 single aircraft with red stars on them appeared more and more often. They were furiously attacked by the German AA batteries. They were IL-2 or Pe-2 planes and their purpose was reconnaissance. They approached most of the time from the sea and never bombed either the main or the dummy airfields. There were rumours that some attacks were carried on the German and Rumanian ships in the Black Sea and in the Odessa seaport but that they had met with little success. Odessa’s residents know of a case when a Soviet plane was shot down over the seaport and the pilot parachuted in the water. He was picked by a German speedboat but was already dead. This incident is remembered because the Rumanian administration arranged his funeral, openly, with a funeral procession to the graveyard. The local newspapers “Odesskaya gazeta” and “Molva” wrote about it. We understood the message: “Look, Russians, how fair we are. We respect even the enemy fallen in battle.”

Working on the farm, which was located next to the Odessa airfield, I was witness to numerous air crashes of German, Rumanian and even Italian military airplanes.
Once I was a witness to a rare incident: a midair collision of two airplanes on opposing courses. A German, a bomber Heinkel-111, was taking off while a Ju-52 was about to land. A huge fireball appeared in the sky in front of my eyes...
I also saw how well the newest German air giant, the Me-323, could burn. It was a six-engined super airplane that could lift up to 200 troops. When it took off it looked like it was hovering above the ground and the engine thunder shock everything around. It appeared at the beginning of 1944 and it was a real eye-catcher. And such a "handsome" once crashed at take off burying under its wreckage more than 200 Rumanian troops that were to be relocated to Crimea for resistance to the advance of the Soviet Army.

Once in the fall during a dense fog an Italian two-engine “Fiat” transport crashed. It hit the trees in the territory of our farm. It broke apart before bursting into flames. Later we found various goods it was carrying to Odessa. It was mainly twelve-calibre hunting rifle cartridges filled with №3 lead pellets in flashy boxes and cardboard shells. We collected them by the hundreds. Why they needed hunting cartridges we never knew. Maybe they were planning to hunt pheasants in Caucasus. I also then found a good piece of beaver fur from a pilot’s jacket. Olga made herself a winter hat out of it.

In the summer of 1942 a German three-engine transport Ju-52 made an emergency landing on our field behind the threshing machines. The plane looked unusual. It had a huge “ring” around the wings. It was meant to search for submerged submarines or anchor mines. It operated on the same principal as a hand held mine detector – induction. Everyone who worked in the field gathered to watch that wonder of German technology. Then, in order to disperse the crowd on the ground, the German pilot fired a long burst from his machinegun into the air. Only then did we understand what he wanted.

In the meantime the front line approached closer and closer to Odessa. I celebrated the New Year [1944] with the Golen family [the family of my grandfather’s girlfriend]. There was a modest dinner. The old ones went to sleep in the small room. Me and Olga sat on the big couch chatting and imagining what the New Year might bring, recalling the past. From behind the wall, in the neighbour’s apartment, we could hear voices. They were of older lads working in the city. Apart from their voices we could distinctly hear voices of Czechoslovaks from the Czech division in the German’s service. They had recently arrived in Odessa and there was a rumour that many of their soldiers and officers had deserted to the Red Army. The Germans did not trust them anymore and kept them away from the front line. It was apparent that the young company had gathered to celebrate New Year 1944. A gramophone played and there was more and more noise coming from behind the wall after the first wine glasses had been raised. At midnight there were rifle shots and the sky was light by signal flares. We could hear in the neighbouring apartment a toast being raised for victory and for peace. Then they sang the song about the cruiser “Varyag”: “All on deck, comrades, all on deck, This is our last decisive battle…” And I understood that those Czechs and our guys are all good lads, our people.

see part 3 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=123117#post123117)

Chevan
04-21-2008, 04:53 AM
Excellent matter , thank you mate.
It seens you grandfather was a good writer:)

The general-traitor Vlasov organised so called RLA (Russian Liberation Army) which hosts many traitors, cowards and other renegades. But it was too late. Many millions of people personally experienced what Fascism really is – not theoretically how it was presented on the political classes but in practice.

Actually he was a traitor.The man who voluntary colloborated with NAzy ( whatever he try to speak for his justification:" battle against bolshevism, Stalin" and other bulsh..t)
The poples who lived in that time in Odessa can't be mistaken.I believe them.

Egorka
04-22-2008, 04:06 AM
- 3 -
In January - February the Rumanians started to evacuate all the valuable equipment from Odessa: machinery, lathes, trucks and tramway carriages. It was apparent that they were preparing to surrender the town. Many German servicemen and sailors appeared in the town. From March I stopped going to the Farm. In any case the only jobs they had were as watchmen or looking after the cattle. All the real jobs were taken by the full-time employees. Our team leader, Lihidchenko, was drunk all the time celebrating his son’s return. The son came back in a German uniform. Apparently as early as 1942 he had been captured and then signed up to Vlasov’s army. The father, Lihidchenko, could not look people in the eye, he was so ashamed for his son. Vera, Nadezhda, Luba and Sophia openly scolded their brother for his betrayal. He left soon afterwards, disappearing as quick as he materialised.
At the end of March 1944 a new order was issued in the city – all civil authority was to be transferred to German administration and there was to be the imposition of a curfew. It was prohibited to wander about without permission from 20:00 till 07:00. For any disobedience – execution. On leaving the town the Rumanian office gave us some good advice – all windows should be covered by shutters and doors should not be locked…
The town filled with refugees. There were locally recruited policemen from the Rostov region, Zaporozhie region, from Nikopol, Militopol and Kuban. There were many people who, from their appearance, seemed to be from the Caucasus. All the Cossack units were dressed in German uniforms with the traditional burka [lamb’s wool overcoat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burka ] and of course papaha [lamb’s wool hat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaha ]. Many had the traditional dagger attached to their belts [ http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/10/...d_81.1.599.htm ]. Odessa’s residents had already heard from previous refugees many stories that the worst cut-throats were the Cossacks from Caucasus area. They would cordon off whole areas and force everyone to flee west. All those who stayed behind would be shot without any investigation of their circumstances. These Cossacks were feared above all others. On the third station of the “Big Fountain“ there was a new three-storey school. It appeared to be stuffed with clothes collected from all over Europe after the extermination of French, Belgians, Poles, Jews, Czechs and Slovaks. These Cossack-policemen started to sell or barter the clothes. Some of the clothes had dried blood on them, some had the Star of David – the six-pointed sign that can be seen on the Israel flag today. The clothes were good and fashionable and the Cossacks and Vlasovists sold the stolen goods with little hesitation.
The Gestapo ruled the town now. Once on Preobrazhenskaya Street I witnessed how a German field gendarme escorted a convoy of German soldiers, actually they seemed to me just people dressed in German uniforms. They moved slowly, sad, tired and hungry. This made a deep impression on me. I guess they were deserters about to face a tough future. It was known that Fascists treated such people harshly. “Such beast they are – they do not even spare their own” – such I was thinking back then – “How can they then find compassion towards the Russian people”.
Quite frequently one could see on a café or a pub door the sign – “Germans Only”. This sign, which evoked burning hatred towards the occupants from Russians and Ukrainians, could also be found on the tramway carriages, in the train station waiting hall, and the toilets. The Germans had their own night cabaret “Deutsche Ecke”. Obviously entry for Russians was prohibited. It was strange that even the toilets were divided into areas. One for the honourable officers, the other for the ordinary German soldiers.
There was another unexpected meeting which I want to relate. The Rumanians gradually ran away taking with them everything that could be taken. The town was filling with German rear units and hospitals. Horse drawn caravans filled with German collaborators, policemen and such with their families kept passing through the town.
Once Olga brought home her school mate Verka Lob and her sister. They had met in the Agro technical Institute where Olga was still studying. But the current classes had been cancelled because of the Rumanian administration’s evacuation. Verka was a saucy girl in our student group and personally for me was not at all attractive. Her sister Katia, two years younger, unlike Verka was exceptionally beautiful, very slender and pleasing to the eye. Olga and I knew that Verka had lived during the occupation in the town of Kremechug. It was a surprising meeting there at the institute where Verka and Katia had gone in the hope of meeting someone they knew… We sat at a tabled and served tea. It seems that they fled Kremenchug with a German support regiment where they worked as secretaries. Their behaviour, the tone of their talk, their laughter and jokes, their German-Russian military jargon, their barrack humour – all that spoke of their decaying moral standards. They were open about their love affairs with German officers. They had no regrets whatsoever that they had fled to the West with the Germans. Katia’s speech was especially rich with German oaths and coarse language. It was so striking and contradicted so much about her attractive appearance that it was difficult to believe. “German bed warmers” – was our conclusion after they left.
Three days later there was a knock on the door. It was Verka. Big covered trucks were outside our building. Verka said that they were moving further west. Olga and I went out onto the street. In one of the cabins Katia was sitting waving at us. Destiny had given another chance to see them, our schoolmates. For the last time… Later I often recalled that meeting, trying to image what became of them after the war, if they even managed to stay alive. I would not want to be alive if I were them.

[ see part 4 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=125057#post125057) ]

Rising Sun*
04-25-2008, 09:53 AM
It appeared that it was fully stuffed with the clothes which were collected from all over the Europe after the extermination of the French, Belgians, Poles, Jews, Czechs and Slovaks.

How would he know that?

First, that the clothes came after the extermination of the owners?

Second, the countries it came from?

George Eller
04-25-2008, 01:04 PM
-

Fascinating reading Igor...you should consider publishing your grandfather's memoirs.



...Odessits had already heard from previous refugees many stories that the worst cut-throats are the the Cossacks from Caucasus area. They would cordon off whole area and force everyone to flee west. All the ones that would stay behind would be shot without any investigation of the matter. They were feared above all others. On the 3rd station of the “Big fountain“ there was a new 3 story school. It appeared that it was fully stuffed with the clothes which were collected from all over the Europe after the extermination of the French, Belgians, Poles, Jews, Czechs and Slovaks. These Cossack-policemen started to sell or barter the clothes. Some of the clothes had dry blood on them, some had David’s stars on them – six point sign, which can be seen on the Israel flag today. The clothes were good and fashionable and the Cossacks and Vlasovists were sold the stolen goods without much hesitation...

-

Egorka
04-30-2008, 07:23 AM
How would he know that?
Of course he did know. But people talk...

First, that the clothes came after the extermination of the owners?
Well there were obvious signs that the clothes came from the Jews. And my grandfather knew about their faith. In the end of 1941 several thousands of them were burned in a huge storehouse on the outskirts of Odessa. He mentioned this event twice in his memoirs. Plus many thousands of Jews were shot during the same period. People knew about it. Hence conclusion that the clothes come from liquidated people.

Second, the countries it came from?
Obviously he did not know the list of countries. He just (and others on the marked where the clothes were sold) observed that it was fashionable and likely come from abroad. Whether it came precisely from the mentioned countries doe not matter much. My guess is that he just mentioned countries citing them left to right when looking on the European map.

Egorka
04-30-2008, 07:26 AM
-Fascinating reading Igor...you should consider publishing your grandfather's memoirs.-
I hope it is interesting to others.
Publishig... that is kind of what I am doing with it by placing it here.

George Eller
04-30-2008, 01:16 PM
-Fascinating reading Igor...you should consider publishing your grandfather's memoirs.-
I hope it is interesting to others.
Publishig... that is kind of what I am doing with it by placing it here.
-

Well, I meant in book form - possibly in Russian and English language editions :)

-

Egorka
04-30-2008, 02:54 PM
-
Well, I meant in book form - possibly in Russian and English language editions :)
-
I got you alright! Just was being modest... on behalf of my granddad. :D

Stasha
05-16-2008, 09:35 AM
Its amazing matter mate.
Thank you ( although i 've watched it already).
SO does for the terrorist act in Odessa really have been executed ONLY the JEws?

No, this is not true. Soviet troops went after Polish militay and Polish reserve first. Being sent to Siberia started Feb. 10, 1940. As soon as Hitler Sept 1939 attacked from 3 directions, Stalin attacked eastern Poland. Many of the military and even citizens from the area that were Ukraine and Jewish were working with Soviets at this point. Jewish were not killed in large numbers until 1941.

Egorka
05-16-2008, 12:55 PM
No, this is not true. Soviet troops went after Polish militay and Polish reserve first. Being sent to Siberia started Feb. 10, 1940. As soon as Hitler Sept 1939 attacked from 3 directions, Stalin attacked eastern Poland. Many of the military and even citizens from the area that were Ukraine and Jewish were working with Soviets at this point. Jewish were not killed in large numbers until 1941.
We were talking about a specific incident (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showpost.php?p=122187&postcount=9).

Egorka
05-21-2008, 08:50 AM
Guys, could you, PLEASE, go and argue in an other thread?

Rising Sun*
05-21-2008, 09:23 AM
Guys, could you, PLEASE, go and argue in an other thread?

Yeah, *** off.

Egorka is going to the trouble of translating his grandfather's memoirs so we can all get an insight into his grandfather's personal experiences in extraordinary times.

Egorka deserves more respect than hijacking his thread to continue these interminable eastern European squabbles.

If you want to have that debate, start another thread. Or just continue one of the many along similar lines.

Egorka
05-21-2008, 05:32 PM
- 4 -
The last days of March 1944 were sunny and warm. The snow had vanished everywhere. The granite roadway on the “Kulikovo pole” was dry, but dusty from masses of retreating Wehrmacht trucks and the horse carriages. The city’s inhabitants lurked in their hiding places expecting something. The city market was empty and deserted.

Semen Vikentievich and Fenja Ivanovna [parents of my my grandfather’s girlfriend] had already in February slaughtered their piglet, which was previously kept in the shower room of the apartment. Now the salted meet and salo [salted or smocked pig fat] was much appreciated. Fenja Ivanovna was a good cook. I especially liked her mamaliga [ “A dish made out of yellow maize. It is better known to the rest of the world in its Italian form, polenta.” ], which replaced bread and was our main ration at that time. She had a special cast iron pot for that. Corn flour was dropped into boiling water that was being vigorously stirred with a wooden stick. Then the pot was covered with a piece of winter clothing for “stewing”. Meanwhile chopped onions with salo were fried in a pan. Mamaliga was served up on plates and was generously covered with the fried onions. It was delicious!

April 1944 was windy and rainy. Sometimes it was snowy. All sorts of wild rumours were flying about. Some claimed that our forces had liberated Nikolaev. Others suggested that the Russians had already captured the station at Razdelnoe and that the town of Tiraspol was just about to be liberated. It was believable that the RKKA had taken Nikolaev. It was logical from the military point of view. The railway station at Razdelnoe was the main railway juncture of the German and Rumanian retreat routes out of Odessa and the whole Black Sea coast area. It was too much to hope for. People felt uneasy thinking what the occupier might do to the civilians of the town. The fate of Krasnodar, Rostov, Marioupol, the small and big towns of Donbass region showed that before a siege began, all the inhabitants were forced to leave. Vlasov’s army and the military units from Caucasus and Middle Asia were made responsible for enforcing this order. It scared the inhabitants a great deal. The rumours of their brutality were widespread and terrifying. Everyone hiding, if found, would be killed on the spot; they would throw a grenade into house cellars. Nonetheless, I decided to set up a hiding place. In our house each apartment had a designated cellar space for storing firewood. In our cubicle I arranged the firewood in such a manner that there would be a hiding place between the firewood and the back wall. There was room for only one person to lie down. I also stashed some food there for 3-5 days (bread, salo and water). I practiced lying in my hole, but could not do it for more than an hour without having to move. The only way to get in was to slide in feet first and then mask the entrance with my hands. Dark, humid and silent: like a grave. Beside me was a ceramic sewage pipe laid in the cellar and giving off a stench. I decided it would be used only as the last resort, so I went to explore the building’s garret. There was a ladder on the outer wall of the building on the yard side. Luckily for me it was located just beside our kitchen window. I could just open the window and step directly from the windowsill to the metal ladder steps. The disadvantage was that the ladder was located in the yard of the neighbouring building and if any strangers saw me climbing it, it could arouse their suspicions. Despite that, one early morning I climbed the ladder for the purpose of reconnaissance. I quickly reached the roof and got into the garret through the dormer-window. It was dark and empty inside. When the daylight came in I could only see some pillars holding the roof and many chimneys. One of the dormer-windows was facing the city centre and the Kulikovo field. Through that window there was a good view over the central railway station, the last tramway station of the “Big Fountain” line and to Kanatnaya Street in the direction of the sea port. I could see that there were many fires in the city, especially in the sea port area. From time to time explosions could be heard. Then incendiaries began the annihilation of the important city establishments… For my self I decided that this place was better than laying in a humid, stinky hole in the cellar.

What was going on in the city? We all were interested to know, but everyone was afraid to go outside. My curiosity was so intense that despite Olga’s attempts to reason me, I decided to get to the city centre and sea port and find out what was happening. From a common sense point of view it was a very dangerous thing for me to do. I could attract the attention of a German patrol: a young Russian male, without a travel permit and with no apparent reason to be wandering around the city… Being detained for investigation would mean certain death… Looking back, I realise that I acted recklessly. By good fortune, my luck held; though, whenever I saw a patrol I would try to go around it. There were some pedestrians about, but only few. Old women would hurry off somewhere, often accompanying children. There were also men (probably workers) with travel permits.
Soon I reached the Richelieu monument on Primorsky Boulevard, just next to the “Potemkin Stairs”. In the port speedboats were going back and forth and there were many ships and barges. There was fire on a ship in the repair dock.

[ see part 5 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=125058#post125058) ]

Egorka
05-21-2008, 05:35 PM
- 5 -
The buildings that faced the “Potemkin Stairs” and Richelieu monument were enclosed in barbed wire and were secured by German guards. Russian and Ukrainian faces stared from all of the windows of those three-storey houses. The windows were without glass (probably blown out by the explosions in the seaport). It was said that the men had been brought on barges from Crimea and were waiting for a decision on their fate. Later I learned that many of them died at sea in locked barge holds as they were being transported to the Rumanian seaport of Constanta. Looking back, I think I could have quite easily been detained right there on the boulevard and without more ado been thrown into that temporary camp for those Russian boys! Back then I realised that I should immediately take to my heels and, God willing, avoid any patrols. It seems I was born lucky and was spared on that occasion too.
The same day the flow of fleeing truck columns and separate groups of German soldiers changed. Now they would ask how to get to the road to Ovidiopol and Akkerman. Seems it was true that the railway junction at Razdelnoe was closed for them now and they were trying to escape by the only remaining road along the coast.

In the evening Semen Vikentievich had three German soldiers billeted on him for the night. One of them, a warrant officer [Feldwebel ], asked in broken Russian for some food. He took out a bottle of schnapps, hardtack and what appeared to be a can of jam. Also a loaf of bread. Everything was laid on the table. Fenja Ivanovna put on the table rest of the borsch, and set up a tea kettle. They ate and drank alone and did not invite their hosts to the table. Later they took the apartment’s main and largest room for the night. Before bed time the warrant officer took out his Parabellum [ Luger P08 pistol ] and put under the pillow on the couch. The other two lay on the floor on the mattresses. I had to settle somehow in the small room next to an unused lathe. It was apparent that they were on the run by themselves. In the morning they asked for directions to Ovidiopol. Why? It must mean that there is no escape for them through Razdelnoe!

