Military Review

The Edge of Front-End Being (Soldiers Memoirs of Peter Vshivkov)

At the present stage of the study of the Great Patriotic War, the topic of frontline everyday life becomes one of the preferred ones for researchers. This is due to the displacement of the vector of knowledge from military events to internal "human" factors of opposition and sources of overcoming an seemingly invincible enemy. An important condition for scientific understanding of the problem is the formation of a true systemic complex of sources over the past decades. One of the most appropriate means of describing the common and typical in the life of a warrior in the front are diary entries and post-war memories. The authors, having personally experienced the events, describe them either “without delay”, or after years and decades.

The Edge of Front-End Being (Soldiers Memoirs of Peter Vshivkov)

The purpose of the article is to analyze certain aspects of the frontline everyday life in the memoirs of the front-line soldier Peter Matveyevich Vshivkov.
This source was found by us in the process of working on the project “Oral история: man in the daily life of the twentieth century. The author of the memories died at the turn of the 1990-s, leaving the manuscript in the family of the son of Peter Petrovich Vshivkov.

Memories are a handwritten book sewn from individual school notebooks with white and black threads, thin wire with a total 1062 volume of a handwritten text page written with a ballpoint pen of various shades of blue.

The text of the manuscript is generally readable, the font is large, slightly inclined to the right. Memories are written as literary raw text, with multiple grammatical and spelling errors. This results from the fact that the author had an incomplete primary education and working professions.

Vshivkov Petr Matveyevich was born in 1923 in the village of Zherbatikha, Kuraginsky District, Krasnoyarsk Territory, in a peasant family. From 1941, he was mobilized into the ranks of the Red Army, where he stayed until 1947. He served in the 1667 page battalion, 456 page regiment and 134 guards. page shelf gunner and light machine gun. Military ranks: Red Army soldier, ml. sergeant, sergeant.

The text of the memories contains a description of life from the first childhood memories and impressions of the second half of the 1920-s to 1979, with an additional section of the 1988-89's. Reading the manuscript allows you to talk about the author's vision of his life as three lives: pre-war, the period of the Great Patriotic War and post-war life. The author writes about everything that happened in their family, in the circle of relatives, in his biography, in the country and in local territories of residence. Peter Matveyevich described his life truthfully, without embellishing, not hiding unpleasant episodes. She tries to explain and motivate her actions, to analyze, after many decades, from the standpoint of the general psychology of time and from the standpoint of an older person, wisely experienced.

The nature of the war in the memoirs of Peter Vshivkova appears not only in repelling German aggression, ideological opposition, but evidence of the inhuman actions of the enemy. “On the edge of Krasnoselsk, we approached the well to drink water. When the cover was torn off, we saw a terrible instead of water. A full well was nakidan by our Soviet children aged from about three to seven years ... And in the well there were such small children boys and girls, they were not shot, but in the living cap knocked over by each other and the upper ones were covered with a lid and stuck with death ... horror ached my heart, the caps on each fighter's head rose ... The hearts of the fighters and officers seized the hearts of such horror ... We swore to avenge the enemies for them ... " At the same time, the author of the memoirs appears as a typical person of the Soviet era, a patriot, an ideologically formed social system, an environment, an ideology. He recognizes the role of commanders and political workers in maintaining the fighting spirit of the fighters.

The author does not hide the fact that the laws of wartime, severity and ruthlessness with respect to manifestations of cowardice, looting, insubordination to orders and orders of commanders were essential. “It was here that they exposed him: he made a“ self-shot ”in his hand through bread, in order not to defend his Motherland from the enemy, but to lie down in a hospital. And when he was brought to the edge of the pit, he was pale, wept and asked for forgiveness. But the major said: “The raw earth will forgive. According to the traitor to the homeland, the fire ”, - and shot him from the revolver, he fell down buried him. And we sat smoking while waiting for an ambulance. ”

Or another episode, no less significant: “Then the major head of the medical battalion approached the major of the medical service, instructed him on the gun, turned white and said:“ Either take the wounded and help them faster, or get nine grams. In general, choose any or-or "...

