Former Soviet Union: Family War Stories

For three years, LJ user aurinko25 has been collecting links to family war stories posted by Russophone bloggers – May 9, 2005; May 9, 2006; May 9, 2007.

It's an overwhelming collection, full of raw, genuine history, full of life, death and heartbreak.

Trying to pick something for translation turned out to be very difficult: so many of these texts deserve to be showcased – and, at the same time, they have to remain part of a continuous narrative.

I ended up choosing two brief posts that date back to 2004 and 2005 – both written by bloggers who live in the United States now.

LJ user modern-timesMay 10, 2004 (RUS):

My father was drafted during his fourth year of medical school. Actually, it was the fifth-year curriculum, because when the war started, they took a quick course, two years in one. He left for the front as a paratrooper medical doctor and reached all the way to Austria.

When they were stationed in Hungary, a local peasant came asking for help. He was trying to explain something, anxiously, and they understood that someone was ill and needed help.

When papa and another doctor arrived at the peasant's house, it turned out that it was his wife who was giving birth. Neither papa, nor his fellow-serviceman have ever assisted during deliveries, but it all went well, a healthy boy was born, everyone drank some [slivovitsa] to the newborn's health, the happy father asked the names of the newly-made obstetricians, and that was it.

Imagine how surprised my parents were when, 23 years later, they received an invitation to this boy's wedding. They went, of course, and they, of course, were allowed [by the authorities to leave the Soviet Union to attend the wedding in Hungary], and they were received nearly as state dignitaries. And this visit was presented as an example of the unbreakable international friendship. But this is irrelevant, because the peasant was crying and embracing [my parents], and his wife was crying and embracing them, and the boy – the groom at the wedding, that is – was named, it turned out, Sandor Veniamin Rudolf – in honor of his grandfather and the two doctors who delivered him.

LJ user wall4May 9, 2005 (RUS):

When I was little, I liked to go to [Lviv's] Krakow Market with my grandfather. Grandpa Misha used to buy himself a beer and [kvas] for me, and then we leisurely walked around the aisles with vegetables, homemade cottage cheese, and […] poultry. Grandpa touched chicken legs fastidiously and paid compliments to the lively old village women who were trading at the market. And on our way home, we discussed soccer news and grandpa was telling me stories of his difficult life.

Here's one of these stories.

During the war, grandpa found himself in the [Stalingrad] meat-grinder. Once, in the midst of a battle, he was wounded in the head with shrapnel. He was between our and the German positions. Everything around was white because of the snow, blood was streaming all over his face and he couldn't see which way to run. And he moved toward the German trenches. Germans were yelling to him with encouragement, thinking that he was a defector; Russians started shooting, thinking the same thing about him. And suddenly the company's commander, a young [lieutenant], understood what was going on and began guiding grandpa back to our position: “Go left, [damn it]! Further left, and now back!”

Anyway, grandpa got back to him company. They wiped the blood off his face, gave him a gulp of alcohol. And the [lietenant] was killed the following day. And this is making me think – and what if he died a day earlier? would there be anyone to save my grandpa?

That young guy's bones lie in the faraway Volga steppe, and my grandpa Misha is buried at a cozy, tidy cemetery in Connecticut. Rest in peace, dear [guys], and happy Victory Day to You!

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.