Throughout the night there was a great deal of truck and armoured carrier traffic in the city. It moved mainly on two roads: the “Big Fountain” road and Lystdorf Road. We heard explosions and the machinegun fire. The morning of 10th April 1944 came. It was unusually quiet, though there were occasional explosions and in some places fires continued to burn for over a week. In the grey light of an early morning I climbed to the buildings garret to see what is going on in the city. In the seaport something was repeatedly exploding and dark thick smoke climbed into the sky. I was attracted by firelight on the pillars. It came through another dormer-window. At first I thought our building was on fire. Are we burning? It might be expected because our building was marked with cross by the incendiary and demolition detachment. Everyone was afraid of it and all the tenants kept a watchful eye. But soon I realised that it was a building on the other side of the street that was burning. During the last days it was occupied by some German rear military organisation. It was apparent that they had set the building on fire after leaving it.

My attention was drawn to a motorcycle with side-car, which was approaching rapidly from the direction of railway station, crossing the Kulikovo field. As it approached I could see that there were two on the motorcycle; Germans soldiers wearing mackintoshes and helmets drove. An officer in greatcoat and service cap sat in the sidecar. He was asleep, head down. A machinegun was attached to the sidecar. I regretted that I did not have a weapon. What a perfect target! But the motorcycle turned into Kfnftnaya Street and I lost sight of it.
I sat in the garret for more than two hours. It was already daylight, but there were no people to be seen on the Kulikovo field. What had happened? Where were the Germans? I got the impression that Odessa has been left by all the rear German units and the field units were about to move in instead. They would fight to defend the city. It was nearly 09:00. The neighbouring building had already stopped burning and was just smouldering. I could not see flames anymore but the smoke still got in through the window.

I leaned out of the window in order to see better what was going in front of our house and accidentally noticed on the opposite side of the Pirogovskaya and Kanatnaya Streets three soldiers in green greatcoats. One of them had a box with antenna on his back. No big deal to realise that it was a portable radio transmitter. The other soldier held a microphone and talked to someone. All three had shoulder marks, but their heads are covered with, so known and dear to Russians, Ushankas made of artificial fur. Who were they? I wished so much that they were our Soviet soldiers. But why do they have green greatcoats like Rumanian troops? Why with shoulder marks? Well, I had heard that new uniforms for commanders had been introduced into the RKKA, including shoulder marks, but I thought it was just talk. I had never seen a Red Army soldier with shoulder marks. From some imperceptible signs, from their boots, from the way they acted on the void streets of Odessa, I intuitively sensed: Russians!

[ see part 6 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=125195#post125195) ]

Nickdfresh
05-22-2008, 06:23 AM
Guys, could you, PLEASE, go and argue in an other thread?


Yeah, *** off.

Egorka is going to the trouble of translating his grandfather's memoirs so we can all get an insight into his grandfather's personal experiences in extraordinary times.

Egorka deserves more respect than hijacking his thread to continue these interminable eastern European squabbles.

If you want to have that debate, start another thread. Or just continue one of the many along similar lines.

DONE! Responses split out into separate thread; Please do not go so off topic to the thread in question when in hostile debates. Start a separate thread!

Thank you for your assistance. Egorka is providing valuable original content to this site, respect that!

Please refer too http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6985 for all nationalistic pissing matches regarding who owns what now!

Egorka
05-22-2008, 06:45 AM
Thanks, Nick!!!

Rising Sun*
05-22-2008, 06:47 AM
Originally Posted by Rising Sun*
Yeah, *** off.

I hate to be pedantic, old sport, but there are four asterisks in **** off. :D

Nickdfresh
05-22-2008, 06:48 AM
Well, **** you too! :D I'm not a big fan of language censorship programs though. :(


Thanks, Nick!!!

No problem, just doing my job...

Rising Sun*
05-22-2008, 06:55 AM
Well, **** you too! :D

ROFLM*******AO :mrgreen:

Mate, your grasp of the language qualifies you as an Aussie. You're the fourth person to say that to me today, and the others were equally affectionate. :D

Egorka
05-23-2008, 05:22 AM
- 6 -
I rolled head over heals down the stairs into the yard. Through the fence I watched them again. All doubts disappeared. Ours! But what if this was a trap? Several women from the next house run into the street. Then more and more people come out and rush to the first Soviet soldiers. Arms and kisses, tears on their eyes. Soon several, unusually looking for us, trucks approached. These were “Studebakers”. One of them was towing a cannon. The soldiers jumped out of the vehicles. Something of a spontaneous rally occured on the spot around our liberators. The women treated the tired and dusty soldiers to meat rissoles and wine brought in a kettle. Everyone was rejoicing and the joy was unbounded. It occurred to everyone that the soldiers were either very young or old men, dressed mainly in boots with puttees over them. Some of them were wearing thin aged grey greatcoats. But the Odessits did not pay any attention to that – they saw hero-liberators before them. A captain with the Order of the Red Star on his chest answered questions. I managed to squeeze myself through and asked him where and why he was given the decoration. His answer was somewhat unexpected: “In Crimea, for the partisan activity.”
Me: “How come?”
“I was in partisan movement last year, was wounded and evacuated by plane to the “big land”, spend time in hospital” – was his answer.
Yes, it was something to think over.
Suddenly we heard several machine gun bursts from a car that sped rapidly along Kanatnaya Street from the “Big Fountain” direction… The crowd immediately dispersed from the road crossing. During the commotion the car rushed by the crossing and disappeared in the direction of the seaport. The captain gave a belated order and the soldiers quickly unhooked the cannon and set it up facing the direction where the rushing car came from. Soon whole Kulikovo field was covered with trucks and talking, smoking soldiers.

How we had waited for that day! Just that morning we had been worried by the uncertainty of the upcoming day, afraid of furious fighting in the city. And then, suddenly, the joy of freedom and the feeling of oppression lifted from our shoulders…
The fire in the neighbouring house had not picked up. Fleeing from Odessa the Germans did not want to waste gasoline. That old building had a large hall from which a big marble staircase led up to the second floor. That is where the Germans had piled some chairs, tables, and some papers and set them alight. The furniture had burned out but the building self did not catch fire. Not far from the house, on the tramway tracks stood a German armoured personnel carrier abandoned during the night. The reason was apparent – one of the tracks had broken. Our house was chosen to be headquarters of one of the RKKA detachments. It met all the requirements for the purpose. First of all it stood on the corner, providing a good overview to the Kulikovo field and all the trucks and carts on it. Secondly it could be accessed from all four directions and it location could easily identified from a verbal description. In the evening a lieutenant brought whole platoon for lodging. They moved quickly, like they were in their own house, settled in the first room, the kitchen and even the little working room. The sergeant-major made him self comfortable on “my” couch. The soldiers – on the floor. They lay on their greatcoats and put their backpacks under their heads. The transportable machine gun and the rifles were put in the corner. Their submachine guns, PPSh, were next to them. While they washed themselves and their clothes, Fenja Ivanovna cooked up a big pot of borsch soup and corn-mamaliga. A large bottle of grape wine was produced. A few soldiers were sent off by the sergeant-major to some task (I think they had to guard Kulikovo field).

Just as we sat at the dining table a patrol brought in three detained German soldiers. The dining stopped, but the table was served and the plates are waiting. The Germans, one of them was a corporal, had already overcome the first moment of fear. They stood silently with heads down. One of them had a nervous tremor. It was very apparent when they all were sat at the served table. His trembling was so severe that whenever his legs or hands touched the table we could hear the clatter of crockery. But he could not help himself. Even the corporal passed some rude remark about it. It was Fenja Ivanonvna who by the right of the hostess suggested inviting the Germans to the table. The sergeant-major had no objection. And so the enemy, so recently involved in the fighting, sat at the same table. After emptying glasses with red wine (the Germans were not offered wine) they engaged the borsch, food and at the same time interrogation of the prisoners. Or rather to say questioning. The trembling German was the youngest, maybe 18 years old or so. From his words, which I and Olga translated, it transpired that he was serving as a medic and was relocated to the front two months earlier. Two others looked older, but not more than 40 years of age. The corporal was tall, slender and neat. Even in captivity in front of our solders he looked like clean, neat intellectual. Both of them were drivers and served in a truck regiment [автобат = truck battalion]. Gradually the prisoners calmed down and the sergeant-major ordered two soldiers to escort them to the POW assembly point of the division…

Only now could we sit at the table with the sergeant-major and two other soldiers. We filled our glasses with wine and expressed our gratitude to our liberators.
Unwillingly we started talking about the Russian soul in connection to the fact that the Germans were undeservedly allowed at the table instead of being starved or killed by the raging mob. The sergeant-major first took me for the host’s son, but he was pleased when he found that I was from Siberia and learned that my parents live in the Kurgan region. He called me his “fellow countryman”, though he himself was from Petropavlovsk. But I could see on their faces that they were wondering how come I was not in the army, but instead lived with a young girl, while they shed their blood and through the bitter cold and mud had to carry their burden. “Why?” – could I read it in their eyes. I understood immediately and without a word showed them my “hammer and sickle” passport and the “discharge from the military duty”, which was issued to me in 1938 by the Military Recruitment Centre in my home town of Petuhovo. This convinced them but they assured me that nowadays I would be found to be in a suitable medical condition for active service.

The sergeant-major gave me a postcard on which I wrote to my parents my first message from the liberated Odessa. It was 10th April 1944. I wanted to let my mama and papa to know that I was well and in good health and hoped to see them soon. The sergeant-major took the postcard and said he would send it via his field post. I am grateful to him. He did not deceive me. That postcard actually reached my parents. My mother could not believe her luck, that I was alive and well… That is how she later described the day that she marked in the calendar – 10th April 1944.

My mother told me that she often saw me in her dreams; 1941, 1942, 1943, especially in winter time, knocking on the window of their little house on the Soviet street. Sometimes she saw me as a distant pedestrian, barely walking and dressed, for some reason, in raincoat with hood over my head.
“In those minutes I prayed to God he would save you,” she said. And God granted her wish.

Now after all those years I regret I did not write down the names of the soldiers who have every right to be called my liberators. I still remember them to this day…

[ see part 7 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=125623#post125623) ]

Egorka
05-27-2008, 04:40 AM
- 7 -
“My dear Odessa faded into the fog…”
The next day, 11th April 1944, my life turned around. The sergeant-major brought a stack of Moscow newspapers early in the morning. They told of the successful Soviet offensive in the Crimea, about liberation of Odessa and many other settlements in the Odessa region. I eagerly read “Pravda”, “Red Star”, and other papers. I read about the orders of the supreme commander I.V.Stalin about the awarding of honour names to the regiments, divisions and armies, about the artillery salute salvos in honour of liberation of the cities, and of many other things. I read everything from the first word to the very last. For almost three years I did not have a Soviet newspaper in my hands, it seems I missed them.

The day started with information that some Germans had been shot in the yard of the house located close to the Agrarian Institute. Some teenagers 15-16 year of age, armed with rifles left behind by fleeing Germans and Rumanians, sought out the Germans hiding in garrets and cellars and took the reprisal into their own hands. Seven corpses of Germans executed in this manner were discovered, but their executioners were never found. I was thinking that “our” Germans were lucky to fall in to the hands of such guys (the RKKA soldiers lodging in the apartment). It was not without reason that one German had been trembling… he was lucky.

I was impatient to see the centre of the city. So, right after lunch, I rushed there. The first thing that caught my eye was that the soldiers exchanged wristwatches. It was done by inviting other soldiers by just saying: “Lets barter without a peek”. Apparently there was a captured truck with a case in it full of wristwatches. They had labels with the “Fritz’s” names on them. I do not know for sure, but I think they were collected to be returned to the families or perhaps to be repaired. The fact is that the watches were used, not new. A soldier standing in back of the truck was giving them left and right to everyone who would reach out. I got one that was not working…

Even from a distance it was apparent that the central railway station had been damaged by explosions. All the windows were knocked out; the left wing of the building was completely in ruins. In the yard in front of the station there was some kind of commotion. Several soldiers were arranging something resembling a gallows. Could it really be for an execution? The gallows were ready with a noose made of telephone cable. Only now I noticed an open truck parked next to the station. In it there were two soldiers armed with submachine guns watching over a sitting Rumanian soldier. Only his head in a Rumanian uniform cap was visible to me. Then the truck drove under the gallows. The sides of the trucks body were opened and the Rumanian soldier made to stand up… An officer announced an order which among other stated: “For marauding and rape of Soviet women”. The noose was fastened around his neck and the truck drove forward… Later while returning from the city I again approached the still hanging corps. Somebody had already taken the boots from his feet. His head leaned to the side, green snot hanging from his nose… It was a disgusting scene to look at.

I walked to the centre along the Pushkinskaya Street. A column of German and Rumanian prisoners of war was being escorted in the other direction. Many of the city’s inhabitants watched this escort and rightfully reviled them… Some individuals even managed to kick them or hit them with a stick, though the escort did not allow reprisals.

When I reached “Primorsky Boulevard” I was astonished by the devastation. The big refrigerator building was demolished. The grain elevator was destroyed and emitting smoke from the burning grain. The hoisting cranes and the piers were blown up too. Right there I noticed a group of generals surveyed the seaport from the height of the boulevard and were chatting about something. I could hear the words of regret that it was not possible to save the grain in the grain elevator… It was in such great need in the country…

But on the other hand the building of the famous Odessa Opera House survived, even though it was said to be mined and prepared for demolition. It was saved by some underground resistance people who had managed to remove the detonators in time. Many streets had all of the telephone cable wells blown up. The sewerage and water wells suffered the same fate. Some large administrative buildings were burned out… But as a whole, Odessa remained just as when it was abandoned by the Red Army in 1941. The weather was wonderful and sunny and all the citizens were roaming the streets.

The next day the orders of the city’s commandant were hung on the street: “All males aged 18 to 55 are to report to the military registration and enlistment office in their district, having with them an extra set of clothes, a spoon, a mug and five days provisions.” My military registration and enlistment office for the Kaganovich district was very close to our house. Just a short walk across “Kulikovo field”. It was located in our institute building, the address was 13 Chizhikova Street. That used to be our map and plan drawing workshop as well storage for the geodesic instruments. Now it was occupied by the military registration and enlistment office. Me and Olga decided to go there and first just take a look around. The public garden next to the building was already full of people. There were not only men present, but even more women and children. They saw off to the war their fathers, husbands and sons… Tears and laughter – everything mixed. But in general it was a sad occasion for every family, for every man. Every two or three hours, a 200-250 man strong columns of “new conscripts” led by a few sergeants would march away. They allegedly were going to Berezovka located 50-60km north of Odessa. A reserve regiment of the Third Ukrainian Front was stationed there. The medical exam and other check were also conducted there.

I put everything required into my back sack and said goodbye to Semen Vikentievich and Fenja Ivanovna and to the house warden. Me and Olga went to the office. We spent half a day waiting for our turn. We talked about many things, but did not touch on the subject of our personal affairs. And then I entered the military office. On the second floor, where we previously had a dressing room, the office officials were sitting behind desks. After my introduction they wrote down my full name, date and place of birth and so on. They took my documents and, barely opening them, threw them on a pile of similar passports and the military registration cards in the corner of the room. I was astonished at that. I had spent so much effort preserving and keeping all my documents intact during the occupation, since only my documents could protect me from some of the life’s problems, which were more than enough in war time. A doctor in a white coat asked me if I had any health problems. I told him about my physical shortcomings, which were the reason for me being free for military duty before the war. He examined my leg and asked me to squat several times. “Fit for non-frontline service” – was his conclusion. Then I had to wait for some time until there could be assembled a group of 200 new recruits. Outside once again we quickly assumed a formation. Olga and I kissed each other and the command “Forward!” was given and our disorderly ranks silently moved across the city towards the Peresip district. Our first stop was on the road along side the Hadzhibey Estuary. Among us were people of different ages and health conditions. Our column occasionally stretched out too far and the sergeants would issue reprimands, to put it politely, to the ones at the end. Unlike some among us, I was not afraid of the military service …

When our column reached its highest point I could see the plains stretching ahead to the horizon. And behind us, still in sight, was sweet Odessa, so dear to me. Farwell, dear city!

The sun was already about to set when we reached a big settlement and halted on its outskirts. White huts of daub and wattle (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%98%D0%B7%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B6%D0%B5%D 0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5:Khata_by_Repin.jpg) were abandoned. It was not clear if the inhabitants had been deported by the Germans or whether it had been a German settlement whose occupants had fled to the West. In half a day we had covered not more than 20km but were, nonetheless, exhausted. Our officers instructed us to use several of the huts as temporary accommodation. Others before us had already covered the clay floors with straw. It seems that the previous groups had stayed overnight here and had taken care of it. Water was drawn from a well. Some of us drank thirstily, other washed themselves, but mostly people just fell on the heaps of straw and snatched a mouthful of whatever they had to eat. Each hut had to come up with an orderly for guard duty. That is how the first night passed. The next morning when it was barely light we heard the command: “Assume formation!” Roll call was conducted and soon our column moved again. Around noon we reached a wide macadam road. The sides of the road were covered with carts, boxes, burnt-out German cars and, sometimes, armoured personal carriers and, even, tanks. The whole road and roadsides surface was eroded by ruts left by heavy trucks. It was evident that Germans had used this road to flee and had abandoned behind everything that was slowing them down. A long halt was ordered for the lunch break. Studebaker trucks infrequently drove by in both directions. The army headquarters, located we had heard in Berezovka, were 15km away, i.e. not more than 3 hours marching.

[ see part 8 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=125867#post125867) ]

Egorka
05-29-2008, 03:47 AM
- 8 -
One of the passing “Willis” suddenly stopped. A major with golden shoulder marks jumped out of it and asked for our sergeant major. We could not hear them talking, but soon we were informed that the reserve regiment had been relocated from Berezovka closer to the front line and now we had to march this road to a settlement called Fensterovo.