Only then did he order the sisters to accept us and help us to render. ”

The text reveals the idea of ​​mutual responsibility of the soldiers and an understanding of front-line ruthlessness for the sake of survival: “And if the German pilot notices a burning cigarette, one of the negligent fighters might die. Therefore, there was a very strict order on non-smoking. ”

It is obvious to us that the direction of the front everyday in the analysis of events, the material context, the peculiarities of communications in situations of extremity, in the mental characteristics of the subjects is fundamentally different from the everyday life of the pre-war, rear, and even front-line. She is purely individual for a warrior by the nature of the military, specialty, gender, position and rank, and even, the time of year and the nature of the terrain. But it can be typical in a certain set of situations of defense, offensive, reconnaissance, hospital, march, eating, washing, sleeping, etc.

Military service as a professional occupation and lifestyle, not in any comparison does not go with the obligation to kill "their own kind" ... But the process of deprivation of life takes place in the conditions of organizing the environment of the line of contact of the warring parties. Therefore, front-line life is real life, in which everything human in all manifestations of “labor” and rest, leisure and holidays, the social hierarchy, feelings and emotions, the fear of death and overcoming it continue to persist.

Thus, it is not by chance that we noted labor as a component of military life. Work is not only to create the infrastructure of the front, but also work as a process of creating a "victory." A simple soldier Vshivkov appears before us in memories at once in two guises: a peasant and a soldier. Very colorful, and exactly rural, the author gives a psychological assessment of the war by Russian soldiers from the standpoint of their world outlook.

“And from afar it seemed to be a glow, and [sounds] could be heard, as it used to be before the war, like during threshing. (Note at the bottom of the page: "The earth was shuddering, the shells were torn"). And instead of a burning bonfire of straw, it burned something ignited by incendiary projectiles. The earth shuddered and moaned abruptly. “But they are threshing,” said an elderly sergeant, jokingly, trying to amuse the fighters. “Let this threshing start again,” said another, short, junior lieutenant. “Yes, this thrashing has not stopped yet,” said the senior lieutenant. “And when this threshing will stop,” said the sergeant. "But when he thrashes all the fields, the drum will stop buzzing." And they all laughed.

[-] Yes, the sergeant rightly said that .. "

It is far from accidental that professional-language phrases invariably appear in award representations of the Central Department of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation: “he works as a deputy platoon commander for political purposes”, “working in the operational group for the delivery of ammunition”, “working as a signalman”, “working as a driver”, etc. .
In all sections of the manuscript, there is a clear conviction in the rightness of Soviet power, in the inevitability and regularity of the victory over fascism, in the construction of socialism and communism. The arguments of the author are constantly preceded by questions about the meanings of life and their fate.

In the memoirs Vshivkova constantly raises the question of fatality, the predestination of human destiny. “... a senior sergeant was walking towards us, to the right on a different path, and suddenly he melted, but there was an explosion, apparently a direct hit on the chest hit a stray fascist projectile. And from the sergeant we found nothing, no signs. Just came to the place, took off their hats, after a pause for a couple of minutes, then sighed. And the captain said, "Yes, that’s how the dead are."

