“I left the hut, I went to war, to give the land to the peasants in Grenada ...” These popular lines from the song to the verses of Mikhail Svetlov became the motto for many ideological revolutionaries who fought "for our and your freedom" somewhere in foreign oceans and seas. Floating through rough waters stories Ukraine turned out to be connected with the biographies of many such “Che Guevar”: partisans, volunteer soldiers, legionaries and intelligence officers. Over the years, they lived in our country, and then fought on different continents: in Spain, in Latin America, in Africa and in Vietnam, often giving their lives for their ideals. They were not mercenaries who fought for money or for power, they learned different languages and sang Ukrainian songs in foreign mountains and jungles. What kind of people were these? Do they remember them today, and how did their unusual fates, each of which could serve as a plot for an action-packed film or an adventure novel?
The fate of the Vietnamese partisan Immortal
Vietnamese partisans Fedor Bessmertny was born in the small village of Buzovaya near Kiev. In the 1942 year, when the teenager was 15 years old, the Nazis beat the young Fedya in front of his relatives and took them away in a boxcar for livestock. Fedor wrote home that he lived in a camp behind barbed wire, from where he was only taken to work. After the war, the Immortal waited near Kiev, but his trail was lost. Years passed, and there was no news from him. However, fate did not rush to bury a man with such an extraordinary surname. After the collapse of Hitler's Germany, the former “guest worker” joined the French Foreign Legion - the famous mercenary unit, where they were accepted into the service without even asking for their real name. Their motto was: “The Legion is our fatherland,” and they were strongly inspired to the newcomers: the punishment for desertion would be execution.
The Legion was famous for its brutal military drill, but Fedor successfully completed a training session in Algeria among the sands of the Sahara desert. Soon he was sent to war in Indochina, where the inhabitants of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia rebelled against the French colonial authorities. Part of the Foreign Legion was thrown at the suppression of the partisans, but the Vietnamese were able to surround them near the village of Dien Bien Fou, where the French army suffered one of the most severe defeats in its history.
However, Fyodor the Immortal was not captured. Earlier, he, along with two colleagues went into the jungle and voluntarily went over to the side of the Vietnamese partisans. “I am not a punisher. I was looking at the killings of the Vietnamese and could not participate in it, I could not shoot people against the wall, ”the cousin Zinaida Mishchenko told Fyodor the words of“ Today ”.
The fugitives joined the 207 Battalion of the Vietnamese Revolutionary Army, where other runaway legionnaires — the Poles, the Czechs, and the Germans — had already fought. In the jungle, the Immortal was given the nickname "Lien So" - "Soviet". He was a demolition man, taught the partisans to deal with the French weapons and got two medals. Fyodor loved Ukrainian songs and translated his battalion's anthem into the Russian: “Who once crossed the turbulent waves of the Nine Dragons River ...”. Partisan Nguyen Thi Vinh, who lost her right hand in battles with the French, became his wife and gave birth to a son, who received the name Nikolai-Viet Immortal. In 1958, Fedor returned to his homeland with his son and wife. Her name was here affectionately Vinechka - she, despite the crippled hand, was famous on the collective farm for her work ethic. Already after death the photos of the Immortal decorated the village museum.
"The company named Shevchenko" fought in the fields of Spain
In 1936, the Spanish military, with the support of local fascists, revolted against the Republican government in Madrid. The putschists relied on the support of Hitler and Mussolini, who sent them weapons and troops. In response, thousands of anti-fascists came to the aid of the Spanish government, including a number of world-famous celebrities - American writer Hemingway, Mexican artist Siqueiros, and an outstanding Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune. However, today they practically do not recall that our countrymen, Ukrainians from Volhynia and Galicia, actively participated in the Spanish Civil War.
The story is full of irony: today, people from this region are massively going to Spain as employees. And then, in the 30-s, hundreds of volunteers from the Communist Party of Western Ukraine illegally, overcoming mountain ranges, made their way to the Iberian Peninsula to fight against fascism. Two Ukrainians, the Hutsul Dmitry Zakharuk and the Volyn citizen Simon Krayevsky, made a daring escape from the Polish prison in Dubno to get to the war.