We reached Fensterovo at about 17:00. We were all very tired and nervous. Many could barely move their legs, some were limping due to blisters. Fensterovo was a small farm located away from the main road and by the side of a large glen. It was actually an abandoned cattle farm consisting of several barns. We were formed up by our squads, roll call was conducted in front of several officers, were presented to the sergeants and officers who would, at least temporally, be our commanders. Then we were shown where we should stay until dinner. Most of all we were cheered that a dinner awaited us. We were still as naive as all children are. But the experienced and time-served “recruits” took these words lightly. They gave a look at the kitchen and said right away that the dinner would consist only of boiling water. Every squad sent a few men to help in the kitchen. I was among them. The “caboose” constituted a ravine slope with approximately 15 metal barrels previously used for petrol or kerosene each with one of the ends taken out. Some holes had been made in the ravine slope that allowed them to function as small furnaces. The barrels with water or broth were placed above them. Because there was a continuous stream of new arrivals at the reserve regiment, no one knew how many people needed to be fed on a particular day. The new arrivals were ordered to draw water from the bottom of the ravine and fill the barrels. Others were directed to collect firewood (which in practice meant pillaging a wooden fence and a shed). When the work was done and the water came to boil, the cook drew 3 full buckets from another barrel, which had something boiling there under his supervision, and emptied them into a barrel of boiling water. That was our evening hot meal. Rumour had it that the next morning a whole carcass (a cow or a horse) was delivered and was finished in just one day by many thousands of people of the reserve regiment. We also got German canned vegetables - war trophy, and one sixth of a loaf of bread. You can imagine what kind of dining it was! There was no smell of the “morning meat” in the mess-tin and the trophy cans had neither fat nor meat. But people were happy to have what they got, especially because they still had some provision from home (I was one of them). But there were also some who did not have anything.

We spent the night under an open sky. All the barns were occupied by other people. People not only arrived almost every hour, but they also left at the same pace. Sometimes people marched away; sometimes columns of 15-20 trucks would drive them away. The next day we were put through the recruiting commission and the medical exam and were sorted accordingly. As a result I was assigned to the company of “fit only for non-combat duty”. Everyone in that company either had some physical shortcoming or was old man of 55 or more. All of my new acquaintances from the last two days ended up in other companies. All fit for combat duty, they did not hang around there for long, except some people with military specialities, and were sent as reinforcement to the front line divisions. All the ones possessing a military speciality – truck driving, medicine, tank driving, artillery, sappers, pilots, military-engineers etc. – were assembled into dedicated units and were the reserve of the corresponding arm of service. The rest – to the infantry. I spent about five days in that reserve regiment until I was “taken by a buyer”. It happened like this: the commander of our “non-combatants” company would, upon arrival of a senior officer, order us to line up in single file. And the “officer buyer” would go along the line asking everyone what his ailment was and about his health problems. But we were never told beforehand whether the officer was seeking people for the front or for the rear areas. The “officer buyer” made his own decision as to whether or not he should he take a particular person. There were rumours among us that some groups were being sent for labour in the rear: in the mines and woodcutting industries, in the reconstruction of the factories in the liberated occupied territories. All were afraid to be drafted to the labour force, especially to the Ural and Siberian regions. For some reason I was not worried about that. But the more experienced said that it is better to be send towards front line than to the rear to die of starvation.

Finally it was my turn. We were lined up one morning and an aged, slender lieutenant-colonel, accompanied by three lieutenants, was walking along our formation. Going from the head of the formation he asked people about their ailments and ordered many of them to make five steps forward and take place in a new line. He asked me the same and ordered me to take the five steps. No one knew what it was for and where this group was to be sent. The new line consisted mainly of young people who had no problems with their limbs. In this manner I became a member of a new group of 120 people. The order was issued: “After lunch assume marching formation with all personal belongings”.

The reserve regiment in Fensterovo consisted mainly of newly recruited and they were dressed in the civilian clothes. But there were also soldiers discharged from hospitals and other units. They could easily be distinguished by their uniform. Due to the season of bad roads the rear services were lagging behind the front line and the ration and uniform deliveries were being delayed.

In squad formation our column marched again led by the lieutenants. On the first halt it was known that we are to make a 40km march. Our destination was Razdelnoe Station where we were to arrive late in the evening.

[ see part 9 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=127385#post127385) ]

If you have read that far - reply "Mooooo" :)

Egorka
06-22-2008, 03:29 PM
- 9 -
Our route followed a country road that was in a terrible condition. It was the very same road used by General Pliev’s horse-mechanised group for its rapid advance in the first days of April. It is to him that Odessa should be thankful for the avoidance of heavy urban fighting. In the deep spring mud, when no vehicles of any kind could master such roads, Don and Kuban cavalrymen undertook a daring manoeuvre and penetrated the enemy’s rear areas managing to take the railway junction at Razdelnoe straight off the march. This development cut Odessa off from the rest of the German forces and forced the enemy to abandon the city without fight.

Our column was getting loose and stretched. Our commanding officers would now and then shout orders for the ones lagging behind to hurry them up, mixing the commands with worst of Russian swearing. Everywhere on the way there were signs of heavy fighting: destroyed German military equipment, trucks, carts, horse carcases. Next to a small farm some local boys played on a crippled German tank, a “Ferdinand” [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elefant ; http://mvd.clan.su/_fr/2/1006991.jpg ], which was standing next to the road with its cannon raised up. In the next village were two new abandoned howitzers with large muzzle-breaks. Being young, we were all interested in that and climbed the tanks and turned the cannon controls no better than local village boys. I remember during one short stop noticing several abandoned German carts and I went to see what was in them. It appeared that they were loaded with horseshoes and nails. The horseshoes were of enormous size and with spikes on them and were meant for the German draft horses, which were slow and resembled elephants. Returning to the column I got a scolding from my platoon leader for absence without leave. There on the spot he explained that “wandering” about without purpose can get us into trouble – we could hit a mine field. As evening approached the railway track came to sight, though the station was not yet to be seen. On the open ground of the field around were signs of a recent tragedy that had occurred several days earlier: among the shell holes were spread out Russian back-sacks, punctured mess tins, ruptured shoes, and hats with flaps bearing red stars… The bodies of the Soviet soldiers had already been gathered and taken away, but some body parts and bloody greatcoats could still be seen. What an anguished scene. Silently we looked around trying to understand where the deadly strike had come from. It became clear when we reached the railway track. In the bushes and on the embankment were piles of German cartridges. It seems our soldiers had been ambushed.
The Odessa-Razdelnoe railway tracks had been destroyed by the retreating enemy. All the rails were damaged and all the sleepers were broken in two by some kind of device attached to a steam engine. Darkness fell but we still had not reached the junction. People were very tired and would just fall right where they were as soon the “halt for five minutes” command was shouted. How difficult it was to rise up again after the halt… legs felt filled with lead. We were hungry. The command “stand up” sounds and we keep dragging ourselves along…

We reached Razdelnoe Station late at night. In the dark we could see the heavily damaged station building and the tracks stuffed with the freight cars. Both our unit and the headquarters were scattered on the south side of the settlement around the railway junction. The settlement consisted of little clay and straw houses with adjacent barns and plots of land. We all fell right down after we arrived and fell asleep like the dead. In the morning the newly arrived were assigned to platoons and companies. The same lieutenant-colonel who had picked us previously announced that from now on we were privates in the Eighty-eighth Separate Work Battalion of the Fifth Shock Army of the Third Ukrainian Front. The lieutenant-colonel’s surname was Chernikh (Черных). He also introduced his political deputy – major Pehota (note: the name in Russian literally means ”Infantry”). We were told that from today we have to start our battle training and drill, learning the rifle, learning guard regulations and so on. The uniforms and the weapons we were told, would be distributed later on after it had been received from storage. But today would be a bath day, haircuts, medical exam and some work duties. I was assigned to the First Platoon of Second Company.
There were no more than ten seasoned soldiers in the whole company. Where were the others? Apparently they were on the way. Before Razdelnoe they were stationed somewhere near the Don, maybe in Darvenkovskoe or Kalach, and were now being moved closer to the front line. The “oldsters” explained that our main task would be loading and unloading the cargo trains; unloading munitions and loading the cars with used shell cases and other material.


[ see part 10 (http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=127872#post127872) ]

George Eller
06-23-2008, 11:47 PM
-

Mooooo :)

Very vivid and detailed account ... keep up the good work ;)

-

Egorka
06-30-2008, 05:21 AM
-
Mooooo :)
-
Ok. At least someone reads this. :)

Egorka
06-30-2008, 05:22 AM
Huge THANK YOU to Mr. Slim Fan (http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/member.php?u=9426) for editing my lousy English translation and giving it grammatic and stylistic sense!
This part has been edited by him. He also edited the previous parts which I now will replace (Done!). So you may as well re-read them again. :)



- 10 -
The celebration of 1st of May ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers%27_Day ) approached. Major Pehota, who as I mentioned was our "zampolit" ( remark: Commander's deputy for political work – not to be confused with "Commissar" ), was very busy with the preparations. Knowing that I was a student before the war he offered me the opportunity to join his orderly, Buriak, in making a newspaper poster dedicated to the celebration. Buriak was a boy aged about 14 or 15 and was regarded as our "regiment’s son" [remark: "regiment’s sons" were usually orphans picked up by the regiments on their campaigns. Hence the name "regiment’s son" indicating that a child had been adopted by the regiment]. He wore a uniform and was always "sticking his nose in everywhere", hanging around the newcomers, reading aloud from the newspapers distributed by Sovinformbureau ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Information_Bureau ). Together we began the work. I was responsible for the design and layout and Buriak for the content – for which he went around the platoons collecting material. I remember how our zampolit Pehota criticised me because a German tank with swastika drawn by me did not look as though it had been disabled. I had to redraw it more vividly. This time he was pleased. The tank was depicted with a fractured gun barrel, a huge gaping hole in the side and a broken track. Our tanks were rushing forward belching fire and smoke.

Around 26th April we again had a "bath day" and after that received new sets of cotton uniforms. We got English boots, puttees and old patched grey
greatcoats. It was apparent that the greatcoats had already seen combat, but had been cleaned before being given to us. We knew that the fallen were
buried in common graves without their greatcoats, which had to continue to serve, this time to other people.

Once in uniform we immediately became indistinguishable from one another. Our field caps fitted our shaved heads very well; though the red star badges were missing and there was no possibility of replacing them. But we found a remedy: we made stars ourselves out of tin and attached them to the field caps with thread. On the eve of 1st of May the remaining troops arrived from the Don, Rostov and Donetsk provinces. Some of them said that they had been working on windmills for the army, others worked on some army farms, but the main occupation was loading and unloading the trains.

Even though we all wore uniforms and looked alike, the odessits [remark: recruits from Odessa] still stood somewhat forward showing a special Odessa disposition. Major Pehota made me responsible for politinformations - reading aloud every day the official front reports and make regiments "battle leaflet" [remark: a kind of in-house newspaper].

After the celebration day the combat engineering forces repaired the railway tracks, and trains started coming in to Razdelnoe station. Our battalion was also involved in the loading and unloading work. In their haste to retreat, the Germans had abandoned a large number of loaded railway cars on the 70km stretch between Odessa and Razdelnoe. There were even two German armoured trains and a train loaded with tanks at Razdelnoe station.

Apart from our battalion, General Pliev's cavalry division was also stationed in Razdelnoe. But now, in the process of being transferred to another stretch of the front, they were leaving us. The frontline stabilised along the Dnestr river and Tiraspol was now adjacent to it. That frontline was not far from us, maybe 12 - 15 km, and we could clearly hear the artillery at work.

In May the battalion's headquarters were relocated to the German village of Baden ( remark: there were more than a million German colonists living in the USSR ) on the coast of Dnestr estuary. The inhabitants had left. Probably they fled west together with the German army. There was a station by the name of Kuchurgan about 2km from Baden. Our First Platoon from Second Company was stationed there in an open field guarding a store of chemicals in an abandoned German ammunition dump. It was encircled by barbed wire. Our battalion staff officers were short of writing paper for their work and the only place to get more was Odessa. So they began looking for two people from Odessa willing to procure more paper. Naturally, this operation was not budgeted for and the procurement required promtness and a certain native wit. Since I myself needed paper for my "battle leaflet" I agreed to go on the business trip. I was delighted with the opportunity to return to Odessa, to meet Olga and her parents, and to catch up on their news. I had agreed to go, but I really had no idea where I would find writing paper and how it would be paid for.


[ to be continued ]

Major Walter Schmidt
07-05-2008, 10:01 AM
read it all!
very very very exciting! It would be cool if someone made a comic out of it.
shame your grandfather died in 2002.

[ to be continued ]
please do so:D

Egorka
07-07-2008, 03:32 PM
- 11 -

Our squad commander was from Krasnoyarsk. He had lost toes on his right foot near Stalingrad and as the result of his service had reached the rank of senior sergeant. His name was Kostja (remark: short for Konstantin). Unfortunately, I can’t remember his surname. We became good friends – true comrades in arms. Sending me to Odessa he gave me his greatcoat, which was brand new and had tabs and the shoulder bands of a senior sergeant. The greatcoat was for show – I was to meet my girlfriend in the town… The shoulder bands were to be changed according to the situation. Now, after so many years, I understand how risky it would have been if I had run into a military patrol.

I went to the nearest crossing close to Kuchurgan station and sat on the Odessa-Tiraspol road to wait for a car going to Odessa. There the road was of a better standard. On the roadside a Soviet tank, American made, which was hit in the first days of April, still stood. I guess it was a “Valentine” or a “Katrine”. (remark: It seems my granddad was not sure about the name). I climbed onto it and the first passing Studebaker stopped at my signal. The driver thought I was a tanker and let me sit in the cabin. In three hours I was in Odessa, in the Moldavanka district.

When I reached Kulikovo Square I put on the senior sergeants shoulder bands. But then I thought that I would appear too young to have made senior sergeant and ripped off two of the badges of rank. I entered the house as a corporal.

My appearance on Pirogovskaya Street was unexpected. Olga was happy for my visit and tried to feed me up. But her parents were depressed. Semen Vikentievich was being summoned to the local Communist Party office. He was to report on his Party assignment – conducting resistance work during occupation. The situation was not in his favour and it could prove to have serious consequences for him.

I explained the purpose of my visit and asked for their help. I had two days at my disposal. Olga had about 300 sheets in her possession. But it was not enough. Semen Vikentievich said that with a bit of luck I might find paper at the market but it would require money, approximately 150 Roubles. I only had 70 Roubles in my pocket and Semen Vikentievich gave me the rest. The paper was purchased the next day from black market dealers, who seemed to feel free to operate again. I noticed that town was being slowly reconstructed. Some workers were fixing the walls of the ruined Central Railway Station. I stopped to look at a passenger train arriving from Moscow. A group of young women with backpacks and suitcases got off the train. They asked me where to find a street where they were to work as civil engineers. We fell into conversation. It was interesting for me to meet people from the capital. These were newly graduated specialists. I recounted my arrival at this very station in 1940. Did I think back then that my life would develop in this way? I began to wish that I could continue my studies at Odessa’s Agrarian Institute. As I stood next to the station, I suddenly realised that I was on the very spot where 40 days earlier a Rumanian marauder was hanged (the place is marked by a blue cross on the attached photograph.). People came and went from the station and nobody knew what happened here on the 11th of April 1944.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
07-11-2008, 04:24 PM
- 12 -

In the evening Olga and I went to the Beaumont cinema, near the central train station, and saw for the first time the film “Two Soldiers” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036782/ ). The main roles were played by Andreev and Bernes. The song from that movie - “Dark night... Only bullets whistle in the steppe...” ( youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDGLFLKa5o4 ) – was popular and was already being sung, with guitar accompaniment, in our battalion. Of course, we liked the movie very much and I have seen it many times since. But the first time I saw it in liberated Odessa – that was an unforgettable experience. And what about the other song from the same film – “The skiffs brim-full with gray mullet the sailor Kostja brought to port…” ( youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CebvBldszqM )? One wants to hear these songs over and over.

I made the return journey to my battalion in a railway tank-car. It just so happened that I reached the Odessa goods station by tramway late at night. It was still about 2km to the Tiraspol road. A goods train was standing in the station, which, according to the train conductor, was to go to Razdelnoe station and then via Kuchurgan to Tiraspol. It was a train delivering military equipment to the frontline. I spoke to the train driver and explained that I urgently needed to reach my unit in Kuchergan. He understood and pointed to a 50tonne tank attached behind the tender. I climbed the tank and settled behind the hatch. The weather was very warm. I took off my greatcoat and took out some food. Then the engine SO-20 emitted a low tone from its whistle and the train started rolling. Some familiar stations passed by – Dachnaya, Vigoda – and the train kept rolling without stopping. The tank I was riding was meant for transporting water. The cinder and soot from the steamers smoke gathered on me. I could not open my eyes. I was starting to look like a chimneysweep. Finally the train came to stop in front of a semaphore signal light. I had to do something to counter the smoke. The hatch was not locked and I opening it and noticed that it was possible to settle there, protected rather like being behind the armour of a tank. It was possible because the hole in the hatch had a metal grid fixed inside. Besides, a wooden plank had already been placed there, probably by a previous traveller. It was comfortable. The water was below me in the tank. And I opened the hatch much like tankers do. Just before Razdelnoe the sky suddenly lit up with searchlights, AA guns opened fire – a German air raid on the station. The train slowed down and continued slowly to Razdelnoe. Luckily there was not much damage to the place this time. In the morning I was in Kuchurgan. I washed myself and tidied myself up as much as possible. I delivered the paper to the chief of the headquarters office and returned to my platoon. The soldiers were digging a dugout for the whole platoon. The work was progressing well and in the evening we had made a huge hole in the ground. We fixed the roof and covered it with earth. For the plank beds the trophy wooden ammunition boxes were used. Cosy and cool. The next day we started the dugout meant for the kitchen. Our cook was an old Cossack from the Don, a jolly and tireless man. He could make a good meal out of the most basic ingredients. The ration was not bad, according to the frontline norm: 600 grams of bread, sugar, tea, American spam or lard. With such ingredients, no matter what you cook, it would taste good. Kulesh was especially good – a soup made of millet or pearl-barley with consistency of a thin porridge and richly seasoned with fatty American spam. In those days it was the pinnacle of every soldier’s culinary desire.

Our work during that time was not complicated – guarding the chemicals and the captured ammunition dump encircled by one layer of barbed wire. There were many guard posts and we were short of people. It meant a shift almost every day or night. Back in Razdelnoe I received a rifle as my personal weapon. It was an old slit Mosin rifle ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosin-Nagant ). Obviously, I was in no way satisfied. I wanted a PPSh submachine gun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PPSh-41 ), which I one day accidentally found in a ditch near Kuchurgan station. I still wonder how it got there. The 71-round drum magazine was empty. I took care of it, cleaned and oiled it. And to get hold of appropriate ammunition was not a problem at all: we unloaded the ammunition boxes.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
07-15-2008, 08:35 AM
- 13 -

There was a soldier from Odessa in our platoon – Chernenko. Once his wife came to visit him – she found our location after Chernenko sent her a note by means of a passing truck on its way to Odessa. We had to arrange a separate family dugout for that couple. We made a stove right under the open sky and let them use the kitchen dugout.

One of our amusements was using the captured German firing pins with detonators from the antipersonnel land mines. We pulled practical jokes on each other by mining most peculiar places: plank beds, mess tins, back sacks, benches and even toilets. They could not cause any harm because we only used the detonators which looked like brass heads with primers of a shotgun shell.
I noticed that there were wild hares in the field around us and I one day I managed to hit one with my PPSh; a big grey hare. After that the guys asked me to go hunting – it seems they did not object to having delicious game for dinner. All in all I think I bagged about eight until all of them were hunted down in the immediate vicinity.