Especially often the author talks about fatality, remembering himself after the second injury. He already seems to see others from the outside, assessing their future: “And it is unlikely that anyone from my company will remain unscathed,” I thought. Often we see the “scrolling” of the event in the subjunctive mood: “Even the heart has pinched everyone. But how we managed, and if this was a misfortune, and if another German would have traveled from any direction, and all of us would have been the end of everything. ”
Looking back, the veteran repeatedly emphasizes his significance in the war for victory in his memoirs, stresses, even with pride, that he was in the infantry: “Then again the battle. Again infantry ahead. Infantry first meets all. And bullets and shells mines and bombs, for the essence of the infantry. " “For infantry, one thing is important, overcome yourself, stand up and move forward. When a red rocket is served, not heroes and not cowards, but in our hearts, everyone must have been excited about their hearts. ”

In the memoirs, the author constantly returns to one or another aspect of front-line unity, regardless of age, social status, nationality. Here is the episode most fully revealing both personal position and admiration for what he saw: “And among them is running one fighter; He has a right-hand rifle in his hand, and a full pot of porridge in his left hand. “Throw some porridge though,” said the senior lieutenant. It was not a Russian fighter, an Uzbek, and answered poorly in Russian. “Nat tavarish senior letenan, we will eat my food. There will be no time to eat there, the battle goes, do you hear? My after the fight will be eaten ", and ran forward. “This is the insistent devil,” said another officer, the captain.

The author considers combat experience, military skills and abilities to be important conditions for survival in war. “Here are young people, stupid still young. German will kill you. How to cut the cabbage. That's why the lieutenant says: “You guys look after the old front-line soldiers. What will they do in battle and you take them as an example. So you will understand better, and then you will learn all front-line habits, and actions in battles ... ”

It is also important that Peter Vshivkov grew up in the Siberian outback and used what he learned from childhood in the realities of the front. “It was damp in the trench, water was in some places at the bottom of the trench. Nearby was not a big coniferous forest. With my calculation of the easel machine gun I broke down the branches of the needles, laid it on the bottom of the trench, it became dry and a little warmer even. The company commander banged my hand on the shoulder jokingly and said: "Well done, see the taiga guy, you." “Yes, Comrade Captain,” I replied. And all the men of the company followed our example. ”

The situation of people at the forefront was aggravated by the difficulties of everyday nature. Especially in the first stage of the war there were problems with the food of the soldiers. In Vshivkov's memoirs, the problem is given, but how it was solved, one can only guess: “The foreman brought four crackers for each fighter said:“ But here’s the last, even eat it at once, save for an unknown time, the products run out ”.

Or, an important note that most wanted to sleep in a war. “I, in the first place, did not believe my comrades that you could walk on your feet and sleep on the go. I was convinced. I had to try it myself. You pinch your forehead to a comrade walking ahead of you, wake up, and fall asleep again ... ”.

The soldiers' memories of Peter Vshivkov are truthful in their vivid informativeness, the absence of “lacquering” situations, attempts to smooth out the unpleasant and even immoral. In separate episodes, reality borders on sheer surrealism. “One senior sergeant came from the front line. His left arm was missing from the elbow, was all bandaged. He was bandaged, pulled up with a harness. He asked them to dig a small hole. And when the hole was ready, he took out his left hand, cut off by a German shell, from the coat of his overcoat with his right hand and kissed it. Then he asked to wrap it in paper, put it in a hole. Then the sergeant asked to bury. Then he carved a column in the form of a bedside table, On which words were written, from the words of the owner of the hand. "In the battles for the proud, Narva left Nikolai Nikolayevich Nikolaev with his left hand (on the brush)." He went to the grave of his hand. There were tears in his eyes. ”

Or the second similar plot, unrealized due to the stressful situation for a twenty-year-old fighter. “After the battle, the lieutenant asked me:“ And what did the sergeant shout about, what happened to you? And I started telling how and what happened. On the other side of the clearing lay a German killed on his back with arms and legs spread to the side and eyes open. His eyes were blue or frost white. I ran quickly, stumbled with my feet on his legs, dropped his stomach on his belly and, with a strong blow, touched his lips to his lips, as if I kissed a dead Fritz. He was killed long ago and he already smelled. And apparently from such a terrible disgust for some reason I screamed And my comrades in intelligence all laughed and even spat .. ".

A case occurred in the territory of Latvia with Vshivkov and his comrades, which he characterizes with the words: "In war, and this has happened."

