The Road to Victory – My Grand-Uncle’s Path from Moscow to Berlin

Exactly 74 years ago, on the 22nd of June 1941 at 4:00 in the morning, Nazi Germany attacked Soviet Union.

This article is a tribute to my grand-uncle, who fought that war from the very first days and until the victorious end. Moreover, it’s a tribute to all 21 million Soviet citizens, who perished in that war, and tens of millions more, who suffered hardships and losses to bring the Victory. It is therefore, when the Western “leaders” refused to attend the Victory parade in Moscow on the 9th of May 2015, they effectively did a dance of glee on the bones of those 21 million perished people, and were perceived by all Russians (and here I use “Russian” in a broad sense, encompassing all 200+ nationalities that live in the Russian Federation, all the normal people of the former USSR, and all the foreigners, who sympathise with Russia) as modern-time Western heirs to Nazism. I previously translated an article, written by the President of the RF, V.V.Putin, describing his family’s struggle in the blockaded Leningrad. In this article here, I will touch upon my own family’s history.

This year the Russian Ministry of Defence launched a new web-site, consolidating, digitalising and geo-tagging all the newly-declassified information about those Soviet citizens, who fought (and died) in WWII, in the Great Patriotic War. The site is aptly called People’s Memory. A good English language article about it can be found at Russia Beyond the Headlines:

The new People’s Memory website, launched by the Russian Defence Ministry, is the largest of its kind in the world. The site, dedicated to those who served on the Eastern Front in World War II, allows users to locate the resting places of soldiers whose burial sites have remained unknown to their relatives until now, as well as acquire knowledge about their military careers.

Knowing my grand-uncle’s name, family name and patronymic, as well as his year of birth, I managed to locate him, and what I learnt, confirmed those disjointed memories I had of him from my childhood. I vaguely remember his face, and more his blazer, covered in orders and medals. He used to visit us in Moscow between 23rd of February and the 10th of May, celebrating Victory Day and meeting with the ever-thinning numbers of his brothers-in-arms. From the stories, re-told by my mother, I knew that he fought in the War as part of a tank division. That he was at one point surrounded, cut off from the main force for several months. That for some time he was presumed dead, until their company managed to reunite with the main force. That at another point he received a heavy concussion, but returned into the ranks. And that he finished the War in Berlin. But not much more. People’s Memory allowed me to go deeper and see his path and the deeds that lead to the awards.

Moiseev Georgij Mihajlovich, born in 1920 in Altai Krai in Siberia. At the age of 18, he was conscripted to the regular service as a tank mechanic. The regular service lasted at that time for 2 years, and in 1941 he would have been demobilised. But so came the War.

My grand-uncle’s given name – Georgij – is in itself fateful. It is connotative of Victory and courage. It is found in Saint George the Victorious (rus.: Georgji Pobedonosec), and in the St.George Ribbon (rus: Georgievskaja lentochka). The latter is the symbol of courage and self-sacrifice, established by Catherine the Great, and carrying the colours of the Russian coat of arms.

georg

According to the People’s Memory, his first battle happened on the 8th of November 1941 in the Orlov-Brjansk operation as part of the 1st Guard’s Tank Brigade. After that he participated in the Battle of Moscow, Battle of Kursk, Proskurovsk-Chernovick operation and liberation of Ukraine, Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive, Vistula–Oder Offensive, and the Battle of Berlin. Judging from the early history, leading to the formation of the 1st Guard’s Tank Brigade, my grand-uncle may have been one of the survivors of either the 15th or the 20th tank divisions, which largely perished during the first months of war and operated as infantry divisions.

The map can be seen below, as geo-tagged by People’s Memory project. The map is showing the path and the points where medals were awarded.
map_updated
Grand-uncle Georgij was awarded 3 Orders of the Red Star and 1 Order of the Great Patriotic War II Class. People’s Memory allows one to view scans of the documents pertaining the awards, and the section detailing the act of heroism especially bring that time back to life. Read on for details about each award.

Орден Красной ЗвездыThe first Order of Red Star was awarded on the 1st of May 1943. The details about this order are not present in the People’s Memory database (yet?), but the information about it can be gleaned from the subsequent orders, as all preceding awards are always listed.