Once in July, together with five other soldiers, I was sent to assist in the chemical readiness courses for the officers. The course involved the different chemicals being used in the war: bottles with incendiary fluids, flamethrowers, smoke grenades, means of chemical protection against poisons and so on. The exercise was conducted in the field with practical application of the aforementioned substances and devices. There I could for the first time see in action our Soviet backpack flamethrower. And I had myself chance to throw incendiary bottles against a tank mock up model as well as set up a smoke charges for setting up a smoke screen. If I am not mistaken this exercise took place in the county of Domaneevsky.

In July the whole battalion was put on alert and marched to the next station at Migaevo. Then after a sleepover we were marched back to our old location. This happened several times. It all seemed a senseless waste of our energy and indifference on the part of our senior officers. Only after the war, after reading the memoirs of the commanders of the 3rd Ukrainian front, it became clear to me why our unit as well as many others had to do that job. It was done to deceive the enemy’s land and air reconnaissance. The goal was to make it look like the troops were moving to a specific sector of the front line. Later the effort proved to be indispensable – the enemy did not expect the strike on the Kitzkansky bridgehead. For a number of reasons the enemy was convinced that this bridgehead was of no real operational value.

There was an old man from Odessa in our platoon. He suffered from poor eyesight and an ulcer. He was often sick and this was a burden for the platoon. The officers decided to send him to the Filatovskaya clinic in Odessa. I was assigned to accompany him. So I had another chance to visit Odessa, but this time we were given a car from our battalion and I only spent couple of hours with Olga.

At the end of July three companies from our battalion were relocated for an unspecified period near Migaevo Station. For the purposes of deception we were ordered to set up camp outside the settlement and start digging the fox holes and trenches. Near the station a large storage dump was arranged containing only empty boxes. Trucks and cargo trains came with those empty boxes. All of it was openly unloaded in the broad day light, under the eye of the German “frames” ( Frame – Russian nick name for the German FW 189 recognisance airplane ), which patrolled over the front line from dawn till dusk. Two ferocious night bombing raids were conducted against Razdelnoe and Karpovka. The targets were already alight because during the day the Germans had dropped incendiaries before the bombing. The whole night sky was covered with AA tracers and searchlights. For about an hour the explosions of the bombs could be heard from Razdelnoe and the fire raged the rest of the night. When we arrived the next day there was still a burning train loaded with ammunition – the explosions preventing us from starting work. We expected another raid would be mounted to disrupt the reparatory work, but God had mercy on us. We also expected that our dummy storage dump may be attacked and we organised special shelters.

[ to be continued ]

Major Walter Schmidt
07-16-2008, 12:16 AM
with those empty boxes. All of it was openly unloaded in the broad day light, under the eye of the German “frames” (Frame – Russian nick name for the German FV 189 recognisance airplane), which patrolled over the front line from dawn till dusk. Two ferocious night bombing raids were conducted against Razdelnoe and Karpovka. The targets were already alight because during the day the Germans had dropped incendiaries before the bombing. The whole night sky was covered with AA tracers and searchlights. For about an hour the explosions of the bombs could be heard from Razdelnoe and the fire raged the rest of the night. When we arrived the next day there was still a burning train loaded with ammunition – the explosions preventing us from start
you mean fw 189.

Egorka
07-16-2008, 02:23 AM
you mean fw 189.
Yes, of course!

Egorka
07-16-2008, 01:58 PM
- 14 -

During one of the company’s meeting I was voted into the Komsomol ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komsomol ). The head of our Komsomol cell was my friend Sashka Shefatov (remark: see top photo on the attached picture). I still have his photograph, which I have appended to the text. He was born and raised on the Don in a Cossack family. He lost an eye as a child and was cleared from military duty. He was called up after the Battle of Stalingrad. I tried to locate him after the war but in vain. The area of his khutor ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khutor ), Zaharovo, was flooded by a reservoir during the construction of the Volga-Don canal.

The decisions of our meetings were to be approved by political department of the 3rd Ukrainian Front. One August day I, together with three other new Komsomol members, was called to the political department office located in Berezovka.

I will never forget my conversation with the major, the Secretary of Komsomol of the 3rd Ukrainian Front. First, he asked me for a brief outline of my biography. Finding that I was stuck in Odessa during the occupation, he started questioning me:
- “You, comrade Klimov… why did not you open fire the first time you saw that there was an enemy, a Fascist, in front of you?”
- “I was not conscripted into the army. I was not armed.”
- “Does one necessarily have to be armed for that? There are thousand of other ways to fight. Why did you not take a hand grenade, a rifle or a machine gun and open fire?
“You are entering the Komsomol’s ranks, you serve in the Soviet Army. Are you ready to dedicate yourself wholly to Victory?”
- “Yes, I am ready.” - was my reply.
- “But you already had a chance to show yourself in front of an enemy and you did not take it. How can you be trusted that it will not happen again?”
- “I have understood and have had the chance to think over many things.”
He started telling me about some Komsomol activists from “Molodaya Gvardia” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Guard_%28Soviet_resistance%29 ) from Krasnodon which I knew nothing about back then. Seems as he was well informed about those resistance fighter, or maybe he was even connected to them.
- “Well, let us say that you are now admitted into the ranks of the Komsomol” – he said at the end.
( remark: On the attached picture: bottom left – Komsomol membership papers. Bottom right – Photo of Yurii Klimov taken in Rumania on the 30 Dec 1944. )

At the beginning of August we got good news – the opening of the Second Front by the Americans and English. ( remark: A little time line mix up. ) This news gave us even more confidence in the imminent defeat of the Hitlerites. Tank brigades under the cover of night began arriving at our station and hastily unloaded their material. We were pleased to see their armour and the long calibre guns. The heavy artillery and “Katyusha” rocket launchers also arrived. We were exhausted, working day and night to unload the ammunition boxes from the train cars. Everything indicated that soon our Front would see some action. In the middle of August near the station … (remark: blank space. ) companies from our battalion were involved in a land sweep intended to capture German parachutists-saboteurs allegedly dropped in our rear. There was even a description of the enemy’s radio operator. From early morning to the late night we swept the area, walking in a line 20-30 meters apart. We walked the fields, forests, and ravines. In the settlements after setting up guard on the perimeter we thoroughly searched every structure, every cellar, every garret and every barn. It was all in vain! But they must be somewhere? Later after the war, I understood that it was part of a planned deception operation - the falce direction of the intended ofensive was fed to the enemy. In order to avoid chances of him checking the real level of our troop concentration on this false direction we had to sweep the area.

On the morning 20th of August the mighty roar of the salvos came from the direction of the front line.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
07-22-2008, 03:34 PM
- 15 -

On the morning 20th of August the mighty roar of the salvos came from the direction of the front line. They came like ocean waves – one moment they would die out but only to re-emerge with new force in another place. In the beginning the cannonade could also be heard from the front stretch north of Tiraspol, near town Dubasari. But the main thrust was conducted from the bridgehead, which was cleared on the other side of Dniester in the area of Moldavian settlement Kitzkany, south of Tiraspol. General Tolbuhin’s plan succeeded – the thrust was strong and unexpected by the enemy. The tanks and motorised infantry rushed into the breach. The swift advance of the 3rd and 2nd Ukrainian fronts had begun. The result was the defeat of the German forces in the area of Kishinev and Iasi. At the end of the 23rd of August the Soviet mobile groups reached the outskirts of the Romanian capital – Bucharest. The Romanian king, Michael I, a young handsome officer of my age, overthrew the government grovelling before Hitler and asked for peace. Michael I later received from Stalin order of “Victory” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Victory) – the only Soviet diamond covered order that was given to a monarch. His service was described shortly – “for courageous act which lead to Romania’s withdrawal from the war”.

Our battalion was urgently relocated to the Tiraspol suburbs – khutor Blizhny. Tiraspol, whish was a front line town just three days ago, now was in deep rear. The civilian life begun to re-emerge. In Blizhny our unit occupied all of the buildings: one storey school was used for barracks, farmyard sheds, the previously existed Kolhoz office, and the private houses. The town’s commandant ordered all the military units residing in the town and suburbs to organise around the clock patrolling. Our squad was sent for the guarding duty in accord with the order. Tiraspol in those days was flooded with columns of Romanian and German POW captured in encirclement at Kishinev.

According to the schedule I had to take the guarding duty at the battalion’s guardhouse from the midnight to four a.m. Already before the offensive all the automatic weapons were collected in our battalion. It was in need in the first place for the soldiers who were to break through the German defence. And so my PPSh was collected too and I instead was again given an ordinary rifle with a four edged bayonet. I never had ordinary cartridges in my belt. Unloading cartridges I always got only armour piercing-incendiary, tracers or explosive ones, which bullet point market with red.

Sergeant, who the guard commander that night, led us to our posts. I got the guardhouse post as planned. The guardhouse was a small structure, either a sauna or a shed, under a two sloped roof, without windows and a small door. It was located outside of the khutor on the edge of a bush covered ravine. There were two or three soldiers from our battalion placed in the guardhouse. They got penalty for disciplinary misdemeanour. The place was dark and not illuminated. The weather was still and sultry. The “punished” were already asleep. The door was locked; the key was in the guard commander’s possession.

While I was there my mind wandered and I recalled my father and mother who I had not seen in four long years. Recently I had begun to receive letters from them on a regular basis. They were alive and healthy, both had jobs. My father had become head of studies at the newly opened pedagogical school in Petuhovo. I wished I could be there to visit them, just for a day – to see and hear everything for myself, to meet old childhood friends. My mother wrote that Tema Mikov had left for a flying school in Kurgan. He passed out at the end of 1941 and was sent to the frontline near Tula or Kaluga. He was not lucky. His IL-2 was shot down on the very first sorty. (remark: Information from the death certificate accessible on the online RKKA casualty database - “Anatoly Ivanovitch Mikov, second lieutenant of the 624 ground-attack aviation regiment, died 5th of June 1943 in crash at the airfield Volintsevo in Tula region, buried in Village Volintsevo.“) This is the sad story of my best friend. Mother also wrote that my sister, Tanja, was studying in Petropavlovsk in an institute evacuated from Moscow. I was impressed that my sister, like me, was studying land management. In 1943 the institute returned to Moscow, to the original office at 15 Kazakova Street. The institute's name was “Institute Of Land Use Planning” (http://www.guz.ru/index.phtml?lang=eng), or MIIZ for short (remark: this is the Russian acronym for the “Institute Of Land Use Planning”). I already knew of its existence; a couple of students from our group had moved there from our institute in Odessa in 1940. One of them was a girl from Moscow – Kravchiskaya. Our paths were to cross again after the war when we met at MIIZ.

My reverie was suddenly interrupted by the approach of a group of people who I could not recognise in the darkness.
- Halt! Who goes there? – I challenged.
- It is us! – came the reply, followed by the password.
I recognised the voice of our guard commander. Apart from him and two other patrol soldiers there were two men dressed in civil clothes. They were mumbling something incoherent in either the Moldavian or Rumanian language. It was clear that they were pretty drunk. The guard commander took out the key, intending to open the door and place the detainees inside with our soldiers. But those categorically objected because there was not enough room inside. Then the guard commander made a decision to leave the two detainees outside the guardhouse until the morning. The "Rumanian saboteurs”, as the guard commander called them, had been stopped by our patrol. They had tried to run and when stopped again attempted to resist the patrol by threatening them with a bayonet. They had neither a pass nor any other kind of documentation on them.

They were made to lie on some rush mats next to the guardhouse door. Leaving, the guard commander earnestly warned me that I would bear my full responsibility for the detainees. If they escaped it, would be on my head. He was convinced these really were not ordinary people and therefore ordered me to be extra careful. Saying this, he and the rest of the patrol left. It was about two o’clock in the morning.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
07-29-2008, 03:54 PM
- 16 -

My “saboteurs” started to converse quietly. Since I knew many Romanian words, I understood that they were planning to escape. It alarmed me. Holding my rifle in my hands, I walked back and fourth five meters away from where they were laying. It was dark, but the two grey figures could be distinguished on the light mats. At one point when I was in front of them, one of the men rose on his knees and said: “Tovarischul! Comrade! Eu vreu merzhi a kasa. Povtim!” – “Comrade, let us go home. Please!”
- Zhos! – I shouted at them. (Down. Do not get up.)
And I turned my rifle on him. But the one who was just talking suddenly rose up onto his feet and grabbed the bayonet with both hands… I sensed his strong hands pulling the rifle. There was no time for hesitation – I realised it immediately. Every split second would be decisive in the outcome of the duel.
- Stop! Do not move! I will fire!
I shouted, this time in Russian, and pulled the rifle back hard simultaneously jumping three – four steps backwards. Despite his two-handed grip he did not managed to keep hold of it – the Russian four edged bayonet is to thin for that ( http://1.1.1.5/bmi/world.guns.ru/rifle/mosinbayo.jpg ). Clanking the bolt forward, I armed the rifle and fired without aiming… at the attacker. Then again one shot after another, but this time above their heads. Two tracers went flying high into the night sky – this meant the alarm and a call for the guard commander. He and two other guards came very quickly. Their tramping could be heard all over the sleeping village.

At the commander’s order I gave a brief report: assault and attempted escape. He pointed his flashlight at the detained… Something was quietly squelching, like a little stream… A large bloodstain on he rush mat. His legs and lower torso were on the ground, hands wide spread to the sides… The guard commander examined the second detainee, but he was lying down without any sign of life. Both of them killed with one bullet – the thought flashed in my mind. But the patrol soldiers managed to bring him round and establish that he was alive.
The “prisoners” in the guardhouse woke up and kept asking the commander about the events outside. There were maybe 30 minutes left of my watch. I was relieved and we went to the guard quarters. I placed the rifle in the weapon pyramid ( http://www.nortfort.ru/kaur/foto_sn12.html ) and undressed preparing to sleep. But I could not close my eyes. The guard commander and other soldiers asked me again and again about the night’s events. No one had any idea who those men were or why they had come or what they were doing near our position. Very early the next morning the commander left to go to headquarters, probably to report on the incident. My troubled slumber was interrupted by the guard commander and a captain – the headquarters officer. He gave orders to place me under arrest. My belt, shoulder marks, and puttees were taken from me by the guard commander and placed in the safe box. Now the problem was where to place me for the arrest – the guardhouse was full. The solution was found in a small storeroom next to the school building. The door was closed on a latch and a guard was placed outside. The guard commander and the officers explained to me that this measure was necessary until the investigation came to a conclusion. In the afternoon an official from the public prosecutor’s office in Tiraspol arrived – a very young woman, almost a teenager. She was an investigator. Records of formal questioning were assembled as well as an inspection of the rifle. The questioning was long and many questions were asked.
I remember some of them. Apparently they seemed natural to the official but they dragged the investigation onto a false track:
- Did you know the detainees?
- Why did you apply deadly force without a warning shot?
- Why did you use a fragmentation round?
- Why did not you use your bayonet instead of shooting?
- Why were the detainees not placed inside the guardhouse?
- What did the detainees talked about?
- What are the details of the assault?

All the points were checked many times. I remember that she took a handkerchief out of her purse and wiped the bayonet trying to establish if this rifle had been fired recently. In the first day our officers found out everything about the detained men. It was all very straightforward: the two “saboteurs” were two Moldavian workers mobilized for work on the nearby airfield, old family men. The previous evening they had left their unit without permission to visit a woman on the outskirts of Tiraspol. They got very drunk and while returning to their unit were arrested by our patrol. Both were from a village close to Kishinev. The nature of their innocent prank and my actions towards them shed some doubt on the legality of my action as a guard. At that time the military prosecutor’s office had already moved on behind the front line and according to rumours was already in Kishinev.

The public prosecutor’s office that investigated my case was leaning to the conclusion that I had committed “use of excessive force in self-defence”. According to the criminal code of those days it could mean up to three years in prison. My commanders, seeing that it might end badly, decided instead to address the case to the military prosecutor of the 3rd Ukrainian Front. It is worth mentioning that there was an apparent breech of the regulations as the detainees were not placed inside a guardhouse and were ordered to be guarded in the open.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
08-07-2008, 06:17 AM
- 17 -

The result of the interrogation of the other Moldavian was not in my favour: he denied any escape attempt and any assault on a guard. The soldiers locked in the guardhouse were not considered to be direct witnesses and their testimony did not clarify the situation for the investigators. The victim’s autopsy supported my testimony: shot from a distance of four metres, bullet entered the thorax in the area of the heart and exited in fragments from the back. The bullet’s path indicated that the victim was on his feet and his torso fully turned in my direction, which corresponded to a posture during an assault…

After about four days, I was escorted to the military prosecutor’s office in Kishinev under the guard of Lieutenant Asyamochkin and two soldiers from our battalion. Unfortunately at around that time my bad leg started to hurt. The feeling was familiar to me from my childhood. A new abscess was forming on my right thigh in the area affected by the poliomyelitis. At first it doesn’t hurt and doesn’t hinder walking, but with time the pain gets sharper and after 10 – 15 days reaches the stage where the leg gets swollen and walking becomes impossible. We crossed Tiraspol, then a large village – Tarkani, then over a pontoon bridge across the Dniester. When we reached Bendery we halted for lunch. Lieutenant Asyamochkin had been in the forces since the autumn of 1941 and was from Omsk, where he had left his wife and children. Learning that I came from Petuhovo and that my parents were teachers living in Siberia, he immediately considered me to be his “fellow Siberian” [remark: Petuhovo and Omsk are actually rather far apart]. He gave me back my shoulder marks, puttees and the belt, which strictly speaking was forbidden by the regulations. Yet what else could he do to make things easier for his fellow countryman? This also made it easier for my escort – they did not have to follow some of the formalities, which otherwise they would have to observe while escorting a prisoner. Now we just appeared like four servicemen and no one would guess that this group was a prisoner under escort. In the evening we reached a big village. We procured some grape wine from the local innkeeper – Asyamochkin was a master in these matters. We had wine and food and slept on the floor in one of the rooms. Everyone was happy – to spend a few days away from base – every soldier’s dream. We all enjoyed our sudden freedom.

In Kishinev we found lodgings in a house with a big garden on the southern outskirts of the town. This was the season for pears and there were so many of them that they covered the ground under the trees. While we were having breakfast, Lieutenant Asyamochkin left with a dispatch to find the prosecutor’s office. Obviously, I was again without my belt and shoulder marks. He returned very quickly. The military prosecutor’s office had moved two days earlier and according to the rumours was now located in Izmail, or maybe in Constanta. On the way back we came across the town market. We were impressed by the abundance and cheapness of the fruits and wine. We had some grape wine and caught a “Studebaker” going in our direction – soon we were again in the vicinity of our battalion. On the way we noticed large columns of German and Rumanian POWs. They were being escorted to Tiraspol, where several POW camps were located. The railway to Kishinev was still under repair and soldiers were working day and night fixing the tracks and the bridges. It had all been blown up by the Germans during their retreat. To this day I remember and will never forget the sight that only a war can produce: the corpse of a German squashed on the asphalt, maybe by a tank column. It had been flattened to a pancake by the passing trucks. No one bothered to take him away. It was causing no hindrance to the traffic but it was a horrific sight!

