I wish I could look into the eyes of my great-great-grandfather!

Where does our memory go

I think that every family of our time, when the Soviet Union is already a distant past, still has relatives who fought or were somehow involved in those terrible times of the war. Our family is no exception, but we have very little information and information about my great-great-grandfather, Vasily Skrypnik, about a man who died more than thirty years ago.

Yes, over the past years, somehow it was not possible to preserve too much about a loved one, whom everyone calls wonderful today, and we almost do not know how he fought. Unfortunately, there is not a single front story from the great-great-grandfather in the family legends, but at least front-line photographs have been preserved.

Now published data from archives, documents and essays about those units and formations in which our ancestors served in those years have come to the rescue. However, even on the very capacious sites “Heroic deeds of the people” and “Memory of the people”, my great-great-grandfather is reported only on the occasion of being awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of the II degree to the 40th anniversary of the Great Victory.

Later, Vasily Yemelyanovich received another order of the same kind, and also medals remained from him, including “60 years of the Armed Forces of the USSR.” But there is still a memory that was passed down from generation to generation, but this is the memory of the great-great-grandfather himself, of what he became after the war, how he had already lived a peaceful life.

It is unlikely that some of us are not proud of their grandfather or grandmother, who fought or simply helped to fight in the rear during the war. It seems to me that those who, by the will of fate, were captured or managed to survive the occupation, are worthy of respect. You should never forget about this and you should always say thank you to all these people, as long as there is an opportunity.

In our family, only one person fought, my great-great-grandfather Vasily Emelyanovich Skrypnik. There is very little information about him, only photographs and a few medals remained, and everything else was passed on only from the lips of relatives.

Vasily was born on January 14, 1904 in the village of Dzhugastra, Kryzhopol District, Vinnytsia Region, Ukrainian SSR. He went through the entire Great Patriotic War, however, even according to archival data, we still have not been able to find out in which unit and formation he served.

Before the war, the great-great-grandfather lived in the village and was engaged, of course, in agriculture, he probably had the childhood of an ordinary rural boy, although he fell on the revolution and the civil war. Now, hardly anyone will tell how the great-great-grandfather survived collectivization and whether he served in the Red Army in his youth. But even before the war he managed to get married, and they had three children with my great-great-grandmother, two daughters, Anya and Natalya, and one son, Arseny.

When Nazi Germany attacked the USSR, Vasily Yemelyanovich was called to the front. It happened in the summer of 1941 after mobilization. He fought on the South, and then on the Steppe and 2nd Ukrainian Front, which was formed on October 20, 1943. It is unlikely that my great-great-grandfather fought on the front line: after all, already at the time of mobilization he was under 40. Unfortunately, there is almost no information in the family about where and how the service of Private Vasily Skrypnik was held.

Most likely, he had to experience the hardships of the retreats of 1941 and 1942, and the most terrible battles with the enemy, and he ended the war somewhere in Hungary or Austria, where in the spring of 1945 the troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, led by Marshal R. Malinovsky. It seems that he never told anyone of those who still remember him about any of his exploits. The family knew that great-great-grandfather was very modest and not too talkative.

But I know for sure that my great-great-grandfather was in those battles when the troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, which were then commanded by Marshal Konev, crossed the Dnieper in the late autumn of 1943. They conducted the Pyatikhat and Znamenskaya operations to expand the bridgehead and later reached Kirovograd and Krivoy Rog. The battles at Kryvyi Rih were very difficult, as were the multi-day battles for Znamenka.

However, the front managed to break the enemy’s resistance and take initial positions already beyond the Dnieper for a subsequent offensive in the right-bank Ukraine. In the spring of 1944, the troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front carried out a series of operations, which eventually forced Romania to surrender and join the ranks of the allied forces in the war against Nazi Germany.

What the war taught him

After the war, the family of grandfather Vasily lived in the same place: in the Vinnytsia region, Kryzhopolsky district, in the village of Dzhugastra. Vasily was engaged in beekeeping and delivered honey throughout the village. His youngest daughter Anya died during a fascist attack on the village, she hid from the invaders in a barrel of water, and subsequently died of severe pneumonia.

Son Arseny after the war and until the end of his life was the chairman of the collective farm. My daughter Natalia, my great-grandmother, moved to the capital of Soviet Moldavia, Chisinau, where she worked as a telegraph operator, where she got married and gave birth to two children: Sergei and Galina. Natalia’s daughter, grandmother Galya, later gave birth to Alexandra, my future mother, and her sister Tatyana. Already in old age, Vasily Emelyanovich also moved to Chisinau to Natalia, where in 1987 he died a very old man in his apartment.

My mother tells about my great-great-grandfather, her great-grandfather, that he was very kind, that the war taught him to value primarily his family, which he was very afraid of losing. Despite the war and hardships, according to my mother, he was always cheerful in body and spirit, even in his old years. Mom happily recalls the moments when her great-grandfather, whom everyone called just grandfather Vasily, gave them “denyuzhki” for chewing gum and, as always, loved to talk with grandchildren.

Now it is a pity that there is so little information left, some information about such an interesting person as my great-great-grandfather. A lot was lost or simply destroyed by war and time, and only fragmentary memories, as well as orders and medals of my great-great-grandfather make me realize and understand that the war affected the lives of all people of that time.

It seems to me that no one will be surprised that my thoughts about my great-great-grandfather are very bright, and I am very proud and happy that his blood flows in me. And I have no doubt – I know for sure that he was ready to give his life for his Motherland and for his family! I am scared to imagine what my great-great-grandfather felt during the moments of the battles, whether he was scared or was sure that nothing would happen to him.

I probably will never know this, but I know for sure that we must remember such people, because their lives make it clear that the main thing in our life is the Motherland and family! It is sad to understand that we are probably the last generation of those who can still see with our own eyes the veterans of the Great Patriotic War and learn directly from them something about the war. And just tell them: “Thank you!”

They defended their homeland, fought for us, wanted us to be happy and not think about such a terrible phenomenon as war. It is very scary to realize that people do not understand this now. In the modern world, there is a tense situation, which, with the wrong actions or simply conversations of politicians, can lead the world to a new war.

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