“On the mountain, we were quickly. Then we hear and even see our two planes Il 2 flying. And they thought we were Germans and went pounding, one set and then the other, the third. There were many wounded and even dead. Red rocket can not be filed, the Germans will expose immediately. Give a green rocket, planes doodol. But the regiment guessed it, the planes unfurled the banner of the regiment only then they understood. Flew away. But it was impossible to go on the offensive, because the planes knocked out how many soldiers down. ”

The most tragic in the memoirs of Peter Matveyevich refers to the May days of 1945. Their 134 Guards Rifle Regiment completed the defeat of the enemy's Courland grouping from 9 to May 21. “And when we reached the sea, there were few people left in our company, only four fighters, three sergeants, three officers and a foreman ... We had the last to die in the fighter Zakharenko. before reaching the sea at five paces, and generally in the company there were eleven personnel left out of one hundred and eighty people during these fighting eleven sleepless days. ” In each line of memories, pain is felt for those who died in the war after the war ...

You can continue to talk about the memories of PM. Vshivkov, but the format of the article does not allow to consider all aspects of front-line life. But it is possible to trace along them the arrangement of the trench and dugouts, the daily routine during the respite and in the combat situation, the order of arrival of replenishment or withdrawal of fighters to the rear for rest, soldier entertainment, humor and jokes.

The author gives accurate characteristics to his comrades and commanders, shows the relationship between them. After many years he compares the change in the morale of Soviet soldiers and the enemy over the course of four years of war.

The relevance of Sergeant Vshivkova’s memories goes to the more significant problem of preserving the testimony of the participants of the Great Patriotic War. Memories, diaries, notes, letters are invaluable for future generations, for researchers. They allow you to look at events through the eyes of subjects of history, to understand their thoughts, assessments, motivation of actions, the role of the front-line stage in the further fate of former participants in the war. Here are revealed those aspects of history that cannot be found anywhere else, can only be assumed and interpreted.
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  1. qwert
    qwert 5 May 2016 07: 05
    I read it with interest. But, commenting is difficult. I hope there will be a continuation.
    1. andjusev
      6 May 2016 07: 27
      Dear Edward! I put up a continuation of these materials. From the memoirs of Peter Vshivkov "War after the war". On the hostilities in Courland from 9 to 21 May 1945. See:
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 5 May 2016 07: 23
    Thank you ... The publication is not planned ..? It would be very cool ... Memoirs, those who trampled our land the shelves are littered .. but there are few you will meet ...
    1. lukke
      lukke 5 May 2016 14: 20
      but there are few of them
      Yes, not all front-line infantrymen became writers. At one time, the work (in fact, the same notes of a front-line soldier) - "Vanka company" (there is an electronic version in the internet), left indifferent. The literary language of the author was "not combed", but without censorship, but the information on the everyday life of that time and in general many details struck.
    2. andjusev
      5 May 2016 19: 13
      Dear Alexey! From the moment this manuscript fell into my hands, the desire to publish with lengthy comments and clarifications based on scientific data remains. The consent of relatives to the publication in the form of a book is available. The printing house of our university manuscript P.M. Vshivkova was glued, stitched and bound in a hard cover made of artificial leather. In this form, the safety will be ensured for a long time .. We made photocopying, and students at the faculty typed computer text while preserving the author's style and spelling.
  3. Military Builder
    Military Builder 5 May 2016 07: 43
    And in the well there were such small children, boys and girls, they weren’t shot, but in live ones, they were crushed by each other and the top ones were closed by a lid and dead of death ... Such a horror ached my heart, a cap was lifted on the head of every soldier ... The hearts of soldiers and officers were pinched from such horror ... We vowed to take revenge on the enemies for them ... "