My leg was hurting and I limped noticeably. Yet I was placed again into solitary confinement. I was there for two days, with time to reflect on my situation. The veterans said that I would not escape the fate of being sentence to a penal battalion. I was mentally ready for that. In the long hours of solitude I thought of my youth when my parents lived and worked in Kamishlov, then Sverdlovsk, a two-storey house made of logs and situated in a settlement almost exclusively populated by railway workers… the boys who I played “cops and robbers” with… Boria Smirnov - son of the chief train conductor for the route “Sverdlovsk – Mineral Springs”… Volka and Shurka Shipulins, who lived in the adjacent room in our house… their sister Sonya. I well remember their father dressed in the railway uniform with a uniform cap on his head and a railway badge. Their tall and almost deaf mother – she was eternally grumbling with her snuffling voice.
Vitka Nadtochiy – son of the former Austrian POW in WWI who stayed in Russia and served in the Red Army during the Civil War. We shared the same apartment with them – a communal kitchen and toilet.
I recalled the childhood pastimes: riding on the railcars. We travelled like that very often in the summertime to the station “73km”. We also sailed self-made rafts and climbed tall trees. Did it all really happen to me?

And what about me walking alone to the kindergarten? I went through the whole town alone without my parents. It was a real adventure! Many things to see on the way – everything was exciting for me! Those were good times! I went to school in 1930. Elementary school was located in front of a huge grey granite building. My father worked there – inspector of the schools for the families of workers on the Perm railway net. For the second class I went to another school – closer to our home. They were difficult and hungry times. It cheered me to remember the extra meals we got in school. Pea soup or pea mush. It was delicious! I was not enthusiastic about studying during the primary school years. Something I did not like much. Too much discipline and too little playtime.

My recollections were interrupted. A captain and Lieutenant Asyamochkin opened the door. They told me to dress quickly and to prepare myself for a journey to Tiraspol.


[ to be continued ]

navyson
09-19-2008, 10:27 PM
Do you have any more to post yet egorka?

Egorka
09-20-2008, 02:19 AM
Do you have any more to post yet egorka?yes, i do. Will continue in short time.

navyson
09-24-2008, 09:12 AM
yes, i do. Will continue in short time.
Thanks. I enjoy reading the "human interest" stories, rather than just history/historical fact books. Take care!

Egorka
10-25-2008, 07:43 AM
- 18 -

From Tiraspol we took a freight train that included a single passenger car. It took us to the end of the line which, if I am not mistaken, was the station at Artsyz. Beyond that the tracks had been damaged and not yet repaired. By a combination of walking and hitching we reached Izmail by evening. It was already dark and we could not see the town. The military commandant's office and the border guard’s office were located at the river port [the river Danube]. We spent the night on the pier and very early the next morning went to the river crossing. Apparently the military prosecutor’s office had not stayed for long in Izmail and had already moved to Rumanian town of Giurgiu, which is also located on the banks of the Danube. Izmail’s military commandant advised Lt. Asiamochkin to go there by train across Romania. My bad leg concerned me more and more, especially after long walks. We reached the Danube crossing point at about noon. It was a wonderful warm and sunny September day. We purchased a huge watermelon from the ferryman. It was time to get something to eat. The ferryman sat with us and we chatted. He was “Rusyn” [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusyns] – a local name of the Nekrasov Cossacks who fled here from Russian Tsar’s oppressions in the previous century [ Inaccurate information. The Nekrasov Cossacs moved to the Danube area after 1740, not in the 19th century. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nekrasov_Cossacks ]. His attire was quite distinctive; there was something traditionally Russian in his look. A broad, thick beard, long curly hair, and proportional facial features – it all clearly distinguished him from local Rumanian and Moldavian population. A long white robe girdled by sash highlighted his well built figure.

Here we received 5 days food ration from the military food supply depot. I remember, we were amused by the German hard tack, which we were given instead of bread. Formed as a biscuit, but not sweet; well packed. Back then we were thinking that Germans made such tasteless biscuits because of shortages. Now I know that those were just intentionally dry crusts, nothing more.

The town of Tulcha, located on the other side of the Danube, was quickly reached thanks to the quick rowing of our ferryman. Now we had crossed the border and were in another country. Here we were in the domain of the Romanian language, though there were some people who could understand a little Russian. We took a train “Constanta – Bucharest.” We shared a compartment with a Rumanian naval officer dressed in neat sparkly uniform. He fawned over us all the way trying to win our favour. But just recently had been enemies, fought against each other. And now he had to fawn over the victors…

The next day – Bucharest. We walked across the whole town to the other railway station. We looked around, gazing. We were impressed by the wide selection of consumer goods and food available. Such abundance was not familiar to us from our pre-war lives. The currency in use was the Rumanian Leu, which we did not have. Of course the prices were high, but at least one had possibility to buy what one needed. An express train, “Rapid”, delivered us to Giurgiu the next morning. Then we took ferry to the other bank of Danube where a Bulgarian town, Ruse, could be seen. The commandant told us that the front’s military prosecutor’s office had moved to the Bulgarian town of Dolna Oryahovitsa. Train again. In the evening we reached the town of our destination. In Ruse we were impressed by touching Bulgarian affability and our ability to communicate without an interpreter. We noticed their newspapers, signboards and greeting banners. All was similar to Russian and rather understandable. The whole of Bulgaria was flooded with red flags, Bulgarian flags and flowers. They were celebrating the expulsion of fascism from their land. They were very happy to see us, Russian soldiers: they treated us well and greeted us with kind words. Such welcome I saw nowhere else before. And likely will never see it again.

The next day we were received in the military prosecutor’s office. First, Lt. Asyamochkin delivered my case documents from the civil prosecutor’s office of Tiraspol and papers from my regimental headquarters. Then I was asked into the office. I was asked to report the whole matter and after answering few questions told to await in the reception.


[ to be continued ]

Egorka
10-26-2008, 03:26 PM
- 19 -

Soon Lt. Asiamochkin too came out of the office. Looking at his face I could see that he was pleased with his talk with the prosecutor. “Everything will be alright” – he told me. We were told to come back in a couple of hours to arrange the paperwork. My leg really started to hurt, I got shivers. When we came back I, in the presence of the lieutenant, was informed that I had acted correctly at the guard post and my actions had not been criminal. I was to be released from custody upon leaving the prosecutor’s office. I was happy beyond understanding! Both Lt. Asiamochkin and the other soldiers were happy too. The only thing that cast a shadow over my happiness was my poor state of health.

We took a train back to Bucharest. There we stopped for a couple of days. We stayed in barracks built by the Germans at the railway station square “Gara-de-Nord”.

Unexpectedly, I met Pavka Obogrelov while eating in the special canteen for the Soviet soldiers. Pavka was the older brother of my childhood friend in my home town. We were both happy to meet and shared our life stories, talked about relatives and friends. Obogrelov’s family moved from Petuhovo before the war and settled in the neighbourhood of the town of Batum, Azerbaijan. Pavka finished a technical school course there while his younger brother, Yurka, continued in primary school. And now this surprising reunion in the soldiers' canteen in Bucharest. After lunch I lay on my bed as my leg hurt, while Asiamochkin with soldiers went for a tour of the city. In the evening they joked about their tour and the “easy girls” they saw at the railway square.

From Bucharest our way back crossed the town of Brailu on the banks of the Danube. I do not know why we ended up there, maybe accidentally, just because the train stopped there or maybe because of Lt. Asiamochin’s lack of geographical intuition. But now in order to reach Tiraspol we had to take a boat over Danube to the town of Galati. That is about 70km upriver. We spent the whole night on the upper deck, chilled to the bone. I felt really ill. My temperature rose. In the morning going from the port to the railway station I had to use a stick as a cane. I had to hurry to reach my battalion and its medical unit where I was guarantied care and help.

Next morning we reached the khutor of Blizhniy. As always, the company’s morning muster was ordered. Overcoming my pain I took a place in the line. Lieutenant-Colonel Chernih – the battalion's commander and Major Pehota – the commander's deputy for political work announce to the battalion the order that I was to be given a citation for remarkable conduct during guard duty and the prevention of escape.
– “I serve the Soviet Union” – I answered according to the regulations.
Then I had to stay in bed for 10 days, released from all service duties.

While staying in Blizhny our unit began to prepare for a long march to the towns of Reni and Galati. The exact place that we had just came from.


[ to be continued ]

Egorka
10-31-2008, 03:40 PM
- 20 -

Liberation of Europe
In the meantime the Yasso-Kishinev strategic offensive of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian front developed swiftly. Our forces, after a forced crossing of the Danube, rushed across Rumania into Bulgaria and Hungary, and reached the Yugoslav border. The fight for liberation of Budapest had begun.

Lying on my sickbed I saw that our 88th Separate Work Battalion was preparing for relocation. Dislocation was approaching. The battalion's personnel were to make a 200km route march into Rumania. I was to move as part of one of our logistic units, the one that looked after the horses.

Just before departure the platoon leader, comrade Zhitovoz, sent me and another soldier on a two-horse carriage to Tiraspol. We were to collect some supplies from the military storage depot. The road wound along the bank of Dniester which used to be our defensive line before the war. Here and there I could see pillboxes blown up in 1941 by our forces retreating under enemy pressure.

At the supply store in Tiraspol I exchanged my ordinary rifle for a new sniper rifle. The sergeant major, who was to issue weapons to us according to the equipment list, had for a long time rejected my request to get a rifle with an optical sight. But he changed his mind after I gave him my entire personal stash of tobacco. My dream of having a sniper rifle finally came true. I had loved firearms since I was a kid, when we hunted ducks and roe deer. A good gun is essential for a hunter. Everyone bragged about the finer qualities of his gun. Competing claims were decided in shooting at a cap or a hat thrown high up into the air. We could be easily recognised by the pellet holes in our headgear.

Our battalion was lined up on the local school ground. The companies formed a square with our commander Chernih and his deputy Pehota in the centre. The order for the march and the specific details were given and our column got going.

The logistical company closed up the rear of the column. In such a manner we covered the distance in a week, passing by places such as Căuşeni, Besarabeasca, Comrat, Bolgrad and reaching the town of Reni on the banks of Danube. But soon we were ordered to relocate to Galati where we stayed next to the river port. We worked in three shifts a day loading the barges and other boats with the ammunition, provisions and other goods for the front. The stuff first had to be unloaded from the rail cars because the European rail tracks were narrower than Russian ones.

Galati is a small Rumanian town on the Danube, tidy and cosy. I remember it also because that is where I learned about the failed assassination attempt on Hitler. We regretted so much that he did not get nailed. We believed: his death - war's end.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
11-03-2008, 06:06 AM
- 21 -


The battalion command, knowing that I can speak a little Rumanian, relieved me from the loading work in the port and gave me some assignments in the town. I remember how together with the section leader sergeant Komarov (he was from Vladimir county, a secondary school teacher in the town of Kovrov) we went to a shop to buy a Soviet flag with the hammer and sickle on its silk surface. The abundance of textile goods – wool, silk, cotton – was astonishing, as was the speed with which the hucksters adapted the prices to the increased demand from the customers, i.e. the Russian army, and adapted to their customers’ tastes. That is why such Soviet flags were available. I bought a “Kubanka” – a hat that was in fashion with all cavalrymen and with anyone from the Don, Kuban or Caucasus. In Galati I took a photograph – with my sniper rifle and wearing my “Kubanka” – and sent it to my parents in Petuhovo.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3137/2988581597_0e0cdbe411_o.jpg

The abundance of consumer goods and food was simply astonishing to us. Where does it all come from during such a difficult time of war? Although the prices, in Rumanian Leu, were very high for ordinary people, everything was available.

The Soviet currency was accepted. It was accepted in all kind of transactions at the rate 100 Leu for 10 Rubbles. One week earlier in Tiraspol, milk cost 80 Rubbles and a loaf of bread 120 – 130 Rubbles. But now the prices in Soviet currency were not more than one Rubble! Obviously, everyone who possessed Rubbles immediately used them. In demand were sausages, salo, fruits, wine. Also clothes, footwear, wool and silk fabrics were purchased for the purpose of sending them home.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3002/2989437306_c18dce5d9e_o.jpg

We were stationed in Galati for a long time, about 2 months. Towards the end of this period the store shelves emptied and prices skyrocketed. While in Galati, in the first two weeks, I was assigned to arrange the delivery of freshly baked bread from the local baker. For this purpose I had to deliver to him a certain amount of flour and get the bread in return. What wonderful bread that was! Little loaves of 400g each. Our soldiers could eat them in one go! But there also occurred an “international dispute” with the bakery owner. The thing is that our flour was of poor quality, either rye or barley with admixtures. According to Soviet regulations the final weight of the batch should be 100% greater than the weight of flour used, i.e. double the flour weight. The baker argued that it was not possible and that it was robbery. He could not use our flour in production. Maybe his equipment and the technology he used did not allow for it. But authority is authority, especially a military one, and, moreover, one that ideologically subordinates private capital. Therefore he found it sensible not to argue with me and regularly delivered the correct quantity of his wonderful bread.

Another event linked to Galati stands out in my memory. One day I was called urgently to headquarters to act as interpreter. In the office an old couple with tears on their eyes were trying to explain something to the officer on guard duty. With some effort we came to understand that they were complaining about the overnight robbery of their little shop, a theft committed by Soviet soldiers. The guard commander, myself and two other soldiers went to the place of the incident. Their shop was located on the ground floor of a two-storey house at the end of a street not far from our headquarters. This area was in our unit’s patrol zone. The owners lived on the second floor, above their shop. Their shop was small and they traded exclusively in groceries and wine.

The shop had clearly been ransacked. Salt, cereals and other goods were spilled on the floor. The owners did not say much, but told us it had become difficult to keep the shop open because of the shortage of goods. “Tovarischuli” [the Rumanian for the Russian word “Tovarisch”] threatened them with guns and took 15 boxes of fruit jelly and a couple of wine boxes. From their descriptions we gathered that the soldiers were in tankers’ uniforms – overalls and tank helmets. They had been led by a young officer in a green greatcoat. That’s when I noticed a loose button with a star and with loop broken off. It seems the button (it was a plastic one) was torn off while the thieves were moving the boxes. Clearly it was work of the tankers who had been waiting for 2 days for the transportation by rail of their equipment. Our patrol had seen them in the night entering a house on our street. In short order they were delivered “fresh as a daisy” to our headquarters and placed under interrogation. The young Lieutenant-Major was missing one button from his greatcoat. Only the loop was left hanging on a thread. The three tankers were sitting hanging their head. At first they categorically denied any involvement but after they were presented with the missing button and identified by the shop owner, they confessed the crime. But we are not a prosecutor’s office. The owner was told that “the robbers” will be punished and he was sent home. The boys remorsefully begged us to let them go. They were going to the frontline, into the fighting, and what awaited them there no-one knew. It was decided to let them go but to report the incident to their troop train commander.

[ to be continued ]

Egorka
11-12-2008, 03:56 PM
- 22 -


While in Galati Sergeant Komarov, odessit Silonov [ “odessit” – resident of Odessa; www.odessitclub.org/en/ ] and I organised a lucrative transaction. We bought a case of matchboxes and a box of toilet soap. The soap was for the sergeant from the 3rd platoon. He lived in the town of Syzran where he had a wife and two children. He was veteran of the Finnish war, had been wounded. Since the beginning of the war he had not been able to get home. Oh happy day – someone was needed to escort a train loaded with used artillery cartridges to Syzran. Directly to his hometown! The soap was for him – selling it he would get money to spend while staying with his family, for presents.

The matches were taken care of by myself and Komarov. We took them to the town of Bolgrad (a small Moldavian town). There on a street market, the middlemen immediately bought the matches from us paying 9 Rubbles per matchbox while the retail price was 10 rubbles. Komarov and I got rich in a flash. Such money could make for a good life even in Rumania!

Soon after that our platoon was sent to the town of Chernavoda for work at an army supply depot. One of the sights of this little Rumanian town was the long railway bridge across Danube. Nowadays it is protected as an example of 19th century architecture. The bridge was built by the Rumanian engineer Angela Salingi in 1895 and has length of 1,595 metres. I have recently read in a newspaper that there is plan to build a new road and rail bridge there and that the old one will be preserved as monument.

The headquarters of the General Tolbukhin, the commander of the 3rd Ukrainian Front, had been located in Chernavoda prior to our arrival. Being a student I was considered to be educated and therefore was assigned as clerk to the supply depot. My task every tenth day was to compile a list of all the items present. This list was then sent to the Front’s headquarters. We were billeted in a fine villa, which we shared with some repatriated civilians who were temporally employed at Supply Depot #18916. [ remark: “Repatriated civilians” are likely to be some “OST-Arbeiter” repatriated from the liberated area. ]

* * *

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3002/2989437306_f5fa1b5c75_m.jpg
On this picture (taken in October 1944 in Chernavoda) I am standing with my section mates. In the background is the bridge across Danube. The bridge is named after a Rumanian king. It was built in 1895 and is considered to be an architectural monument.
* * *

I can’t remember the names of those I briefly worked with at Supply Depot #18916, but I have kept the photograph from that time. I took it myself with a camera that I bought in Galati from a second-hand shop. I bought a cheap “Agfa” which used wide film. My own photo camera, a “Turist”, was confiscated by a Rumanian security officer during an apartment search back in Odessa. Here is a photograph of those decent and honest companions from the supply depot head office. Right in the middle, behind the desk, is my chief. He is a bookkeeper from the town of Ufa. Next to him is the Captain, the depot manager.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3172/2989437528_cbafc8dc9b_o.jpg

On the other side, there is a civilian employee, a nice young woman from the settlement of Milerovo in the Rostov area. The photo was taken at the end of September or beginning of October 1944, just before we were relocated back to our battalion in Galati. As a reminder of those times I still have a belt that I got from a German horse saddle stored in the depot trophy section. By the way, a lot of German POWs worked there and we had lengthy discussions with them. Their defeat in the war they mainly explained by the fact that they had been outnumbered by the Russians.

Returning to Galati we found that our battalion had almost completely relocated to the Rumanian town of Timişoara. Soon we and our other soldiers who arrived back in Galati from various assignments, left for Timişoara via Bucharest. In the waiting time between trains we wandered around the Rumanian capital sightseeing. For lodgings we stayed at private apartment in the area of the “Malaksi” factory. The evening was spent in the theatre hall at a concert given by Kala-Tanase – a Rumanian celebrity, well known in artistic circles at that time. I had heard of him back in Odessa where he had been performing on tour.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3215/2989437488_3a98864d2c.jpg
Remark: 1st map with the war path marked on it.
click to enlarge (1.5Mb) (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3215/2989437488_a95366d377_o.jpg)


[ to be continued ]

navyson
11-12-2008, 06:22 PM
Whewww.....finally got caught up! I've been away and have had only short intervals online lately. Thanks for posting Egorka!



