March 8. International Women’s Day, as well as a holiday from childhood, when gifts are given to girls, and to mothers and grandmothers – tulips, sweets … Women, our halves. They have always been close to men, supported us at all the sharp turns of life, in sorrows, difficulties and … And in the war.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Marina Raskova, Yulia Belousova. Films have been shot about some of them, books have been written, songs have been sung. The remaining hundreds of thousands, who did not accomplish feats, but honestly performed their combat duty on the front line and in the rear units, were marked with awards, certificates of honor, and people’s memory. And there were millions more who forged victory in the rear, nursed the wounded, taught future soldiers and officers. You can’t remember all of them. But each person has his own memory cell, which stores the images of the closest women – mothers, daughters, grandmothers.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about the combat days of my two grandfathers. Probably, now, on the eve of the Eighth of March, the time has come to remember about their halves – my grandmothers.
Anna Alekseevna was born in 1915 into a peasant family in the Yaroslavl Region. In 1938 she married a young foreman who had come on leave. The young commander drove off to a new place of service, where after a while she also gathered.
From the memoirs of Anna Alekseevna:
I got out of the car on the Medvezhyegorsk platform, I look around, there are a lot of people, but Peter is not! How so? He himself gave the telegram, what would he meet? I looked at two young officers looking at me. Fit …
– Are you such and such?
– Yes, I am, – I answer.
– Peter cannot meet you, he sent us.
– And what happened to him?
– In the medical unit …
Two days before your arrival, there was a skirmish on the border with the Finns – drunken young guys started bullying our patrol. A scuffle ensued. Help was drawn up to the drunken Karelians, and a unit located nearby at the household works hurried to the rescue of our soldiers. Well, he got it …
In the thirty-ninth, a daughter was born. In the fortieth – the son. On June 22, the family was in a military town near Minsk. Except for the head of the family, who was in summer camps near the border. The officers’ wives with children and “disturbing” suitcases hurried along the road to the east. At some point they were brought up by a tank column, but then it turned away from the highway, and the women had to dismount. Then there were air raids. Bombs, machine gun fire … An “emka” drove towards them, the officer said that there was no point in going further – there were already Germans there.
The women decided to return. Suddenly one of them heard their name by name – on the side of the road lay the wounded chief of finance of the unit in which their husbands served. They provided assistance, but the wise officer understood that the wound was fatal, and therefore was in a hurry to give final instructions. He strictly forbade mentioning that they were officers’ wives, advised them to switch to maiden names. At the end, he opened a portfolio and handed them wads of money, instructing them not to change a lot, so as not to arouse suspicion. Then he burned the lists and … shot himself.
Minsk met young women with chaos, rush, bustle and fires … Soon the city was captured by the Nazis. I had to register, get a job. All for their sake – children.
Anna Alekseevna was assigned to work in the fields where vegetables were grown for the German army.
There were two local overseers. Changed every other day. And the old German colonel was in charge of this farm. He fought in the First World War and even sat in our captivity and understood something in Russian.
The guards were different – one silent and kind, or something … At the end of each working day, women with children were allowed to take vegetables according to the number of mouths. So I took it. Now two carrots, then two beets …
The second is the complete opposite. Short, loud and bustling. I didn’t have time to do one job, but he was already driving to another! Once I could not stand it, straightened up and sent it to all our Russian addresses! He is already speechless! And then he ran to the old colonel to complain. One comes. He called me loudly and asked in broken Russian: why did I scold the warden? With tears in my eyes I told him everything: that, they say, we do not have time to finish one job, but he is already driving further! The old man nodded, grinned into his mustache and left. We never saw the disgusting overseer again – we transferred him to another job …
Once, standing on the porch of a house, we peered at a column of prisoners of war who were being led from work to the camp and recognized one lieutenant from their unit! He was in a soldier’s tunic, unshaven, dirty, overgrown … They ran up to the guards, lied that he was the cousin of one of them! They asked to leave for the night and … The guard nodded in agreement!
The lieutenant in the kitchen was washed for a long time, cut and shaved. Then they fed what God had sent and they all questioned, questioned, questioned …
But he knew nothing about the fate of their husbands. Just on Sunday, June 22, I was on leave in the city.
