I wrote in a letter about the battles for the station Chupriyanovka and how the dead soldiers became unknown. The circumstances were such that since then I decided to put my memories in order. Actually, this letter was the beginning of the work on the book, to restore in detail in memory all that was experienced. Now, when my “finish” is not far, I want to be in time, as much as possible to do. There is little free time, I sometimes get sick, I work, and time runs faster than thought.
In those harsh days of the war, all the burden in the battles to liberate our land fell on the infantry, on the shoulders of ordinary soldiers. Receiving replenishment in people, we fought incessant battles, knowing neither sleep nor rest. Choking with blood and weaving this beautiful land with corpses of soldiers, we clung to every knoll, every bush, to the edges of the forest, to every village, to every burnt house and to a broken barn. Many thousands and thousands of our soldiers remained forever on those nameless frontiers.
In December, 1941, we were poorly supplied weapons and ammunition. There were practically no artillery and shells. We, in rifle companies, had only rifles and a dozen cartridges for a brother. It was a difficult time, the enemy was standing near Moscow. It will be hard for you to imagine what kind of fights they were The German was armed to the teeth, his artillery smashed our positions, not sparing shells ...
Very many of you, having a superficial idea of what war is, self-confidently believe that they are sufficiently knowledgeable. They read about the war in books and watched movies. For example, I am outraged by the booklets "about the war," written by front-line "front-line soldiers" and "entrenchments" of staff and rear services, in the literary rendition of journalists.
And what do those who are elevated to the rank of preachers of truth write ?! Take at least K. Simonov with his novels about the war. K. Simonov himself did not see the war, did not look at death in the eyes. Traveled on the front roads, rubbed the soft seat of a passenger car. He conjectured the war and imagined from the stories of others, and the war, in order to write about it, must be experienced in its own skin! You can not write about what you do not know. What can a person say if he was tens of kilometers away from the war?! ..
Many are judged on the war by the movies. A friend of mine, for example, argued that when the battle goes on in the forest, the trees are burning.
- Why? - I asked him.
- Didn't you ever see a movie?
In a movie, only children are judged on war. They don’t understand the pain of a soldier’s soul, they are served in the movies shooting, hand-to-hand fighting with tumbling and trees burning with fire, doused with gasoline before shooting.
A work of art, staged in cinema, or the so-called "Chronicle of Events", gives a collective image: battles, battles and episodes - vaguely reminiscent of war.
I must disappoint you, from the cinema to the reality of the war - very far. What was happening ahead, during the onset of rifle companies, the movie did not reach. The infantry took those terrible days with them to the grave.
War can not be reported on the newsbase. War is not a sentimental movie about love on the "front." This is not a panoramic novel with their romanticization and varnishing of war. These are not the writings of those prose-war veterans, in whom war is only the background, the background, and in the forefront, there is artistic fiction overshadowing the entire space in the laces of literary turns and fringe. This is not a curved arrow drawn in red pencil and indicating the point of the main strike of the division on the map. This is not a circled village ...
War is a living, human step of a soldier - towards the enemy, towards death, towards eternity. It is human blood in the snow while it is bright and still flowing. This is soldier corpses abandoned until spring. These are full-length steps, with open eyes - towards death. These are shreds of a rough soldier's overcoat with blood clots and intestines, hanging on knots and branches of trees. This is pink foam in the hole near the collarbone - the soldier's entire lower jaw and larynx are torn off from the soldier. This is a canvas boot, filled with pink mash. This is a bloody spray in the face, - a soldier torn by a projectile. These are hundreds and thousands of other bloody paintings along the path that front-line "front-line soldiers" and "entrenchments" of battalion, regimental and divisional services followed.
But war is not only a bloody mess. This is a constant hunger, when salted water, mixed with a handful of flour, instead of food, reached the soldier in the form of a pale balanda. It is cold in the cold and snow, in stone basements, when living substance in vertebrae freezes from ice and hoarfrost. These are the inhuman conditions of being in the living state on the front line, under a hail of fragments and bullets. This is shameless obscenity, insults and threats from the staff "front-line soldiers" and "commanding soldiers".
War is just what they don’t say, because they don’t know. From the rifle companies, from the front line, the loners returned. Nobody knows them, and they are not invited to TV shows, and if one of them decides to tell the truth about the war, then they politely close his mouth ...
This begs the question: who among the surviving eyewitnesses can say about people who fought in companies? It’s one thing to sit on the rolls, away from the front line, another thing to go on the attack and look point-blank to the Germans. War must be known inwardly, felt with all the fibers of the soul. War is not what people who did not fight in the company wrote!
I divide those who were assigned to DKA (Active Red Army) during the war into two groups, front-line soldiers and "participants", - on those soldiers and officers who were in companies, on the front line during the battle, and on those who sat behind their backs in the rear. The war for those and others was different, and therefore they both speak and remember it in different ways.