Mooooooo:D

Egorka
11-15-2008, 01:54 PM
Mooooooo:D
Beeeeeeee http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:6noRUBjm3t88EM:http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/images/sheep2.jpg

:D

Egorka
11-15-2008, 01:58 PM
- 23 -


The next day we went to the capital's western railway station where we waited for the next scheduled train. The station was roofed and reminded us of the "Kievsky vokzal" in Moscow [ remark - the railway station in Moscow for routes south, i.e. in the direction of Kiev.] Strolling along the platform, Silonov and I noticed two Rumanian girls who also seemed to be waiting for a train. They were nice and to pass the time we started up a conversation in Rumanian-Russian slang. Silonov, as I already mentioned, was from Odessa and understood the Rumanian language which he learned during the occupation. The train was delayed. We chatted with the Rumanian girls, laughed and joked, and in short - killed time. They appeared to be students from Bucharest University (that is how they presented themselves) and were on their way home to the town of Caransebeş to see their families and collect their allowances of food and money. Apparently we had to go the same way and the girls were waiting for the same train as us, but they had no tickets. They could not buy them as they had no money. The train did not arrive until after dark. The Soviet Army personnel were assigned dedicated rail carriages on the train. The civilians rushed to board the train, much like it was during the civil war in Russia or during the period of the first five-year plan when trains left from Sverdlovsk to the town of Perm. [Remark - the author refers to the fact that the number of seats was small compared to the number of travellers, and people rushed to take a seat.] Soon it was apparent that our acquaintances were left without seats, neither inside the carriage nor even on the carriage roof. They rushed about the platform attempting to find a way to cling onto the departing train. We realised that we should offer them assistance. I invited them to our soldier's carriage which was reasonably vacant - half empty. Our platoon leader was in his compartment and could not see that the carriage now had female passengers. Obviously it was breach of the regulations. It helped that the carriage was not illuminated inside and was divided into compartments. It was easy to hide the intruders. That is how Silonov and I spent the night, in the company of those pretty girls. How could we ever forget that?

In the morning, after passing through two or three long tunnels our train approached the station where the girls were to get off. On the left side of train was the Danube, on the right side - the Carpathian Mountains. We passed the famous "Devil's Gates", the place where the Danube is squeezed between mountains on both sides, streaming rapidly along a narrow riverbed. Nowadays, I heard, a hydro-electrical plant has been built and the ships have to pass through a chain of shipping locks. Oh, I forgot to mention the names of our incidental fellow travellers. They were Sylvia and Viorica. Sylvia, who I felt sympathy for during our travel, gave me on my request a photograph which I amend here.


[remark - the photograph is unfortunately missing. ]


Obviously the fact that we spent the night in the company of young girls was not completely unnoticed. The older soldiers, elders compare to us, understandingly cracked jokes. Only the platoon leader did not understand what was going on. And how could he understand anything, if he locked himself in the compartment, got blind drunk and slept whole night.

At the end of the day the train reached Timisoara station. We crossed the whole town by means of the local tramway. The local Rumanians looked curiously at us Russian soldiers and talked quietly among themselves. Naturally, our appearance was not very attractive. Old greatcoats, worn boots and puttees – that was not so bad. But the locals gazed in astonishment when one of us in the tramway carriage started to roll a cigarette out of a newspaper, so called "Kozya nozhka" [ remark - literally "Goats leg", a paper roll with cheap tobacco with one end bent upwards ]. He took out a tobacco pouch, stuffed the roll with his low grade tobacco, slavered saliva over the end to wet it, and took it in his teeth. Then he took a broken filler and a flint out of the other pocket and attempted to squeeze a spark out, trying to light up a piece of tinder. As ill luck would have it, no spark would come out of the "Russian Katyusha". Then one of the Rumanians politely offered to make use of his lighter. I watched this scene with interest. I knew their [ Remark - Rumanians ] customs and manners, knew that they were unaware of many thing, but the "Katyusha" (which I myself was impressed to see after 10 of April 1944) was watched with great curiosity. Much as one might watch an African from the "Boom-Boom" tribe getting fire by means of friction between two wooden sticks.

Timisoara is a big town. The centre is full of tall beautiful buildings, public gardens and squares with monuments to the kings. The town's hill is crowned by the Citadel - the indispensable attribute of any old European town.


[ to be continued ]

George Eller
11-15-2008, 11:37 PM
-

Thank you so much Igor, for translating and sharing these very interesting stories. Outstanding material :)

-

Egorka
11-18-2008, 12:52 PM
In case there are any questions or comments please be welcome to ask.

navyson
11-19-2008, 06:17 AM
No questions so far, just enjoying the reading, thanks!

Egorka
11-19-2008, 05:20 PM
- 24 -


We were accommodated in a hotel next to the Western Railway Station. I believe that the name of the street leading from the station to the town’s centre was “Bratiani” (A minister of foreign affairs in the Kingdom of Rumania).

It was a first-class hotel with classy interior. Of course, we were packed very tightly into the rooms and corridors and had to sleep not on the beds but on the floor. I remember that in the bathrooms we found a second toilet bowl with a small fountain. None of us had any idea about its purpose. Later, learning what it was we had plenty of laughs on this subject.

While staying in Timisoara our main work was dispatching the rail carriages destined for the frontline as well as loading the trains with the equipment previously taken out of Odessa by the retreating Rumanian Army. Among that equipment there were several boxes full of Russian rifles. I choose a spanking new semiautomatic SVT for myself. It was because my previous sniper rifle occasionally failed to fire. Back in Chernavoda, while hunting wild pigs in the Danube reed bed, I noticed that my rifle occasionally misfired. At first I blamed wet cartridges. By the way, we did not see a single wild pig as they all appeared to be hunted out, but instead we got up to fifty ducks. I found it was inconvenient to hunt duck with a sniper rifle and replaced it with an ordinary one without a scope.

One time I was sent as a senior with three wagons to collect some hay and oats as fodder for our horses. I was to go to a place called Rekasch about 25km from Timisoara. It was frosty weather but still with no snow. I had been warned to watch out for possible attack from “iron guardians” (Rumanian fascists) as those areas were remote and forestry. My “sniperka” [ Remark – authors nick name for his sniper rifle ] was resting on my lap ready for action. I was sitting on the wagon and monitoring the surroundings. When we passed a cornfield I noticed a chicken sized bird with a bright vivid tail. A pheasant! I had never seen one before except in a zoo. I aimed and pulled the trigger… but there was no shot, only a click. I aimed again – misfire again… The pheasant escaped into the cornfield. What a pity! I replaced the cartridges. Not long after I saw another pheasant. Misfire again! Damn it! Then I tried all the available cartridges but with the same sorry result. Of course the rifle could be fixed by replacing the spring, but it was too late – trust in my “snaiperka” was gone. That is how I decided to get myself an SVT.

While in Timisoari our unit was getting rations through the local Rumanian military garrison. Their liaison person was Corporal Konstantinesku who accompanied me on my wagon to the supply depot. That is how we got acquainted. Once in a while we dropped by a young single woman, an acquaintance of his, for a glass of wine or a bite to eat. He would stay overnight whereas I had to hurry back for the evening roll call.

One of my assignment as a VLKSM member still was to relay to the soldiers the daily war news reports issued by the Sovinform Bureau. For that purpose I used the radio of one of the hotel’s employees – a young boy called Eugeniu Ionescu. He was planning to go to university the following year. Every morning I came to him, or rather to his parents, tuned in to Moscow and wrote down the war news. After a month we became friends. I told them about my life in Odessa, about what I witnessed under their, Rumanian, administration. They were curious to hear that from a Russian. In their turn, they told me how Rumanian soldiers perceived Russia through their eyes.

When the time came to say farewell, I was invited to their house for a banquet. The treat consisted of “Tsvica” [ Remark – fermented plum spirit from Rumania ] which was served in a thimble size glasses. The snack – salami slices on small match sized wooden sticks. Eugeniu gave me his photograph as a souvenir.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3158/3044719780_bf54a30aeb_o.jpg
The handwriting inscription in Rumanian on the reverse of the photograph:
Tie, Jurie, ca atunci
cand te vei reantoarce
victorios in tara ta
i ti adna aminte
ca ci iu Romania
ai avut in pricten
Timisoara, 10.I.945
Jinescu Eugeniu, comuna
Rudna, Jud. Timis-Tazantal

English translation:
For you, Yurii, so that
when you come victorious
to your country,
you would remember
that also in Rumania
you had a friend.
Timisoara, 10.I.945
Jinescu Eugeniu, commune
Rudna, District Timis-Tazantal


[ to be continued ]

Egorka
12-09-2008, 03:14 PM
- 25 -


Two new staff personnel had been relocated to our company. Both were senior sergeants – both were girls. In the evenings in our private hours we often held dances to accordion music. Of course dancing was mainly for the youngsters, the older soldiers at best just watched us and listened to the music. As soon as our girl-sergeants appeared on the floor they had no end of us. I danced more with the blonde one. We danced quite well together as we somehow understood each other. Dancing continued for the whole evening until lights-out. The girls were billeted in a private apartment whose owners were a German family, or Swabs [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabia ] as the locals called them.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3193/3095627567_3a7c51073b.jpg
Once I was called by the company’s commander, Senior-Lieutenant Sokolov, and ordered to prepare for a journey as his assistant. My food supply and travel warrants had already been issued.

I took my backpack and SVT rifle and returned to my leader. He looked at me and said that I should leave the SVT behind and take a German “Schmeisser” [remark: German submachine gun MP-40] as it was lighter and handier on the road. By the next evening we were already in Hungary, in the town of Szeged. Here we were to visit the commandant’s office and get our travel warrants stamped. When the town’s commandant noticed that I had a German gun he ordered me to hand it in as a prohibition had just been issued on the use of captured weapons. That is how I lost a brand new “Schmeisser” and got instead a piece of paper to present to our armament depot. And so without a weapon I accompanied Senior-Lieutenant Sokolov until we reached the Yugoslavian town of Sombor. We took a very long and very tedious ride on a train carrying American trucks, “Studebakers”, to the front. After the Yugoslavian town of Subotica the train came under fire from a German aircraft. But it didn't cause any damage. We travelled on a wagon’s brake platform and were so frozen through so that our teeth were chattering. The commander now and then sipped from a rum bottle, which, with some foresight, he had purchased in Szeged at an exorbitant price. I also got a sip. We got into conversation – something that he did not normally do. by nature he was a rude person, especially with his subordinates. He was not particular in his choice of words. He knew about me, that I used to be a student, spent 2,5 years under occupation in Odessa and that my parents live in Siberia. After the incident with the German plane he started to tell me about himself, about the scrapes he got into during the last 4 years of war. He started in the Finish campaign. He was a native of the town of Kalinin, where his parents lived. He was not married. I knew that he was courting Katusha - a young Georgian girl-sergeant from the logistic section. I remember his description of the retreat across the sea-strait in 1942 near the town of Kerch. The only thing that saved his life was a log of wood he found on the beach. The Germans shelled and bombed the strait constantly. It was real hell. It was a miracle he survived. Many of his comrades had not managed to cross the strait – either killed or captured.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3185/3096468378_ac5e9eba5e_m.jpg
on revers: “To parents from their son. Town Galati, 1-XII-44.”

The town of Sombor (Yugoslavia) we reached the next morning. We stayed at a private house whose owner was a Russian expatriate from the Don area. I understood that they were “white emigrants” [ remark: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Emigre ], because she was complaining of the Soviet authorities about her husband being arrested as soon as the Soviet army liberated Sombor. Her husband was a Cossack officer and during the monarchy in Yugoslavia he had lectured in a Russian Cadet Corps. She kept asking what fate awaited her husband. We diplomatically replied that if during the emigration he did not work against the Soviet authorities, against the USSR, then he should come back. I asked her if she had read the Sholokhov’s novel “And Quiet Flows the Don”. No, she had not. Judging from their home’s setting they lived well: everything was neat and furnished in an urban manner, 3 or 4 rooms in a detached house with garden. She treated us like we were related, like we had known each other forever, trying to adapt to our tastes. My officer fell to drinking more and more rum or “palinka” and one night decided to sneak into her bedroom. But she had had the foresight to lock the door from the inside. That saved her. In the morning we did not know which way to look from embarrassment.

The company’s commander finished his task and we set off on the return journey. The next stop was in the Yugoslavian town of Subotica. On foot we took a sightseeing tour of the town, the central area of which has stuck in my memory.


[ to be continued ]

Egorka
01-07-2009, 06:46 AM
- 26 -


The company’s commander finished his task and we set off on the return journey. The next stop was in the Yugoslavian town of Subotica. On foot we took a sightseeing tour of the town, the central area of which has stuck in my memory. Another remarkable spot was the “People’s House”, occupied by a local squad of the Yugoslav partisans. The attitude of the Yugoslavians towards us, Soviet soldiers, was very warm and attentive – it was very moving! I came to chat with one young partisan who had a red fabric star on his service cap. He was interested in having mine since it was made of metal and he suggested that we swap them. We did it to commemorate our meeting. How glad he was to get it! In fact the Yugoslav partisans put up the most intense fight against Hitlerite Germany. Their resistance to the fascist dictatorship and aggression was truly nationwide. It was truly a people’s war and their leader was Josef Tito. No other country in Western Europe attacked by Germany offered similar actual armed resistance as the Yugoslav People’s Army. Their slogan was: “Death to Fascism – People’s Freedom!” The Yugoslav resistance forced Germany to keep some 30 – 35 divisions there in 1941- 1945. But the losses of the Yugoslav nations – Serbs, Croatians, Montenegrans – were also high. They paid with 1,7 million lives for the liberty of their motherland. In September 1944, when the Yugoslav People’s Liberation Army joined with the forces of Red Army’s 3rd Ukrainian front, they constituted strong and very well organised armed force that through its own means had liberated a remarkable part of their country.

On our way back a young handsome Soviet lieutenant got on our train. He was seen off by a large group of tipsy Yugoslavs, men and women. If I remember it correctly it was at “Kikinda” station. The lieutenant was in the company of a beautiful Yugoslavian woman dressed in a national costume. They were embracing and kissing each other. The woman had tears on her eyes. There was a crowd of their friends on the platform. One of them played an accordion. The lieutenant was given a bunch of food and a bottle of plum brandy – “Slivovitz”. When the train set off he told us his story. He had spent a long time here in Kikinda in a hospital. He had met a lot of local people and had fallen in love with a local girl. And the story ended with a wedding… A real full-scale wedding which of which only Slavs are capable of…

And so we came back to Timisoara. At the same time the sergeant-major from the 3rd platoon returned back from the trip to his home town of Syzran. He shared with me and Sergeant-Major Komarov part of the profit from selling the toilet soap. It was a large sum of money and it was very timely indeed. The prices in Rumania were growing steeply. Prices for everything went up whereas the Rouble exchange rate went down.

After dinner I was awaiting eagerly for when the dancing would start in the common room. In due course our accordion player squeezed his instrument and the dancing began. There were our “laundresses” from the logistic company: Asja, Toma, and … [remark: the name is missing]. Katja and a new medical instructor Masha also made appearance. There also came some girl-sergeants from the headquarters that I did not know. But my usual partner was absent. I felt I was missing her. Finally, two friends, whom I expected, arrived. We were happy to see each other and engaged in chatter and laughter. Everyone was in good humour all the evening, right until the “lights-out” order.

In a couple of days I was assigned a new duty: to accompany Lieutenant Zhitivoz in his trip. This time we were heading to Hungary, to the town of Kecskemét. Kecskemét stuck in my memory because there were lots of “Jonatan” apples for sale. We ate them as much as we could and also even filled our backpacks with them. Early in the morning (we stayed in a hotel in front of the town hall) we noticed an unusually large movement of vehicles and people. Looking out of the window, we noticed that the horse-carts, trucks, and the staff crawler transports were all going to the rear, to the east. We were informed that German tank forces had broken through the front in the vicinity of Lake Balaton and were moving towards the Danube in the Adoni – Dunafoldvar area. That is why all the offices of the Front’s second echelon – headquarters, storage depots, hospitals – were hastily escaping from the German mobile armoured forces. The lieutenant and I, after he had completed his assigned task, also rushed towards the control post on the Kecskemét – Szeged road.


http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2004/1899397233_d95656ac91_o.jpg
November 1944, town Timisoara, Rumania.

On return to our unit’s disposition in Timisoara I was informed that our company was to be urgently relocated to the Budapest area, where bitter fighting for the city was raging. I was sent in the advance group, which was tasked with finding suitable accommodation for the rest of our personnel. The situation on the Balaton was still very tense. The Germans were attempting to pierce the encirclement around Budapest, where considerable German and Hungarian forces remained to be trapped. The head of our group was Sergeant Major Komarov. Everyone was very attentive. The backpacks were loaded with the dry rations for 10 days, cartridges, grenades. The group consisted of 10 men. Two were armed with PPSh submachine guns and me with an SVT. The rest had the usual rifles or carbines. That same day we departed, aboard a military train going to the front. We passed Szeged during the night and reached Subotica in the morning, where we had to alight as the train was going in a different direction. In the middle of the day we took a small three-carriage train towards Budapest and reached the station at Kiskunhalas – a small settlement. There we had to stay overnight. We tried to find suitable accommodation in a house near the train station. The house owners, an old couple, reluctantly allowed us into their hall where there was no overnight heating. We also got from them some rugs, blankets and pillows. It was not enough for everyone, but we were grateful for what they gave us. We spread the rugs on the floor and prepared for dinner: American spam, bread, salo. We invite our hosts to share our meal but the man politely rejected our offer. After a while he brought us homemade white wine in a wooden cask. This really boosted our humour after a long day on the road.

In the morning, barely light, we thanked our hosts and left for the train station where we waited for a train. The stationmaster, a Hungarian, said that a train to Budapest was expected soon. There were also a lot of civilians on the platform waiting for a train. The boys in our group were young and lively and so they flirted with young Hungarian girls. The group dispersed over the platform. Finally the long-expected train arrived at the station – a steamer pulling few gondola type freight cars. Everyone rushed to board the train. Our boys helped their new acquaintances to get into the high-sided railcars.
That was the war’s slowest train ever…
After every few kilometres we spent hours standing at some small station. Some of the stations we stayed at were Soltvardkert, Kiskőrös, Fülöpszállás, Kunszentmiklós. Very late at night we reached Kiskunlacháza. It was cold. The only thing that brightened the trip was the company of the girls, who shared a railcar with us. It is curious how people speaking different languages are still able to communicate and understand each other. Twice during the trip we had a meal. We shared our stuff with them and they shared theirs, the best of which was Hungarian wine. In the twilight, many of the guys were sitting with their new acquaintances with their arms round each other in an embrace…
In the morning the train arrived at Takszon [spelling?] station in the Budapest suburbs. There was no way to progress further. Ahead were the frontline and the cannonade’s thunder.