In the morning I got up in a convoy going to work, and they never saw him again …
Over time, one of her friends, who worked in some bureau in the city, went to the Minsk underground. They began to forward the collected data to the partisans. Sometimes they sent some kind of parcels. And closer to the liberation of Minsk, communication with the partisans was interrupted. According to rumors, the detachment was completely destroyed somewhere in the swamps.
The Liberators were greeted with tears! The women cried with joy, and along with them, not understanding why mothers were crying, the children were crying too! The underground workers confirmed the activities of the officers’ wives, and the fate of camp life escaped them. Anna Alekseevna returned to her native village in 1944, where her husband soon arrived! He was given leave to complete treatment after being wounded, and he decided to find out the fate of the family at home.
Anna Alekseevna died in two thousand and three. From old age.
* * *
Maria Ignatievna was born near Brovary, in the Kiev region. She was seventeen on June 22nd. Father, a paramedic, was immediately drafted into the army. A few months later – an older sister. She worked as a telegraph operator at the Kiev post office, and on her shoulders, in addition, lay the care of seven brothers and sisters! Mother alone would not have done it. There are so many households and mouths …
The war spared the village at first – only behind the village an anti-aircraft battery sometimes hovered into the sky. How our units retreated, no one understood – a German column entered the village, but without stopping rushed to pursue the retreating Red Army units. Then the rear services appeared.
From the memoirs of Maria Ignatievna:
Two German soldiers entered the house. Like Plug and Tarapunka – one thin and long, the second short, plump. Well, of these there were those who shouted “uterus, yayko, milk tafai!”
One of them counted us (children) and with gestures asked the mother: are all her children? She nodded in the affirmative. He took a photograph from his pocket. He showed his three and again, with gestures, explained that with three you can go crazy, but here eight is less! They took nothing. So they left.
Then a man came into the house. Maria knew him. This man was from the district committee of the Komsomol. She was also a member of the Komsomol. The man called her from home to the street and talked for a long time. Their house was one of the farthest to the forest, and the girl knew all the paths there. We agreed that he would carry reports to the forest.
But this did not last long. Apparently, someone recognized the employee of the district committee. His man said that an arrest was being prepared. The Komsomol worker and Maria got together and, confusing their tracks, drove on a cart to a neighboring village. But we ran into a post near the bridge over the Dnieper …
From the memoirs of Maria Ignatievna:
Worse than the Nazis were ours – those who went to the police. So at the post, we presented our documents, and they did not arouse suspicions among the Germans, and one of the policemen peered into our faces for a long time and admitted.
– Isn’t this Masha from Cellars? Komsomol member, who was sitting at the collective farm cash desk? ..
– Exactly! – confirmed the second.
The district committee worker did not wait for the denouement and, drawing out a pistol, began to shoot at the patrol.
– Run! – he managed to shout to me.
I rushed to the high bank, but a machine gun fire sounded from behind. Molten fire lashed at my legs. From the pain she lost consciousness and rolled down the cliff to the river.
She was considered killed. Nearby, the body of a district committee worker was thrown off …
At night, the partisans sailed in boats to pick up the bodies and were surprised to see that Maria was alive.
At first, a partisan doctor took care of her for a long time, then, after the liberation of Kiev, she was sent to the orthopedic hospital that opened in the capital of the Ukrainian SSR. There, in 1945, she met her future husband – a very young sergeant of the tank forces with a stiff leg.
The guys wooed Maria. But she refused. I didn’t want to associate fate with a healthy one, so that later I wouldn’t reproach, they say, I took you a cripple.
In 1946, his father returned from the army. Completed in Germany the last wounded soldiers.
From the memoirs of Maria Ignatievna:
One morning my father calls me into the yard. I go out onto the porch, and there is a cart harnessed, the driver and he – Vasya …
– Ignat Andreevich! I’m not going anywhere from here until you give up Mary for me!
Father frowned, then with a trained eye noticed that one of the groom’s legs was not bending, he turned to me, and I just nodded. They collected my simple dowry and went with him to the other bank of the Dnieper! ..
* * *
These are the stories that are kept in my memory box. Maybe there is nothing heroic in them, such that it would take your breath away and you would like to make a film. And you try on yourself – will everyone decide to be in the occupation with two children? Or, risking the lives of your own and those of your loved ones, carry reports to the forest? That’s just it.
Thank you, our dear grandmothers, mothers, wives!