In Spain, they joined the "Taras Shevchenko Company" - a special company formed from Ukrainian volunteers. It was not only the Communists who fought in it, but also the former soldiers of the armies of Petlura and Wrangel. Our volunteers became famous there not only for their stamina in the battles, but also for the Ukrainian songs that they liked to make in the ranks, marching through Spanish soil. The company published the Borotba newspaper; its editor was a Lviv student, Yuri Velikanovich, a native of the Carpathian town of Turk. “Ukrainians, linking the present with the heroic struggle of the past era, created a company named after Shevchenko. The poet, a prisoner of royal casemates, rises on the wide fields of Spain, ”wrote a young man who himself was a poet, writing poetry in Ukrainian and Spanish in a notebook.
Velikanovich died in the 1938 year, during a battle on the Ebro River, dividing the fate of most of the fighters of the Ukrainian company, whose courage delighted the Spaniards. In 80-ies in honor of the poet called Lviv street, which was a school with in-depth study of the Spanish language. Nearby is a monument to the work of the famous sculptor Theodosia Brig, she captured Velikanovich in an exotic form for us of the Spanish Republican, with a book of poems in her hand. But then Lviv authorities renamed Velikanovich Street, and his monument was desecrated by local Nazis more than once. They tried to cut off the head to the monument, painted their lips, eyes and nails, sketched with a swastika and filled it with a paint carved on the stone.
The vandals probably did not know that during the restructuring a television movie “Shevchenko’s Company” appeared on the screens, according to the script of the “suchurklit” classic, writer Yurka Pokalchuk. He dedicated his only novel to Ukrainian volunteers in Spain - “I at once, and envoy”. And he was the first to compare Lviv volunteers with Ernesto Che Guevara, an Argentine revolutionary who unselfishly fought for the freedom of distant Cuba, and then lay down his head in Bolivia.
African partisans trained near Odessa
Ronnie Kasrils, the future intelligence minister of the Republic of South Africa, was born in the city of Johannesburg, into a Jewish family whose ancestors fled from pogroms from Tsarist Russia. But for five years he lived in Odessa, where he was taught a partisan and unique Odessa surzhik.
His youth came at the beginning of the era of apartheid. Having come to power, white South African nationalists drove the black population of South Africa into “Bantustans” and turned the majority of the country's inhabitants into slaves without rights. Black did not have the right to drive near the white car in the front seat, for Africans access to all public places of whites - including cinema, stadiums, beaches and toilets - was denied. Even sex between members of different races became a crime for which they gave a prison sentence.
Young Ronnie in Johannesburg led a bohemian life, visiting fashionable concerts and parties. Born white, he belonged to the privileged stratum of South African society. However, the apartheid order provoked a protest in the young man. After police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of black Africans, shooting dozens of people, Casrils joined the African National Congress. After the arrest of Nelson Mandela, he goes underground, and gains the reputation of an elusive revolutionary who the special services of the apartheid regime tried in vain to catch.