[ to be continued ]

navyson
01-09-2009, 07:55 PM
Thanks Egorka!
Quick question, is the helmet he is wearing on page 26 the "usual" Russian army helmet? It almost looks like a German helmet.;)

Egorka
01-10-2009, 03:19 PM
That is СШ-36 (Steel Helmet 1936). In 1940 they were replaced by СШ-40 (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%A8-40).

Look in the middle of the page (only Rusaian): http://www.helmets.ru/cat_rus.htm#32

Egorka
02-10-2009, 03:52 PM
- 27 -


The station’s military commandant pointed us to an abandoned private house with knocked out windows. There we decided to arrange our company’s camp. Next to us was an Anti-Tank artillery unit with their cannons deployed in the dugout positions and with barrels facing Budapest, waiting for the breakout of the trapped SS men in the city.

At the same time the Germans increased the outside pressure with the aim of breaking through to the forces surrounded in Budapest. The main blow came from the direction of the Lake Balaton. The situation was critical. All of the units in the area of their main attack were assembled for the reinforcement of the frontline. We were placed on alert and ordered to move out to Dunaharaszti, where our engineers had thrown a pontoon bridge across the Danube. A constant flow of trucks, carts and groups of soldiers were pouring across it. On the left bank they were met by the border guards who directed the forces to form centres of resistance. We also were ordered to take up a defensive position and dig shelters and communication trenches. Those who had escaped earlier German attacks told us that German tanks and motorised infantry had broken through the defence lines and were racing towards Budapest and to the remaining crossings over Danube. But the enemy miscalculated this time and was stopped by the artillery and “Katusha” salvoes; forced to turn back without achieving their goal of reaching the encircled forces in Budapest.

After using all our bullets on Messerschmitts and Junkers-87s, which were attacking us from above we returned back to our initial positions at Takszon station. It was a rainy, slushy day - wet snow and strong winds. I and another soldier were to return to Timisoara to report on progress to the battalion’s leader. (The other soldier complained constantly of headaches. He was previously seriously wounded in the crown of his head. The medics had managed to cover the wound with the soft tissue and the wound healed. But one could see through the “hole” how his brain pulsated.)

Without delay I assembled my backpack and we went to the station to get a train. We waited for about 3 hours. During this time I struck up an acquaintance with a young Hungarian girl – Bebi (that is how she called herself). We walked back and forth along the platform conversing in broken German. The platform was full of civilians waiting for a train.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3034/3096468944_72e63d7153_m.jpg (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3034/3096468944_7c37dbfacf_o.jpg)

“Kukla” (Bebi) – a student from Budapest, who was my mascot during my mission to Timisoara and who accompanied me until her home town station Soltvadkert in the Summer 1945.
[remark: “Kukla” in Russina means “a doll”]
Encription in Hungarian on the reverse of the photograph:
“Orulet, hogy ez a kep
Milyen rettenetesen
Rossz kulonben sebaj.
Kukla
945”
English translation: “It is crazy how terrible this photo is. Otherwise it doesn’t matter. Kukla”
Our acquaintance happened to be very useful to her. An overcrowded passenger train arrived. The passengers even sat on the car roofs. It seemed impossible to get on board through the carriage doors as the areas behind them were completely packed with passengers and baggage. Then I took a decision to get into a carriage through the window (it was missing its glass). My partner with “a hole in the skull” assisted me. Once I was inside the compartment it was easy to pull in first Bebi and then the soldier. The compartment, to my surprise, had enough space not only to stand but even for Bebi to sit down (other passengers got the point that our patronage obliges them to squeeze a place for her voluntarily). Towards evening when it was time for her to leave the train she persuaded us to stop at her hometown of Soltvadkert, where she promised to thank us with excellent food and wine at her parent’s house. During the journey it had been entirely our treat: American spam and hot water with sugar. The other passengers were aware of the obvious courting from my side. By the way, when it was lunch time many offered us their food, home made sausages or Hungarian bacon, and, of course, wine. It turned out all the compartment’s occupants were great people! At the start, when the carriage was overcrowded and the rest room was not accessible, it was amusing to how people relieve themselves. I was amazed how simply it was done: women asked men to turn around and after pulling up the skirt would stick their behinds out of the running train window and do what they had to do. And what else to do!?

Towards evening there were fewer and fewer passengers remaining in the train. Most of them were refugees from the liberated quarters of Budapest who were going to their relatives and friends living in the countryside. “My Bebi” was a University student and was called up for work in a hospital during the Horty’s fascist regime. Now she was going home to her family. After fierce fighting their hospital was in the part liberated by the Soviet army. Those were horrific times: everything was crumbling and falling apart, exploding and burning. They survived in the bomb shelter she said.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3283/3095628461_216f7634db_m.jpg (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3283/3095628461_cc99f3d7fa_o.jpg)
Left: “Station Soltvadkert, Hungary, 1945.” Encription on the reverse: “Hungary, station Soltvadkert, 1945. (Between Budapest and Subbotica) Memorable for me because of “Bebi”, hare hunting and the family of couple where we stayed for a day. And what wine they have!!!! ”
Right: Bebi wrote: “Dein Kukla”
I and my companion agreed that it is better to accept the invitation than continue to travel through the night in a chilly train. We needed time off after the fighting on the banks of the blue Danube. We got off and the train vanished. Honestly I had an uneasy feeling about how her parents would react to a late night visit.

But everything turned out perfectly. After reuniting with their child, the father and the mother could not do enough for us. Bebi introduced us to her parents as real heroes, such Swedish [remark: ??? unreadable word] knights. In a word, but for us she would not be there! That was true. We got a separate room with beds, snow-white sheets and downy quilts… Such perfect bliss I did not even have from my own mother. The house and the household was prosperous. Ham, sausages, bread, and wine – the table was full.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3122/3095628575_600455f44d_m.jpg (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3122/3095628575_e0407bef9a_o.jpg)

“Bebi – a student from Budapest. 1945.”
Encription on reverse: “Sajnos ez egy remesen randa kep… De mivel annyira aka[rtad]. Kukla”
”Unfortunately this one is terribly bad picture… Just because so much you wanted it. Kukla”
The next day, after breakfast, Bebi categorically denied that we could leave without first looking around the household, vineyard and garden. The only cattle they had left was a single cow; “war is war”, she explained making helpless gesture. The vineyards occupied large area and were in excellent condition. We were ambling along when suddenly a hare jumped right out from under our feet. Instinctively I pull my SVT and got the hare on the third shot. The others did not even realise what was going on before it was over. I presented Bebi with my hunting trophy. In the following hours I saw several more hares but let them go with shooting – so that the locals would not get confused that a new war started! Worse to mention that there are a lot of wild hares in Hungary, Rumania and Yugoslavia. Many more than in my Siberia! What a paradox!

We returned for lunch. The table was served with appetizers and wine. Then the second course – meat in tomato sauce generously seasoned with pepper. Then marinated peppers and apples and lots of other stuff. We were given a cordial treat. It was a joyful family feast for everyone at the table.

It was time to go. Enough is enough! Bebi and her parents asked if we could stay for a couple of days more, but duty is duty. The road was calling! Looking through her family photo album I asked her if she could give me some photographs as souvenir. “Take anything you like” - she said.

Seeing us off on the train she kissed my companion and then kissed me many times! I was glad of her attention as she was such a lovely girl. Farwell! “Come again, you are always welcome” - were her last words…


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3092/3096469346_ee225fd138_m.jpg (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3092/3096469346_4289203aa9_o.jpg)
“Visantlanranto” – Goodbye! Bebi!
Encription in Hungarian on reverse: “Ha te szeretnel, es en szeretnelek, hogy szeretnelek! Твой Kukla.”
English translation: “If you loved me, and I loved you, Oh-h how I would love you! Yours, Kukla”


[ to be continued ]

Uyraell
02-15-2009, 10:45 PM
Not only am I very interested, I'd greatly enjoying having the data (in English, because I don't read Cyrillic too well) as a pdf.
As noted, the war years did not produce much information that was of use in the west, from a historical perspective, as Regards Russia/Soviet Union during WW2.
That alone makes for interest, that it is personal recollection from one who was there makes it doubly interesting.
Many Thanks, Egorka.

Regards, Uyraell.

Egorka
03-05-2009, 04:05 AM
- 28 -

Senior Sergeant Ms.Mohacheva.
The view over Timisoara’s suburbs were passing behind the train window. Back to the familiar train station and square next to it, the bridge over the Bega-Tamis channel and Bratianu street. The hotel that was our battalion’s barrack. I reported to the orderly officer and went to my bunk for some rest until evening. After the dinner, to the common room. The sound of accordion music was coming from there – the soldiers and officers, free of duty, were gathering.

I was not dancing at that time but had already noticed the absence of my usual partner – Senior Sergeant Ms. Maria Mohacheva. I was sitting and skimming through a thick pile of several days worth of newspapers - Red Star, Pravda and Komsomolskaya Pravda. The Sovinformbureau communiqué continued to report fierce fighting in Budapest. The left back side of the city – Pest – was already liberated. But Buda [remark: the right bank side of the Hungarian capital] still resisted. The beautiful bridges over Danube were blown up. The capital of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, was liberated. Fighting was taking place in Poland and the Baltic countries. In short the situation was progressing successfully. The enemy was in retreat on all fronts.

I caught sight of two friends, two Senior Sergeants, Maria Mohacheva and Galina Revyakina entering the room. They were not alone, but accompanied by a young Senior Lieutenant named Chistyakov, who had arrived a couple of months earlier after a spell in hospital.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3573/3329810945_a65fd28116_m.jpg (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3573/3329810945_791b315aca_o.jpg)
This photo taken on 26th February 1945 in Timisoara, Rumania.
Senior Sergeant Maria Mohacheva – a servicewomen of our battalion is enjoying her spare time.
On the reverse: “Think of me in the morning when you awake and quietly open your eyes
Think of me when the evening descends and silently the Moon rises.
Masha. 26/II-45. ”

Rumour had it he had been spending more and more time with my acquaintances. Maria noticed me and gave me a sign inviting me for a dance. Chistyakov took Revyakina and we all swirled in a waltz.

In a pause the first thing I got to know from Chistyakov was that he was to relocate to Budapest as a leader of two platoons. This meant I was also to move closer to the front line. Before lights out we walked the girls to their billet. There was still about half an hour at our disposal and they invited us to see how they live. A “Swabian woman” opened the door (that is how the girls referred to their hostess) and upon seeing men in uniform she was somewhat confused not knowing how to react, but noticing the girls favourable attitude towards us she invited us in. Maria and Galia occupied a small room. Two beds, a table and chairs were all that was in the room. In the corner there was a large three-sectioned mirror and a big lampshade. Neat and cosy. We express our admiration of their place and hinted that here one could spend time well and even dance to the hostess’s gramophone music. At the end the girls told us that it was Galia’s birthday the next day and we were therefore invited.

On the way back Chistyakov and I agreed that we should buy a present and get a couple of bottles of “Tsvica” (local vodka) and cakes. We had everything arranged by the next evening: flowers, cakes, a headscarf (from me) and a brooch – beautiful, but “made of pure glass” (remark: the author make a humorous reference to expression “made of pure gold”).



http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3399/3330645252_15ff763260_m.jpg (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3399/3330645252_4c3b6d104e_o.jpg)
Sergeant Maria Mohacheva.
On reverse: “To Yurii Klimov for the good memory from Maria Mohacheva. Timisoara. 9.II.1945”

But there was no vodka to be found – none on sale – the prohibition by Soviet Command due to numerous cases of breaching military discipline, scuffles and even shooting incidents.
So we had to find a workaround: ask in the restaurant and bought overpriced liqueur. Two bottles of the liqueurs: “Shartreuse” and “Coffe”. We were already late and took the tramway line to the west part of Timisoara. We missed our dinner ration, but dinner was not something our minds were preoccupied with just then…

Maria opened the door for us. They were both in civilian dress, both with fashionable haircuts, with make up and perfume. Both look wonderful. Revyakin and I greeted Galia on the occasion and, using the formal legal excuse, kiss them. We set up the table, the food and a bottle of cognac was served. The cutlery was from the hostess’s household. Everyone was invited to the table, the hostess, the “Swabian woman”, was also invited. The Lieutenant gave the toast and the party started….. We were eating, drinking, dancing to the gramophone music, then drinking and dancing again. The hostess retired to her room after the first cognac glass and did not interfere any more. We finished the cognac; finished the liqueur. Got pretty drunk. Going back to the barracks so late and specially in such condition is a sure guardhouse punishment. We all understand that, even the girls. And so we stayed with them overnight… What happened during the night is a secret!



Budapest
The train was speeding off. Senior Lieutenant Chistyakov, sitting on an empty artillery shell box, was giving instructions on how one could best kindle the firewood in the stove of the cargo car that we were travelling in. I had a hangover. Thoughts were rushing through my head after what my friend Silonov told me. Apparently, my absence from the platoon’s quarters was discovered during the evening roll call. Silonov replied to questions by the Sergeant Major that Klimov had left to go to the town regarding supply issues and had still has not returned. The Sergeant Major however did not report the absence of one soldier to his superiors and reported that everyone was present. He was counting on me to arrive after some delay. But I returned only in the morning, barely in time for the morning roll call, where our battalion commander announced the redeployment order. In short, my direct officers had their hands full without my breach of discipline.

I was lying on a plank bed listening to the knocking sound of the wheels and felt somewhat weird about the last night. Suddenly I recalled Olga in Odessa and realised that I had not written to her in long time. Then I recalled that I had forgotten to reply to my mother’s letter. Whatever I was thinking, my thoughts kept returning to Maria. After that night she became so close to me and I almost felt I loved her. I read somewhere that love is a human’s natural need created by means of natural selection in nature. That love is a spur, the spur of life and a continuation of the assurance of existence for future generations. All human instincts (conscious and subconscious) – fear, cunning, guile, courage and many others – the product of natural selection of the species. And as one said: “Every woman’s personal life has all the elements of a chess game – strategy and tactics.”


[ to be continued ]

navyson
03-05-2009, 06:48 AM
Thanks again Egorka! I'm keeping up!

jcompton
03-05-2009, 07:27 AM
Haven't been on in a while so I've spent my morning catching up. This is great stuff Egorka! Always interesting reading first hand accounts of this time in our world's history.

Rising Sun*
03-05-2009, 07:30 AM
Egorka,

Have you thought of trying to find a publisher for your grandad's memoirs?

I don't know about Eastern Europe, but this could be the sort of personal history which grabs the attention of some of the book-buying public in English speaking countries.

Egorka
03-05-2009, 09:55 AM
Thank you every one. I hope you are enjoying the read.
And thank to SlimFan - the guy who corrects the English spelling and grammar for me.

Rising Sun, I have been thinking of it just yet. You see, my main problem right now is that I don't have an electronic copy the text. Not even in Russian.
So right now I my priority is to turn it electronic. But publishing one way or an other in future could be an option.

Uyraell
03-06-2009, 02:35 PM
Thank you every one. I hope you are enjoying the read.
And thank to SlimFan - the guy who corrects the English spelling and grammar for me.

Rising Sun, I have been thinking of it just yet. You see, my main problem right now is that I don't have an electronic copy the text. Not even in Russian.
So right now I my priority is to turn it electronic. But publishing one way or an other in future could be an option.

Egorka : this is one phenomenally GOOD read, and I have very thoroughly enjoyed it thus far!
My Profound Thanks to you, and to SlimFan for his able assistance to you.

Seeing this memoire, coming as it does from a personal perspective, has been and is a great joy to an amateur historian such as myself.

Events and statistics can be recorded: it takes the "voices" of people to bring those things to life, which this memoire very vividly achieves.

My Profound Thanks, my Respects, and my admiration to you for this tremendous, and near unique effort.

Spasiba, bratets !

Warm and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

Egorka
04-08-2009, 06:29 AM
- 29 -

The opened doors let the cold rush of air into our heated goods car. The small Hungarian train stations covered by evergreen ivy, many of which I already knew from my previous trips, blinked through the door. Here was the familiar station of Soltvardkert. I rushed to the platform and looked into the faces of passers-by. Who knows, maybe I will again be met by wonderful Bebi? But no, her face was not to be seen…

The train carried us away, closer to the front line. We had already passed Fülöpszállás and Kunszentmiklós. The fire was jumping in the small oven making the car warm and even cosy. The guys were quietly singing the song “Ой, ты Галю, Галю, Галю молодая…” [remark: an Ukrainian folk song about a girl and Cossacs. Also known as "The Kozaks Were Riding (http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/1274321-rushnichok)"] to the accompaniment of an accordion - sadly.

We detrained at Taksony station and marched away in column. A close and constant cannonade was heard from the direction of Budapest. Our “Yak-3”s and “Lavochkin”s were seen in the air now and then. Then ground attack “IL-2”s. Our air superiority was now apparent. We were quartered in the very same house which we had prepared a week earlier. In Taksony we spent not more than a week unloading military cargo and munitions and loading the cars with used shells and the empty munitions boxes.

One day, right after reveille the duty officer ordered: “Line up! “Form-20” control.” We knew very well what “Form-20” control was. That was lice control. The platoon lined up, taking off their uniform blouses and vests and turning them inside out. The sanitation instructor walked along the line and meticulously observed the stitches. If at least one of the unit had a louse or a nit – the whole unit would be sent to the sauna and the clothing would be treated against the bugs. In the field this meant the clothes would be hot temperature treated in a steel barrel. This time we got away without the sauna and clothing treatment.

After forming a four-row column we marched through Dunaharaszti and after crossing the Danube arm we entered the island, which was covered with patches of osier and other bushes. The road was polished by traffic: the trucks and carts were moving both ways, the air was cut by our fighter planes. After 2 hours of marching we approached the pontoon bridge on the other side of the island, where the Danube flows through its main, broad arm. Senior Lieutenant Sokolov ordered the formation to break step. We stretched in one long thin line and kept walking along the right side of the pontoon, which rocked under the moving trucks loaded with ammunition. The right bank was steeper and we could see a large settlement with brick houses and a church in the middle – the town of Érd. We had just finish crossing and gathered next to some ruins as our anti aircraft guns opened continuous fire. Several Messerschmitt-109s making a howling sound rushed by and attacked the pontoon with machine gun fire and small bombs. Our planes pushed them away and forced them into a dogfight. We assumed formation again and marched further, this time to the north. In front of us the capital of Hungary – Budapest. The city was not seen but could be sensed by the constant cannonade and the smoke clouds which completely covered the sky in that direction. Soon we reached a wide asphalt road full of busy trucks, carts and medic's cars.

