VICTORY DAY

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic



ON A SMALL SIBERIAN TRAIN STATION
I dedicate this story to my mother Perlova S.S
Victory Day has long passed. It has been more than 70 years since that day. Of the people who participated in that day only a few dozen remain, and of those who witnessed it remain only several thousand. Newsreel footage from this day show events in capitals and large cities but wouldn't it be interesting to find out what happened on that day in thousands of other, less well known, places.
The Second World War began on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. But for the USSR the war began on June 22, 1941. As the song goes "On June 22, exactly at 4 o'clock, Kiev was bombed, we were told that war had begun."
My father was in the army while my mother and I lived in Kiev. On that fateful day one of the bombs hit the house next door right in front of my bedroom window. The bomb fell while I was sleeping and as a result for the next 20 years I developed a slight stutter. It only took the Germans three month to enter Kiev. On September 19, with the Germans at the city's gate, a ship evacuating the families of the servicemen left the pier on the Dnieper, carrying myself and my mother with it. My first memory was sitting on my mother's lap, on the deck of the ship behind the stern. I remember bombshells dropping overhead creating the most beautiful pillars of water as they crashed into the river. My second memory was of a freight car. On the walls of the car were three sleeping compartments stacked on-top of one another. To call them 'sleeping compartments' is to give them too much credit as they were made of simple wooden boards. When the train stopped at a major station, people crowded into the hallways shouting "boiling water, boiling water." They then rushed out of the trains and lined up outside huts labeled with "Boiling Water" signs. Boiling water was the only amenity available to refugees such as us and I remember people filling pots at each stop so we could at least have some tea on the train. This train drove us to Siberia.
My mother was a doctor and she was sent to work in a village near the train station "Kargopolya" of the Sverdlovska region. For the next several years, my mother was the only doctor for the 40 nearby villages. As a head medical personnel she was even given official transportation - a horse with sleighs in winter which was replaced by a cart in the summer. Her hospital consisted of one room with four beds, a doctor's office and a corridor which served as a reception area. In addition to my mom, the only other employee was a cleaning lady. The hospital also served as our house. The porch was from the courtyard. Our apartment consisted of a small porch, a kitchen with a large stove and a single room.
On May 8, 1945 at 22 hours and 43 minutes, Field Marshal Keitel signed the act of unconditional surrender. In Moscow it was already May 9, 00 hours and 43 minutes. That is the reason why in the West, Victory Day is considered to be on May 8, and in the USSR it has always been May 9.
I graduated from first grade when my teacher heard on the radio about Victory Day. We were all given the day off to celebrate the occasion and we did so by running to the train station. Military echelons usually passed through our station and on that day two echelon, with troops heading east to fight the war with Japan, stopped at the station. The soldiers left their carriages, and I remember the joyous confusion that ensued. I remember hearing an accordion, songs and joyful shouts. At some point someone gave a command, and this whole human whirlpool stopped and all the soldiers began shooting their rifles into the sky. They shot into the air from everything they had: rifles, pistols, machine guns and rocket launchers. It was absolutely unbelievable. We wandered among the soldiers collecting cartridges from the ground, and stuffing them into our pockets. Suddenly, a middle-aged soldier with a big bright mustache and medals on his chest gave me two brightly colored pencils. The pencils we had were made of just plain wood, without any coloring. I remember seeing those colorful pencils and thinking what a beauty they were. One pencil was bright yellow, the second was bright red with incomprehensible inscriptions. The fireworks was over, the soldiers returned to the carriages, the first echelon started, and we went home. I tightly clenched my treasures in my fists and ever since then Victory Day for me has always been associated with brightly colored pencils and loud fireworks.

 



Submitted: September 28, 2019

© Copyright 2021 Eduard Lecker. All rights reserved.

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Thelma Galván

A story worth to read. A history lesson that should be more shared. And the end is simply marvelous.

Sat, September 28th, 2019 11:09pm

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