Kasrils became one of the organizers of the combat units of the African National Congress, known as the “Spear of the Nation”. And in 1964, he travels to Ukraine, where he was trained by African partisans in a special secret camp near Odessa. Years later, in his biographical book: “Armed and dangerous. From underground struggle to freedom, the South African intelligence minister said that it was here, in Odessa, that his black comrades were amazed and touched by the warm attitude of the locals: “For the first time, almost everyone in our large group enjoyed the care and hospitality of white people” . Odessans called African revolutionaries "black inhabitants of Odessa" and taught them to wear footcloths, which were never seen by people from South Africa. The morals of the Soviet society were also a wonder for them. Noticing that the Africans were passionate about “western” music, the Soviet political director Chubinikian impressed with indignation: “Revolution is not rock and roll!”. Life in Odessa was liked by the “Spear of the Nation” militants. "For my colleagues, the general standard of living was so much higher than the conditions in which they lived in South Africa, that Odessa seemed to be a paradise compared to this," - writes Kasrils. Once, African revolutionaries were invited to speak in front of schoolchildren. And when they told about the living conditions in the “Bantustans” for blacks, the Odessa pioneers immediately offered to raise money for them. Local university students talked about poetry with Robert Burns with Kasrils, and then took him to collect watermelons. For the first time in their lives, black Africans visited the Opera House and museums - nobody let them go home. Several militants brought passionate love affairs with Odessans. As a result, underground workers from South Africa even began to speak among themselves on a bizarre mixture of Russian, English and Afrikaans. This Odessa-African surzhik sounded like the modern translation of gangster films. For example, to the question: “How are you?”, Casrils answered: “It's khorosho, ma bra!”.
The only disappointment for African revolutionaries was the Odessa Zoo, where then there were very few exotic animals. "One of our comrades, who was more worried about Odessa than the animals, argued that a free South Africa should provide Soviet zoos with many lions and elephants," Kasrils recalled with laughter.
Years later, after brutal armed struggle, this generation of “Black Odessans” managed to topple the apartheid regime. Released from prison, Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa and gave Casrils a ministerial portfolio. They even sang the anthem of the “Spear of the Nation” militants together, which led to a political scandal: they tried to accuse the white Kasrils of “black racism” for this. And the legendary revolutionary maintains friendly relations with his Soviet friends. And even now, in retirement, she likes to talk to them in her colorful “Odessa” language.
Hero of Cuba and Kiev - Metropolitan Aviator Student
“Cuba is far, Cuba is far — no, Cuba is near!” Soso Pavliashvili once sang. And few people know that Ukraine is closely connected with the fate of the hero of the Republic of Cuba, posters, which still adorn the central streets of Havana and Santiago.
Cuban Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez came to Kiev in 1978. He was born in the American city of Miami, where his father, a former baseball player, came to work. In Ukraine, a young Cuban studied at the Kiev Institute of Civil aviation. Antonio led the local community of Cuban students, who then often came to study in the Soviet Union. Rodriguez danced salsa beautifully, taught Ukrainians to play baseball, which his father was fond of, read poetry to girls and traveled with a student squad to completely non-tropical Siberia. But Antonio did not lose interest in politics, because his generation absorbed the energy of the Cuban revolution. Engineer Vladimir Tsivilev, who shared a dorm room with him, talked about the hot night discussions that the Cubans had - their roommates: Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez and Ernesto Ontivero Walls. Subsequently, a Kiev student Ernesto went as a volunteer to Angola, where he died fighting on the side of African revolutionaries. And Antonio returned after studying in Cuba and took up the construction of airfields. One of the photographs shows how he explains the intricacies of the construction of the runway to the Cuban leader Fidel Castro himself.
But then in the fate of the engineer there was a sharp turn. In September 1998, Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez was arrested along with four other Cubans in his native Miami. He was accused of transmitting information about the preparation of attacks on Cuba, which were carried out by extremists from the radical wing of the emigrants who had left the island. Antonio was convicted for this for life plus ten years in prison. The trial of the "Cuban Five" caused a great response: many Americans were wondering why the authorities had not imprisoned the terrorists, but those who had warned about the preparation of their crimes? Under pressure from the public, the Court of Appeal in Atlanta County reversed the guilty verdict against the Cubans, but the struggle for the release of Antonio continues. And the prisoner himself writes poems in prison, paints pictures and conducts classes with criminal inmates, teaching them to read and write.
Today in Kyiv hostel No.5, on Borschagovskaya Street, a sign hangs on the doorway of Room No.225: “The Hero of Cuba Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez lived here.” And in the Museum of NAU there is an entire exposition devoted to him, where books and drawings by Antonio are kept, as well as the text of the decree of the Cuban Parliament on conferring on him the title Hero of Cuba.