Children, war and memory
A big and terrible war is moving further away from us. Less and less remains of its participants, witnesses and eyewitnesses. The more valuable is the memory of each of them about that terrible time.
Tatyana Kukovenko, a resident of Moscow-based Domodedovo, is a man of amazing destiny. All her childhood passed under the sign of horror, hunger and death. Before the war, her parents moved from Smolensk to the village of Chentsovo, near Mozhaisk. Tatiana's father, Joseph Sokolov, was a carpenter - golden hands. He quickly cut down a great house for his large family. In this house, before the war, children's voices did not subside - the wife of Joseph Akulina gave birth to six children.
And then the war broke out. The Germans began to approach Moscow. The situation was desperate. Joseph, despite the six on the benches, mobilized to the front. He hugged his wife, children, kissed the three-year-old Tanya, and in a column of his fellow villagers went towards Moscow. Young children mobilized for a long time fled along the column, seeing off their fathers. Many men could not hold back tears. Then the mourners huddled on a hillock and waved their hand after their fathers and brothers leaving for war until they disappeared beyond the horizon line.
The six children of Joseph Sokolov were left with their mother. The war was approaching their village. And in the winter of 1942, the Germans entered Chentsovo. They chose the Sokolovs house right away - it was warm, spacious and the infantrymen in gray overcoats liked the most. A whole platoon settled here. And the days of a nightmare began for Joseph's family.
The Germans were shaped monsters. Locals, they did not consider people. The invaders living in the Sokolovs' house mocked the children all the time. At night, when it was cold to the soldiers to sleep, they tore the clothes from the children lying on the stove and hid them. And the undressed children huddled with each other, trying to warm their brother or sister with their bodies. But then Tanya's grandmother, Anisia Sheiko, entered the fray. Grandmother Anisia was not afraid of the devil, or death, or the invaders. She tore the children's clothes off the sleeping Germans and wrapped her grandchildren in her again. Anisia did not let the Germans descend at all. When another conflict flared up, she attacked the Germans and pounded them with a swing of her fists, beat her elbows, kicked them. Her hard little cams flashed in the air like the blades of a mill. The Germans, with a laugh, fought back from her, but were still inferior to the requirements of “Rus' Anisya”. They were amused by this energetic and recalcitrant Russian grandmother.
Adult girls in the village were generally afraid to go out. The Germans opened a real hunt on them in the village. Those houses in which potential victims lived, they marked with black crosses. The neighbor-blacksmith had three adult daughters. After one of the drinking bouts the Germans decided to have fun. At first they paid attention to Tanya’s older sister. But her grandmother prudently sent to a neighbor. He hid it in the underground with his daughters, and put a table on the cover of the underground. The Germans trooped into his house. Not finding a potential victim, they began to beat the blacksmith himself. The girls sat quietly in the subfield and heard the angry screams of the Germans, the dull thumps and the way their father’s body crashed to the floor.
One day, the invaders seized someone from the local partisans. After much torture, they decided to hang it publicly. The whole village was driven to the place of execution. Little Tanya was also there with her mother. At the moment of execution, her mother covered her face with her hand. But Tanya remembered that before the hanging the Germans had blindfolded the partisan with bloodied footcloths.
And then the "guests" found out about the connection of Tanya's mother with the partisans. And then they decided to shoot her. They broke into the house, grabbed Akulina Prokofievna by the hair, put it against the wall and raised their rifles. Grandmother Anisia rushed to save her daughter. She was hit on the head with a butt so that she lost consciousness and collapsed without feeling. All the children sitting in the hut shouted and cried in voice. But then an officer entered the house. When he saw the children, he roared at his soldiers: “Niht Schiessen, kleine kinder!” (“Do not shoot - small children!”). The soldiers reluctantly obeyed. And then, when the officer went to headquarters, dragged his mother out into the street — barefoot in the snow — and made several volleys above her head, right and left, and also shot at her feet. A woman without feelings fell into the snow. She was brought home by the time the grandmother and grandchildren came to her.
Grandmother Anisia completely lost her hearing from the butt strike. Because of this, she died. Somehow she went to the railway station - for breadcrumbs for her grandchildren - and did not hear the noise of the approaching train, or the signals of the driver. Train it and demolished. Anisia Sheiko was buried with the whole village - both old and young. Even those who knew very little of her came. At that time, the common misfortunes very strongly rallied people.