By evening we arrived at our new rally point – the railway station of Nagytétény with a small village of the same name adjacent to it. Next to the place where the asphalt road crossed the rails, a large wooden house was located with a drill ground fenced by barbed wire. It seemed it had previously been used by either the German or Hungarian military as a barracks. The civilian sector was just two steps away. Our HQ occupied one of those houses. Our noisy mob settled in the barracks. One part of it was open-plan and we made it into the dining room and common hall. The other half was split into small rooms. Depending on the size they were assigned to either a squad or a platoon. The next day – unloading of trucks with the shells and boxes into the drill ground, which served now for us as storage area. Some guys were sent to the railway station to unload the rail cars with the artillery ammunition. The work was conducted in two, and sometimes in three, shifts. Everyone was exhausted by the marching and constant hard labour.


[ to be continued ]

peopleselbow
04-14-2009, 04:45 PM
they sound like good reading

robbielynne
05-24-2009, 06:29 PM
I think it very fascinating to learn of another's experience and memories of the war..as was said before, it is insight inside the Americans haven't had..

nkkie123
05-24-2009, 10:50 PM
yes..ofcourse it would be very nice to learn other people's experience..http://storeyourpicture.com/images/signature_imageHost.jpg

Egorka
08-06-2009, 02:55 AM
- 30 -

I went to look around the railway station. It was small single-story building. The stationmaster’s office was abandoned. Telegraph equipment and the station’s seal stamp were on a table. Just for fun I used the seal to stamp paper forms spread around on the table. From the railway tracks I went down to the bank of the Danube. Most of the river ice had gone but some ice floes were still floating down the river. But what was that in the water?

Rolling from side to side, a woman’s corpse was floating in the roiling river. It almost seemed like she was swimming, and that at any moment she would raise her head out of the water… I looked carefully around at the water’s surface and noticed several more corpses. Much later, after the war, I learned that the Hungarian Fascist dictator, Szalasi, sensing that the end was near, ordered the elimination of prisoners at a concentration camp and in the Jewish ghetto. The victims were shot and dumped into an ice-hole on the Danube somewhere further upriver from Budapest. That is how I accidentally became a witness to that crime against innocent people, or rather the result of it.

Our unit’s stocks grew in size. The used shells were piling up and up. We sorted them into separate piles according to their calibre. The biggest of them was from the 152mm howitzer. It was the most expensive one because it was made of brass and weighted 7kg. The others were 100mm, 75mm, and 45mm sizes. To highlight the importance of our work we were told that a single 152mm brass shell was worth as much as a pair of high boots. Well, though we had plenty of brass shells, our boot supply was scarce. Everyone was after a pair of kersey boots – the object of soldier’s wildest dreams.
By that time the Germans had learned to produce shells made of more readily available materials, and were making regular use of steel shells. Those were collected and piled separately. The empty ammunition boxes were also gathered and sent back to the USSR filled with the used shells.

Once, we were woken by huge explosions at the nearby station of Budafok. The series of explosions continued all night, and even into the morning. Apparently, a whole train, loaded with ammunition, was attacked. The rumour had it that it was the result of saboteur’s action. One had to be on alert. The enemy could take advantage of any lapse.

Apart from loading /unloading the trains, we also patrolled the adjacent territories and manned the roadblock, checking the civilians’ papers and IDs. Travelling was allowed only with the appropriate stamp issued by the military commandant. One day, at the roadblock, I unexpectedly met a guy who I knew from the ‘Chervony Hutor’ farm near Odessa. He was driving a “Studebaker” and stopped to greet me. We were glad to see each other. At the end he gave me 2 bottles of Tokaj wine stored under his seat. Neither of us could drink – he was driving and I was on duty. But later the same day these bottles were much appreciated. Such reunions were a part of our life in war. They always brought joy.

Sometimes, in the evening, we got some free time from work and patrolling duty. These hours were mostly taken up with dancing on the outskirts of Nagytétény. The local Hungarian women would also come to the place, attracted by the music. The young girls didn’t refuse our invitation for a dance. My usual dancing partner was not there and so I normally danced with a young Hungarian girl Erzy (Or Eugenia in Russian). She was cute and shy, but I gradually gained her confidence
and took her under my wing. She lived just next to our camp and worked in the nearby clothing factory. Her parents were in territory still to be liberated. An old couple, her relatives, helped her out. Eventually I fully won her trust. She often invited me to her place in the evening for tea. I brought sugar and provisions with me. Sometimes her girlfriends were there too. We would dance to gramophone music. As a token of our brief international friendship, she gave me her photograph, which she had at that time.

(Erzy's photograph goes here. See photo 1 in attachments.)

In the end of February – beginning of March, Buda, the right bank side of Budapest, was finally taken by our forces. Our company leader, S.Lt. Sokolov, and other officers, took me and some other soldiers (Silonov, Pushkarev and Paramzin) for a visit to Buda. We mounted a couple of two-horse carriages and approached a big city, which appeared to be badly destroyed. The signs of recent fighting were everywhere: cracked asphalt, craters from explosions, broken glass from windows, rubble, electrical wires and knocked over poles, destroyed German armoured vehicles and trucks. Some houses were still on fire. In short – a scene of carnage.

We stopped and left the carriages at the Gellert Hill and walked up to the castle to see the city’s panorama from above. The castle was the site of the Germans’ last stand in Buda’s defence. Here and there some corpses still lay, but the POWs had already been taken from the castle.

The view to the city from the height was magnificent. The Hungarian Parliament, with a huge cupola in the middle, stood almost in front on the other side of the Danube. The remnants of 4 beautiful bridges fell into sight. They had been blown up back in the winter. Soviet engineers were working on one of them, hastily trying to restore traffic flow across the river.

(3 photographs in Budapest go here. See photoes 2,3,4 in the attachemnet.)

To get to the Pest side of the city, we had to go around as the bridges were still inoperable. After a lot of circling in the centre of Pest, we again reached the Danube’s bank, but this time next to the Parliament. We could not enter the Parliament as all the doors were tightly closed, but I managed to take a part of the Hungarian Parliament with me as a souvenir. It was a keyhole lid from one of the entrance doors (right wing). This relic I still keep in my memorabilia collection, which I gave to my grandson, Igor, on his birthday.

Pest was swarming with civilians working on cleaning the streets, removing the rubble and the barricades, filling in the trenches. But the shops were still closed, the food supplies were scarce. People were dressed in working clothes and were running around moving stuff, using for that purpose baby carriages, wheelbarrows and backpacks. Everyone was preoccupied by his own business, and was in a hurry. The walls of houses were covered with new Hungarian newspapers – “Neigabadshag” (remark: spelling???) – the Communist one and by other ones too. Hungarian and Soviet flags were waving around. Posters and slogans in Hungarian. Two graves in a small square in front of a Cathedral – the graves of two Soviet bearers of truce flag shot by Fascists - the graves covered with flowers.

Description of the following 4 photographs:

Erzy (on the left)
In Budapest, 1945. Zampolit, Captain Nazarenko and company leader S.Lt. Ivanov. “Csepel” river port.
On the bank of Danube next to the parliament building. Klimov is on the front. Sitting – moskovit Pushkarev, then – Litovchenko and Silonov.
Seregin, Silonov, Litovchenko and Pushkarev. The bridge was blown up by the Germans after their retreat from Pest to Buda in January 1945.



[ to be continued ]

navyson
08-06-2009, 07:05 AM
Thanks for posting Egorka, and the hard work. It's nice to see your grandfather was able to keep so many photographs, my father only has a few saved from his time in service back then.

Egorka
09-02-2009, 02:59 PM
- 31 -

Time passed. We were still at Nagytétény station. One day my platoon leader, Sgt. Zhitovoz, called me over and told me that I was to escort the next train, and to make the necessary preparations. Though it was an interesting task and a sign of his trust in me, I did not really want to leave our camp. We had just been informed that the rest of our unit, including Senior Sergeant Ms. Mohacheva, was to be relocated here from Timisoara. I really wanted to meet her again. But 26 empty train cars came in and were loaded with used shells in 2 days. I prepared a little heated goods van for my self, set up a little cast-iron stove, loaded half of the van with firewood (broken wooden ammunition boxes), and made a plank bed for myself. I also received 5 days dry rations and a food certificate. I was also issued with travel documentation: a piece of paper stating the purpose of my trip and my destination. The train was bound for the station at Reni, i.e. right to the border of the USSR. There the load was to be transferred to train cars of the standard Soviet railway gauge. Everything was ready, but we could not leave because of some rail track problems at the pontoon rail bridge across Danube. The rail bridge had been destroyed and our engineers were working on it night and day, as it was very important for further operations by the forces of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian fronts.

But thanks to this delay, I managed to see Maria and all the others. When we finally met, everyone had stories to share. The reunion with Maria was warm and it was obvious that it had been keenly anticipated by us both. I said that I was currently living in a railway van, waiting to leave at any moment. Maria replied that she would visit me in the evening when she was off-duty.

After dinner we, as usual, had some accordion music at our improvised “dance floor”. But I did not join the rest of the guys – I was sitting smoking in my railway van with my legs dangling out. Then I noticed two figures walking along the train. It was Maria with her friend Galina Reviakina. Soon Senior Sergeant Reviakina left to dance with others. Maria came up into my railway van and I closed the door, fed the stove some wood, and took out a bottle of Hungarian Tokaj wine. Maria stayed with me the whole night, taking advantage of the fact that female personnel were lodged in private apartments and were free from attending evening roll call.

Two days passed that way. Then I got a message from the station administrator, with whom I had kept in contact, that the steam locomotive would be arriving in 15 minutes and would then leave right away. It was to take the route along the right bank of the Danube as the railway bridge in Budapest was still inoperable. So I left without saying goodbye to Maria. That day I noticed that the cannonade was louder and that there were more airplanes in the sky than usual. The locomotive, covering no more than 30km, stopped in the evening at the little station of Ercsi. The actual settlement with the same name was situated about a kilometre away from the station, which was completely deserted. The only person around was a station operator, a Hungarian railway employee. Despite the fact that it was night, the cannonade only intensified! I even got feeling that it was coming in my direction. The next morning the locomotive was detached from the train, and it left to get fuel and water (that is what the station operator told me). The whole day went by, but the locomotive hadn’t returned. Another night went by – still no sign of the locomotive. The cannonade was sounding ever louder and closer. The station was still deserted. The toilets at the station were soiled completely – I couldn't even enter them.

I began to think what would happened if German tanks should get through. The only weapon I had was my SVT and a case of cartridges (though I had really plenty of those). It was then that I noticed some ruins not far from the station. Approaching them I realised that they used to be a Hungarian weapons depot. I figured that out from the remains of the rifles and handguns lying around in the ashes. Only a small shed remained intact. There I found a box of Hungarian hand grenades and a box of primers for them. I decided that before taking the box to my railway van I should test them first in a nearby ravine. I inserted a primer and threw a grenade. The explosion duly followed three seconds later. I tested few more of them, trying charges of different size (the Hungarian grenades are made so that it is easy to attach more explosive to them). Then I took the box to my shelter in case of an attack on me. Rumour had it that an attack could be expected even from civilians. Such incidents had happened more than once. Making sure that the locomotive was not to be expected within the next couple of hours, I went to the settlement. My plan was to get some water and, if possible, to buy some food.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3521/3882427304_d31920b9e7_m.jpg
A post card with Ercsi views. (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3521/3882427304_e1bffe75cd_o.jpg)



[ to be continued ]

VonWeyer
09-03-2009, 01:47 AM
I think it is absolutely awesome that detail and memories can be documented like that. What a privilege.

Egorka
09-11-2009, 03:06 PM
- 32 -
-

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2668/3904915224_75fd2f19bb_m.jpg
Ercsi - a small town not far from Budapest. (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2668/3904915224_cd654f4967_o.jpg)

I put an empty water canister in my back pack, and with my rifle over my shoulder went to the settlement. Ercsi was small, but it was cosy and neat looking. A small church was in the centre with a school building next to it.

I barely managed to get a bucket of potatoes and a bottle of milk. Bread was nowhere to be found. Anyone I asked would reply “Nich” (No). I also managed to acquire a couple of corncobs. And that was all. After filling the canister with water from a well, I went back to my train. The locomotive was still absent. Meanwhile I noticed that the cannonade from the direction of the Balaton and Velencei lakes had quietened significantly. Soon after that the locomotive arrived, though it was a different one with a different operator.

Finally my train departed. Though at some stations, or simply at a semaphore signal post, it would stop an hour or so. It was very annoying. At the station of Pusztaszabolcs the signs of recent fighting were apparent. The station building was destroyed. The station supervisor was using a rail car as his office. We passed Adony station – the same wreckage. Then the train went to Szekszárd through an open plain. The snow had melted. My car had a break platform and a conductors booth, which was elevated over the car's roof, giving a good view over the train. It was also useful for keeping an eye on the sky for a possible attack, though our air force dominated the sky. In the evening we arrived at Baja where we had to cross the Danube over a pontoon rail bridge. I had never before had such an experience. It was difficult to conceive that it is possible to lay rails over such a structure. But here the moment had come. My train slowly rolled to the other side, bending the rails and rocking over the waves. In the morning we arrived at the by now familiar Yugoslavian town of Subotica.



http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2637/3904130935_f53e3597f0_m.jpg
Lower three photos:
Left: “Me and private Silonov on the Subotica Station, 1945.”
Right-top: “A fellow Sibiriak from village Mamlutka – Grigiry Klokov.”
Right-bottom: “The blue Danube.” (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2637/3904130935_b98476e0be_o.jpg)


In Subotica I took on 3 passengers – Yugoslavian partisans who were to go to Kikinda. Such great fellows! Real friends! One of them was badly injured in recent fighting and the two others were escorting him home. They told numerous stories about their fighting in one of the Tito’s partisan units. They went through a lot of hardship: hunger, cold, hard mountain marches. Their power, the power that got them through the ordeal, was in their burning hatred of the German occupiers.

Another episode from my trip stuck in my memory. The train approached the town of Szeged. It was a wonderful sunny early morning. I climbed onto the roof of my car for a better view of the town. I had passed through this town several times, but never got a real opportunity to actually see it. On the approach to the rail terminal I noticed the wreckage caused by the American mass air bombardment. Big bomb craters were visible everywhere. It seemed the air raid was conducted the previous year when the town was still in German hands. I knew that large formation of American bombers conducted such raids from Italy and from the Ukraine. Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted. I was blown off the conductor’s booth and fell to the roof of my moving car. Apparently I caught a wire drawn across the rail tracks. I was lucky to fall onto the car's roof. It could have turned out differently, had the conductor’s booth been placed on the other side of the car. In that case I would had fallen under the weels of the train and these lines would never have been written.

During my trip I learned that a large scale offensive of the 2nd and the 3rd Ukrainian front had begun. The offensive was unfolding successfully and soon the fighting moved onto Austrian soil. The liberation of Vienna would not be long.

I stopped in the towns of Timisoara and Bucharest to re-supply my rations according my food certificate. The town of Reni is located on the border with the USSR. Here I delivered the train to the staff representatives, received a stamp and a note in my travel document at the military commandant office, and went looking for an opportunity to roll back to my unit. I got a place in a comfortable German-made passenger car in a trains destined for Bucharest. I shared the compartment with some young lieutenants, who were just graduated from the NKVD school. They were to go to Bucharest. Later, much later, I realised what a difficult task they had to do – to investigate the circumstances of thousands and thousands of Soviet people who were misplaced during war and ended in Europe. At the same time trains were rolling in the opposite direction. Those were loaded with “ostarbejder”, Russians and Ukrainians, forcefully relocated to Germany to work on their total-war program. Now they were going home. Once I witnessed the reunion of a brother and sister. The brother was a private in the Red Army, whereas the sister was travelling in a goods car together with other young women like her, to the Krasnodar region. This reunion was absolutely accidental and impressed everyone around. Two trains on opposite courses had to take a stop on the same stretch of rail. And can you imagine, that their cars stopped just in front of each other. That is how they met after many years of being apart. Tears of both joy and sorrow were in their eyes. Joy that they had both survived. But what might lay ahead?

When I reached Budapest, the train had to cross the Danube over a newly erected temporary rail bridge. Utilising the remains of the old bridge's piers, and the fallen steel bridge sections, our engineers built a temporary rail bridge. From the distance it looked wobbly, like it was made of matches. A train was rolling over it very slowly and cautiously. The sleepers were squeaking under the load but endured. Looking from the car's window it felt like our train was hovering over the Danube, as if it was an airplane.

Upon our arrival only one platoon of our regiment remained in Nagytétény with the task of assembling all the other who were, like me, had been sent away. The whole regiment had relocated to the vicinity of the town of Vesprem at Lake Balaton following the advancing front line. The days were tedious. Erzy also left to go to her parents as soon as she learned that her home town had been liberated.

When our group counted about 30 men, we took the train to rejoin the rest of the regiment. We were led by the commander Ivanov.


[ to be continued ]

Egorka
02-03-2010, 04:50 PM
It appeared that it was fully stuffed with the clothes which were collected from all over the Europe after the extermination of the French, Belgians, Poles, Jews, Czechs and Slovaks. How would he know that?

First, that the clothes came after the extermination of the owners?

Second, the countries it came from?
Just read today an interesting corroboration to this part of my granddad'd story. In the 3rd part (http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=938859#post938859) my granddad wrote:
"On the third station of the “Big Fountain“ there was a new three-storey school. It appeared to be stuffed with clothes collected from all over Europe after the extermination of French, Belgians, Poles, Jews, Czechs and Slovaks. These Cossack-policemen started to sell or barter the clothes. Some of the clothes had dried blood on them, some had the Star of David – the six-pointed sign that can be seen on the Israel flag today. The clothes were good and fashionable and the Cossacks and Vlasovists sold the stolen goods with little hesitation."

And here is info from the SPIEGEL interview with Annette Schücking-Homeyer who served as a Red Cross volunteer on the Eastern Front in Ukraine.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,674375,00.html
SPIEGEL: Do you know how many people were killed in Zwiahel?

Schücking-Homeyer: A few local Ukrainian girls helped us out in the soldiers' home; they said 10,000 people had been murdered. In any case, it was a large number, as I realized a few weeks later when the National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) opened a huge clothing warehouse in Zwiahel. Since our Ukrainian helpers always had so little to wear, one of the officers asked me if they wanted to have any of the clothes. So I went there with the girls. There was a lot of children's clothing. Some of our girls didn't want to take anything; others said "Heil Hitler" when thanking the soldiers. I wrote to my mother about it and immediately informed her nurses in Hamburg that under no circumstances should they take any clothing from the NSV -- because it was coming from murdered Jews.

commanderk
03-03-2010, 06:01 AM
Thanks for the story! (By the way - i'm a jew).

Rising Sun*
03-03-2010, 07:30 AM
(By the way - i'm a jew).

Who would have expected that in a member from Israel? ;) :D

Shalom!

Kittas
11-11-2014, 06:13 PM
I am very interested

Kilroy
11-12-2014, 10:27 AM
Some of this seems quite interesting