Memories of veterans of the Great Patriotic War

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Grigory Yefimovich

We would walk around and flaunt our bravery, our disregard of threats to life. But it was not complacency or a manifestation of immaturity. We consciously went to fight and die for our country. Every one of us was a volunteer and realized when leaving the ship, what future was in store for us...

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Alexander Alexandrovich

On 16 April 1945 at the Seelow Heights I had an occasion to kill a Hitlerite Tiger Panzer. The two tanks faced head-on at the road intersection. I was a gunner, and first to fire an armor-piercing round and hit the “Tiger” under its turret. The heaviest armored “hood” bounced off like a light ball.

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Pavel Pavlovich

Then there was some lack of clarity. I knew that there would be enemy panzers that I had to knock out, to move forward and do everything to win. I remember how I knocked out an enemy self-propelled gun: I hit it at short range... We liberated the towns of Volokhov, Karachev and Bryansk. When Bryansk was liberated, we were withdrawn for reformation to the Bryansk forests where we stayed a very long time.

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Bryukhov Vasily

In the battle of Prokhorovka our corps, in the beginning, was in the second echelon supporting the engagement of other corps and only then did we move forward. The distance between tanks was no more than one hundred meters, the only thing they could do was fidgeting, no maneuvering. It was not war, but tank slaughter. They crawled and fired. Everything was on fire. An inexpressible stench was in the air of the battlefield. Everything was so covered with smoke, dust and fire that it seemed that twilight had fallen. The air force bombed all. Tanks and vehicles were on fire. Communications did not work.

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Orlov Nikolai

I went out scouting so many times and every time under my own name. I had always been taught: “Whenever asked give your own name and tell where you lived, don’t fib, otherwise, you’ll get confused and will be caught!” For our deep-cover agents really sophisticated cover stories were invented, but this was not my case. I told them about myself. They started taking me to people’s apartments where residents still lived. The people would answer: “Yes, we know him, saw him around!” The “grandpa” “recognized” me right away: “Yes, he’s mine; I’ve sent him to fetch some kindling… what kept you so long?” This is exactly what he said.

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Kalinenok Marat

I remember when we rushed towards Konigsberg; our battalion travelled in a marching column on a highway. There was a slope on one side and a swampy depression on the other, and suddenly we ran into an ambush. German artillery pieces knocked out the lead and last vehicles from the mound, but we began to disperse and fire back. I rolled to the right, and then my tank was pierced through, but because of the short range all the crew members survived.... Then out of ten vehicles, I think, we lost four. When we seized the German positions we found that the gunners were chained to their guns...

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Yampolsky Joseph

In the afternoon my platoon, consisting of five T-26 tanks, entered the  village, and we split up. I went with three tanks along the main street,  while my deputy platoon commander Tereshchenko went with two tanks  along a parallel street. And then it began. They fired at us from  everywhere. One of our vehicles was burned, and the other was only  knocked down, but the crew was killed. Somehow I managed to make it on  foot to the tank of Tereshchenko and pick up from his dead, bloodstained  hands a map case with the map where the coordinates of the German guns  were plotted... God protected us; three tanks left the village and went  back to our lines.

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Sherstnev Alexander

At dawn we finally got to the intended region, mined the main road and  laid an ambush. The frost got severer, our hands were almost frozen.  Suddenly we heard the roar of approaching enemy cars and opened fire. We  killed four Fascist, took the staff papers out of a passenger car and  retreated. Soon motorcycles hurried to the assault place and opened a  random fire at the forest. When we were ready to fall back our comrade  Vanya Ochotnikov came and shouted that Germans were on the opening.

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On 16 April 1945 at the Seelow Heights I had an occasion to kill a Hitlerite Tiger Panzer. The two tanks faced head-on at the road intersection. I was a gunner, and first to fire an armor-piercing round and hit the “Tiger” under its turret. The heaviest armored “hood” bounced off like a light ball.
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On June 22 we had an exam. Well, when I heard on the radio that the war had begun, I thought: "That's good, maybe they'll at least give me a passing mark!"

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I come out to the edge of the wood and ... A fascist fighter is diving straight at me! Me - I'm running back to the grove, dodging. But he didn't grudge me a bomb.

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"Sergeant major, our unit commander is an asshole. I want to run away, but I don't want to get caught. That's why we'll make a deal -- you send me to the front, but don't note anywhere that I left, and I'll give you a bottle of "Tarhun" vodka and a block of "Kazbek" cigarettes". The hardest thing was when we had to march 100 kilometers in one night. Trot - gallop, trot - gallop. Endless commands: "Don't spare the horses! Don't spare the horses!" Because by morning we had to be in another place. In a non-combat situation...
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We had the right to advance, but if we wanted to retreat - sorry. We would stand to the death. The Germans counterattacked frequently. After there was an unsuccessful attempt near Narva, they struck Libava. And when they retreated, they didn't spare ammo, burned everything. By that time only eight of the twelve soldiers in my platoon remained. It was then necessary for me to get behind a machinegun. The no man's land was only sixty meters on my right flank. On the left flank it was 600-700 meters. All of a sudden, a splinter fragment that was shot by a "donkey" mortar...
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