    and after that, different cities tell us about the cruelty of Soviet soldiers in Europe, about raped German women
    1. Mareman Vasilich
      Mareman Vasilich 5 May 2016 09: 28
      That's what freaks are, comrade.
  4. Kenneth
    Kenneth 5 May 2016 08: 24
    Very interesting are the memoirs of Nekrasov. A wonderful selection of memories was collected by Drabkin.
    1. Eugene
      Eugene 5 May 2016 19: 53
      I especially appreciate two books. About the war, God forbid, of course. "All Quiet on the Western Front", Remarque (Barbusse is resting). And Nekrasov- "In the trenches of Stalingrad." Yes, there are many good works, of course. But the trench litigation there seems to be , best laid out.
    2. bocsman
      bocsman 5 October 2016 19: 50
      Quote: Kenneth
      Very interesting are the memoirs of Nekrasov. A wonderful selection of memories was collected by Drabkin.

      Here I am about that there is a site "I remember" where the very place of the memories of Comrade. Vshivkin. When I first came across this site I was just delighted with the fact that ordinary people in simple, understandable language described what they experienced in the war. Without officialdom, without propaganda, so you believe! After all, any man who has experience in life can distinguish where the truth is and where the lie. It is clear that those of us who have not been in combat conditions cannot fully realize the whole truth or reality, if you like. But this is everyone's business. Therefore, I appeal to the author of the article, publish the memoirs on a site accessible to many and leave everyone who reads to draw conclusions about how the author of the memoirs treated certain events!
  5. Uncle Murzik
    Uncle Murzik 5 May 2016 09: 16
    I regret one thing while my paternal and maternal grandfathers were still alive, I was small and did not say thank you for the victory! both came from the war, both were wounded, I found their award lists on the site "feat of the peoples"! thanks to the author
    1. Eugene
      Eugene 5 May 2016 19: 57
      At mother’s house is a letter from the Polish Red Cross, signed by Janos Pszymanovsky (Four tankmen and a dog) .... your father is buried here and there ... My grandfather a month fought, under Koenigsberg ...
  6. aleks.29ru
    aleks.29ru 5 May 2016 16: 31
    From military literature I prefer the memoirs of ordinary soldiers. The truth is in them.
  7. Romin
    Romin 5 May 2016 21: 59
    But I’ve been thinking for a long time about why documentary films, still black and white films about the Russian one, disappeared from the screens. I remember in childhood showed them regularly. Interesting, informative. Comments on films and voiced by famous actors of Soviet cinema.
    Where did they go? One sleepless ... thriving.
    Somehow we are embarrassed by our story, all of which is inconvenient to talk about both exploits and life and pain ... Pain must not be forgotten ... So that, in two thousandths, God forbid, do not open the wells full of our dead children ...
    The same Germans are now yelling at full speed that our soldiers raped German women, they are making films. They forgot how they hanged ours, burned them, mocked them and simply killed them. So it is necessary to remind yourself in the first place, and by this. Otherwise, we are embarrassed ... we have brothers around us and partners ... we have a strange internal policy, like "Ivan does not remember kinship." Yes, and on the same rake ... It's a shame and painful for the generations that have passed away for us ...
    And I can’t help but recall the zigzag geeks with swastikas on banners and tattoos on the streets of our cities, generation 80-90s. Overlapping with imperial flags. Natsik, brown stinking substance.
    How quickly we forget our story and with our silence, inaction spit ourselves in the well
  8. del77
    del77 11 May 2016 22: 33
    Quote: andjusev
    Dear Edward! I put up a continuation of these materials. From the memoirs of Peter Vshivkov "War after the war". On the hostilities in Courland from 9 to 21 May 1945. See:


    Sorry, but how to read the continuation? The link gives an error.
    1. andjusev
      12 May 2016 08: 16
      I sent the article, then I corrected the mistakes of the author of the memoirs, now I'm waiting for the moderators to post to the network .. If anything, write to the email. mail, I will send the text. You can easily find the address in the Yandex search engine. Sincerely, B.E.