These were inhuman tests. The bloody, snowy fields were littered with the bodies of those killed, pieces of scattered human meat, scarlet fragments of overcoats, desperate cries and moans of soldiers flew in from all sides ... All this must be experienced, heard and seen in order to present these horrible pictures of war in all details.
And now, I write and see - they are before me, like living ... I see the weary, pale faces of the soldiers, and each of them, dying, wanted to say something ... To say to those who remain after them to live on this earth, soaked in their blood. These thoughts do not give me rest.
What hopeless longing for life, human suffering and imploring eyes for help, these people died! .. They died not in carelessness and not in the silence of the deep rear, as those fed and warmed by the warmth of the village huts and the inhabitants were front-line "front-line soldiers" and "entrenchments".
They are front-line soldiers and entrenched rifle companies, before death they were cruelly cold, they froze and froze to death in snowy fields in the wind. They went to death with their eyes open, knowing this, expecting death every second, every moment, and these small periods of time dragged on like long hours.
Condemned to death, on the road to the scaffold, as well as a soldier with a rifle in his hands, going to the German, with all the fibers of his soul feels the jewel of a passing life. He wants to just breathe, see the light, people and the earth. At such a moment a person is cleared of greed and envy, of bigotry and hypocrisy. Simple, honest, free from human vices, the soldiers each time approached their last fateful line.
Without "Vanka Rotnogo" soldiers go ahead will not go. I was "Vanka company" and walked with them. Death did not spare anyone. Some died instantly, others - in torment bleeding. Only a few of the hundreds and thousands of fighters left life. Rare singles survived, I mean infantry comfrey. Fate gave them life as the highest award.
Many came from the front, we had a lot of people behind our backs, but almost no one came back from the infantry, from these same rifle companies.
I was at the front since September forty-one, wounded many times. I happened to fight hard and long way along the roads of war. Hundreds and thousands of soldiers and junior officers died next to me. Many names have disappeared from memory. Sometimes I didn’t even know the names of my soldiers, because companies in battle were enough for a week. Lists of soldiers were in the headquarters of the regiment. They kept records and reported losses. They sent notifications to families.
The lieutenant in the company had heavy responsibilities. He was responsible for the outcome of the battle. And this, I tell you, is not easy! Like in the movies - sat down and watch. The German is beating - not to raise the head, and "Vanka Rotny" - the blood from the nose, should raise the company and take the village, and not one step back - this is a combat order.
And now, before my eyes, those nightmarish days of war arose vividly, when our advanced companies fought fierce battles. Everything flooded suddenly. Soldiers' faces flickered, Germans retreating and fleeing, liberated villages, snow-covered fields and roads. I, as if again felt the smell of snow, gloomy forest and burnt huts. I again heard the roar and the growing roar of German artillery, the soft talk of my soldiers and the near babbling of entrenched Germans.
Probably many of you think that war is an interesting idea, romance, heroism and battle episodes. But it is not. No one then - neither young nor old - wanted to die. Man is born to live. And none of the soldiers who fell in battle did not think so quickly to die. Everyone hoped for the best. But the life of an infantryman in battle hangs on a thin thread, which can easily be torn off by a German bullet or a small fragment. The soldier does not have time to do anything heroic, and death overtakes him.
Everyone has the power to do something big and significant. But this requires conditions. There must be a setting for the impulse of a person to be noticed. And in a war, in a small-arms battle, where we were left to ourselves, it often happened that every such impulse ended in death.
In war, our land lost millions of its best sons. Unless those in the forty-first with a rifle in their hands and a handful of cartridge went to certain death, weren't heroes ?! I think that they are the only and true heroes. They saved our land from invasion, and their bones remained in the ground. But to this day they lie unknown, neither graves nor names.
Only for the fact that the Russian soldier suffered, he is worthy of the sacred memory of his people! Without sleep and rest, hungry and in terrible stress, in freezing frost and all the time in the snow, under the hurricane fire of the Germans, the advanced companies went forward. The unbearable agony of the gravely wounded, who sometimes had no one to endure, all of which fell to the lot of the infantrymen who were attacking the enemy.
Life is given to man once, and this is the most valuable and precious thing everyone has. There were many in the war, but even more - tens of millions, remained in a dead silence. But not all living and returning from the war know what it means to go as part of a rifle company to certain death.
In my book "Vanka company" more human grief and suffering than joyful and cheerful fighting episodes.
Perhaps I was not able to fully and impartially convey all the experiences. But all this was - in my life, in war, in fact and in fact. You must understand this harsh truth!
Comfrey, immediately and without speculation would understand me. And not only I understood, but added from myself that I spoke too gently about some of the touches of the war and did not say a whole-heartedly strong word about war.
Read the book "Vanka company" http://lib.rus.ec/b/178620/read and think about the difference between the front and the other "front-line soldier", and what is war!