With the three-year-old Tanya, the Germans did not stand on ceremony either. They threw it several times into the street, into the snow. Following her, her older sister immediately ran out, covering her, lying in the snow, with a sheepskin sheepskin coat, quickly turning into it and, like a favorite doll, carried her back to the house.
Of the Germans, only one turned out to be sane - the headman. Before the offensive of the Red Army, he ran into the house of the Sokolovs and gave them two kilograms of sugar from under the floor. Then he took out his family photo and began to point Akulina with a finger at his children. There were tears in his eyes. “Probably, he feels his death,” Akulina guessed.
Mother spread this sugar into six piles - right on the table. The children covered each column with a bit of bread and ate it. Mama used to make bread from sawdust, rotten potatoes and nettles - there was no flour in the village then. For Tanya, this delicacy was the most delicious meal of the entire occupation.
And then came the Red Army. In Mozhaisk district fierce fighting broke out. Almost all the "guests" Sokolovs were killed in those battles. The first really killed Nachprod, treated the children goodbye sugar. But those who survived, during the retreat, set on fire Chentsovo and all the surrounding villages. The black smoke of the fires clouded the whole horizon. House Sokolov also burned. The whole family had been kicked out into the cold. The wooden house blazed before their eyes, and the red tongues of fire that lit the walls of the house were reflected in the children's tears.
In those battles near the village of Chentsovo many Red Army men were killed. Their frozen, corpulent bodies lay along the bank of the river. The hands of many of those killed tightly squeezed rifles. Akulina Prokofievna walked from one dead soldier to another, turned over their numbed bodies, face up, mourning each of the fallen. She wanted to know if her husband, Joseph, was among those killed. He was not among the fallen. As it turned out, the father of six children, Joseph Sokolov, was killed later during the fighting in the Luhansk region.
After seeing and mourning the dead, the fire victims went with their whole family to look for further shelter. But in other villages, too, everything burned to the ground. One of the men let the Sokolovs into his bath. Bath was heated in black. Here the whole Sokolov family was finally able to wash. And little Tanya was continuously crying from hunger and smoke.
One of the officers of the Red Army, seeing the fire victims, ordered the fighters to build at least some temporary shelter for a large family. The soldiers built it at the Stakhanov pace day and night. In this hut Sokolov lived until the end of the war. Her roof was made of straw and often leaked in the rain. Then the whole family quickly put the pots and buckets under these jets. When the wind blew, the straw from the roof flew all over the village.
After the departure of the Germans, life in the village began to slowly get better. The villagers appeared cattle (the one that was before, the Germans cut out cleaned). Chentsov ceased to starve. When the herd in the evening, under the supervision of a shepherd, returned home on the main village street to the evening milking, the smell of fresh milk hung all along the way. This delicious smell is the most pleasant memory of Tanya about her post-war childhood.
The children were no longer starving, but they were sorely lacking in shoes and clothes. One pair of shoes was worn by several people. When the older children were returning from school, the younger ones stuffed paper and rags into their shoes and ran out to play outside.
Household and thrifty Akulina started a cow, pigs. When the pig was pregnant, she was carried into the house on the litter. She was cared for as a man, and followed in both. The mistress was afraid that the sow would crush some of the newborns with its mass. “Take care of the piglets,” said the mother to her children. “Each of them is a dress, a jacket, or shoes for one of you.”
Peaceful life was getting better. But in it, both the children and Akulina every day were sorely lacking only one thing - Joseph.
Joseph and Akulina
And then the war ended. Until recently, Mama Tanya refused to believe in the death of her husband. Day and night, soldiers returning from the front were walking home through the village — tired, dusty, gray. And to each of them, passing by the house, Akulina Prokofyevna ran up: a serviceman, but did you meet with the case in the war of private Joseph Sokolov? Servicemen apologized, guiltily looked away, shrugged. Some asked for water. Akulina treated them with bread and milk. And then, powerlessly lowering her hands, she sat for a long time near the window, looking somewhere off into the distance. “If I were a pigeon, I would flap my wings and fly far, far away to see my Joseph, among the living, or among the dead, with one eye,” she sometimes told the children.
Having survived the horrors of the German occupation, Tatiana Kukovenko still almost every day remembers her father who died in the war and her mother, Akulin Sokolov. She still gnaws a vague feeling of guilt for the fact that she in her life has not done for her something very important.
And the pre-war black and white photos of Joseph and Akulina hang on the wall of her apartment next to each other. As if they had never been separated.
- Igor Moiseyev
- Igor Moiseev
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