Орден Красной ЗвездыThe second Order of Red Star was awarded on the 22nd of July 1943. Here are the award list carrying grand-uncle Georgij’s name and the personal award sheet, pertaining to it:

Строка в наградном списке

Наградной лист

The section detailing personal battle merit, says:

Comrade Moiseev is a devoted son of the Party of Lenin-Stalin and of the Socialist Motherland. While participating in battles against the German usurpers he displayed bravery and courage. From the 6th until the 10th of July 1943, in the area of villages Jakovlevo and Dubrova, the brigade, where comrade Moiseev is a technical assistant, was conducting an unequal battle with quantitatively superior numbers of the enemy’s tanks. Despite the difficult conditions of the battle, comrade Moiseev took all possible measures to evacuate disabled tanks from the battlefield on to perform timely repairs. During the course of the battle, comrade Moiseev, disregarding any danger, evacuated 7 disabled tanks that were located at the front edge of the defence.
For the dispayed courage, bravery and self-sacrificing work, he is worthy of the Government award of the “Red Star” order.

Commander of the 2nd tank battalion,
Guard Major Vovchenko

Орден Отечественной войны II степениNext he was awarded the Order of the Great Patriotic War II Class. It happened on the 4th of October 1944, and was awarded for the battles near Poryck (today: Pavlovka in Western Ukraine). Here are the first page of the order, the award list carrying grand-uncle Georgij’s name, and the personal award sheet, pertaining to it:

Первая страница приказа или указа

Строка в наградном списке

Наградной лист

The section detailing personal battle merit, says:

Guard Petty Officer Moiseev, during the battalion’s battles in the period from the 14th until the 30th of July 1944 provided the battalion with spare parts for reconstruction and repairs of the damaged tanks, by dismantling them from disabled or burnt tanks on the battlefield. Timely delivery of spare parts ensured quick repair of the tanks and their return into service.

On the 17th of July 1944 in the northern part of town Poryck, 2 of our tanks were stuck in a marsh. One of the tank’s tracks were damaged by enemy fire. Comrade Moiseev, executing the order to retrieve those tanks and to repair the damaged one, crept to the tanks under enemy fire. After 2 hours, Moiseev – while using a manual winch – pulled those tanks out and repaired them. The tanks took part in the capture of the German stronghold, the town of Poryck.

On the 22nd of July 1944, during the crossing of river San, the enemy fire destroyed side blinders and a starter of one of our tanks, and the mechanic was wounded. Comrade Moiseev, taking a starter with him, managed to reach the machine and installed the starter under enemy fire. Then taking controls of the tank, he steered it from under enemy fire for further repairs.

For the excellent execution of the commander’s orders at the front of the fight against the German usurpers, and for display of courage and bravery, Guard Petty Officer Moiseev is worthy of the Government award – Order of the Great Patriotic War II degree.

Commander of the 2nd tank battalion,
Guards Captain Bochkovskij.

Орден Красной ЗвездыThe third Order of Red Star was awarded on the 15th of May 1945 for the Battle of Berlin. Here are the first page of the order, the award list carrying grand-uncle Georgij’s name, and the personal award sheet, pertaining to it:

Первая страница приказа или указа

Строка в наградном списке

Наградной лист

The section detailing personal battle merit, says:

Guard Lieutenant Engineer Moiseev has during a number of battles of 1945 provided the battalion with armour inventory, thus facilitating timely repairs of the disabled tanks and wheel-going vehicles.

Only during the latest assault battles from the 16th of April 1945, Guard Lieutenant Engineer Moiseev, provided repairs to 12 tanks of the battalion, ensuring their participation in the battles leading to the break-though of the fortifications and the approaches to Berlin and in the battles for the city.

Guard Lieutenant Engineer Moiseev, displaying initiative and personal courage and bravery, dismounted spare parts from the tanks on the battlefield, ensuring early rapiers the tanks.

On the 28th of April 1945, Guard Lieutenant Engineer Moiseev evacuated from the battlefield 2 disabled tanks and conducted early repairs.

For the timely provisioning of the battalion with spare parts during battles and for successful execution of the battle objectives encompassing evacuation of the tanks from the battlefield, Guard Lieutenant Engineer Moiseev is worthy of the Government award Order of the Red Star

Commander of the 2nd tank battalion,
Guard Captain Nechtajlo

Grand-uncle Georgij not only returned from the War, but lived a long and worthy life. But the shadow of War was always over him – my mother told me about him saying how he often had nightmares from those gruesome 4 years… He died in 2000.

And as post-scriptum, his sister – my grandmother, Elizaveta – also lived all her life, touched by the War. She was a civilian, working long 16 hour shifts, having little to eat. And ironically, the worst curse came from what was supposed to be help. The American Lend-Lease – a “help” that USSR paid through its nose for – brought a lot of dated food rations, which US Army could no longer use. These rations were distributed among civilians, and one such box of Spam ended up with my grandmother, giving her a severe poisoning. Her liver was damaged for life, and she lived since then on strict diets, being limited to what she could and could not eat…

Nikolay Starikov: Estonia should pay back the money, for which Peter the Great bought it from Sweden 300 years ago

English translation reblogegd from:
http://fortruss.blogspot.no/2015/06/nikolay-starikov-estonia-should-pay.html

Original Russian text:
http://партиявеликоеотечество.рф/nikolaj-starikov-pust-estoniya-vernyot-dengi-za-kotorye-pyotr-i-vykupil-eyo-u-shvetsii

Nikolay Starikov

The Great Fatherland Party blog

Translated by Kristina Rus

Estonia presented claims for parts of Russia. The other day this Baltic country has declared its intention to unilaterally markup the border with Russia. In the temporary control zone on the border with Russian Federation it plans to install 760 pillars and 412 buoys on the water border. Estonian lawmakers cite the Treaty of Tartu of 1920, according to which Estonia has territorial claims against Russia and claims parts of Pskov region. According to the leader of the party “The Great Fatherland”, Nikolay Starikov, Estonia has selective historic memory, but if you dig deeper, you find that it still belongs to Russia on legal grounds.

Nikolay Starikov:

“We are asked to respect the international law all the time. It’s a great idea, and I totally agree with that. All we need is to determine from what historical moment we need to start honoring it.

In 1913, Estonia and Latvia were the acknowledged territory of the Russian Empire, which they joined under the various treaties, that no one can question. In particular, it is Nystadt Peace of 1721, concluded between Russia and Sweden, by which Peter the Great paid a few million gold talers for those lands, where the modern Estonia and part of Latvia are located.

I would like to ask, when and where our Estonian partners paid back the money we spent on the acquisition of these territories from Sweden? I am not aware of such historical facts.

After the revolution of 1917, which was a violation of law, the Bolsheviks signed a treaty and recognized the independence of Estonia. In 1920, approximately the same way Ukraine received “independence”. Then in 1940, an agreement was signed with the same Estonia, and it became part of the Soviet Union. After its collapse, Estonia gained independence. But the question is, what starting date we should consider to comply with international legislation, as in 1985 the borders of the Soviet Union and the inalienability of Estonia was undisputed, exactly the same as the territory of the Russian Empire in 1913.

Because our partners constantly seek out those contracts, dates and situations that meet their interests, let’s learn from them. My position is as follows: let the Estonians pay back with inflation over the past 300 years the money paid by Peter the Great, and then we will have no more questions for them.”

Russia Means Peace

When leaving Norway from Oslo airport Gardermoen, one could see sayings in various languages, embedded into the floor of the airport departure hall. After several modernisations and upgrades, only a few remain. One of them is in Russian. It reads: “И в чужих странах тот же мир”.

mir
Photo by the author.

I’ll translate it a bit later, please bear with me. First let us look at the last word: “мир”. The Russian word “Mir” is well-known in the Western world thanks to the second Soviet space station, which carried this name. What few of the Westerners realise, is that this word carries two meanings, depending on the context.

It means both “World” and “Peace”.

Coming back to the saying above, it can be translated as both “And in the foreign countries there is the same peace” and “And in the foreign countries there is the same world”. As there is no context here, both meanings apply.

World and Peace. Peace and World. Without peace, there is not world, and world is incomplete without being in the state of peace. That’s Russian philosophy in a nutshell, embedded into the Russian language itself.

Any literate and educated person, would have at least heard, if not read, the monumental work by the great Russian author Leo Tolsoy: “War and Peace”. The English translation of the title does not convey all the depth that Tolstoy put into it. The title in Russian is “Vojna i mir” (“Война и мир”). With the knowledge of the double meaning of the word “mir”, which I described above, my reader will quickly notice that “War and Peace” is only one side of the meaning of the epic work about the First Great Patriotic War of 1812. The other side is: “War and the World”, which is the profound intention of Leo Tolstoy – conveying how war affects people and relations in the world.

Incidentally, there is another Russian world that carries the meaning of “World”: “Свет” (Svet). And it too has two context-defined meanings. It’s other, more frequent, meaning is “Light”…

And Russia is busy trying to build conditions that would bring peace to the world, despite all the spanners that certain Western “partners” throw into the works, trying hard to coax a war. One such peace building work was the recent visit of President Putin to Vatican, meeting with the most powerful (in the quite way) man in the world, the Pope. Lada Ray expertly analysed this meeting in her article Putin’s New Ally: Pope Francis.

And as a postscript: I intentionally chose an English word with two contextual meanings for the title of this article. For even though “Russia” does not mean “Peace”, nevertheless, Russia definitely means peace.