The article below is my translation from Russian of an account of one of the participants of the Victory Parade of 1945, as published in “Argumenty i Fakty” on the 6th of March 2015.
As we locate the still-living participants of the Parade, “AIF” will print their memories. The first word to Stanislav Vasilyevich Lapin – a simple but heroic soldier of the 3rd Belorussian Front.
If not for the war
– I am a kid from Moscow. Year of birth: 1923. At 16 I went to the factory. Got the fourth grade (proficiency). Everything would have been fine if it were not for the war… The factory produced military products. Therefore, for my grade I was given a reservation and was to be to sent, along with the machine, to the Urals. When the equipment was loaded onto the platform, I said, I’ll go for a walk. I left and never returned. Simply put, ran to the front. I could not be worse than all the rest! The very next day I got myself right to fight! Took the oath on November 4, 1941 – and strait to the battle of Volokolamsk. I also took part in the Battle of Moscow. I needed it, because in addition to the general, I had a personal score with Hitler. Before the war I had a girl. I called her “my Sonia”. Her and I loved to go for a walk around Moscow on warm evenings. But we were young and… never kissed. Just sat there and sometimes gently pressed against each other. And then came the war.
I went to the front, and my Sonia went to nursing courses. Then, to the front as well. And once, after a battle I was sitting on a halt. I see a supply cart, and on it – my Sonia. As she saw me, she ran up to me and started kissing me as never before. Our soldiers were looking at us in both envy and joy. And suddenly… a shot – my Sonia shuddered and began to sag in my arms. I cried in fright, and the boys rushed into the forest, where the shot came from. And there they saw a German in Russian boots and fur coat. He tried to escape. One of ours caught up with him and stabbed him with a bayonet. Other Germans who were there, did not have time to react – they too were finished off. Such was the hatred of our guys. Only I just sat there and held my Sonia. And still felt the ghost of her kisses.
After the war I met her mother, who ran up to me and started kissing me as my Sonia back then… But I could not find the strength to tell her how it all happened. And she did not know – she kissed and cried that Sonia was killed. So during the Battler for Moscow I had a personal score with Hitler!
And one more thing… looking for water in a deserted village, we found… a well, jammed with children. Around them lay dead mothers. A child was nailed to the house door with a bayonet… How could have we treated Germans after all that we’ve seen?!
The main medal
I was first wounded near Rzhev in February 42nd. There were heavy battles, neither we could take the Germans, nor they us. It lasted for a long time, until ours prevailed.
In 1943 I was in the Orel-Kursk battle. Here again I was wounded, but lightly, so I quickly returned to the front. That’s infantry for you: to fight, heal the wounds and fight again. My first medal is for the Battle of Kursk. I fought in the infantry from 41st until to 43rd and know first-hand what it means to raise into the attack. When the command is issued, you have to get up and go forward under machine-gun fire, explosions and mortar shells. Next to you your comrades fall, but all the same you go ahead. Forward! It’s simple when told, but it is impossible to get used to. Each attack is a shock and an effort. Artillery helped, the Germans fled. And only then, when catching up with them, you feel you have won this battle, and there is an unexplainable feeling of victory!
Advancements usually occurred during the nights, while the Germans were asleep. We came out of the blue. We were killed, we killed, but we won! That’s the infantry for you. In the 43rd I was retrained and for the battles at Orel I became a mortar oprative. Although I was only a sergeant, I was entrusted to command the mortar platoon. We chose a place near some village, and took up a position, adjusted the mortars in advance, placed guards, and went to sleep. Well… By nature I used to get up early. And here I woke up even earlier, at about five o’clock – wanted to wash my head. Nearby there was a crane-well. It was summer. I pulled out some water, poured it into the helmet and only started to wash, when I heard the hum. Looked at the road, and there down the hill… a whole column of German cars! I threw down my helmet and to the mortars. Fired… And hit from the first shot! Straight into the hood of the front car.
It was correct that we adjusted the aim the previous evening, and did not put off until morning. The Germans did not expect us here. Panic. My guys woke up from my shot. And started firing from all mortars – no one was left! Many did not even have time get out of their cars. That’s where I got the first medal “For Courage”.
The third time I was wounded near Vitebsk in 1944 and until autumn… suffered in the hospital, because whatever you say, but it’s easier to wait for the end of the war at the front! There, at least ,something depends on you. Near Vitebsk the soldiers of the 3rd Belorussian Front did not spare themselves. Despite all German shooting, they still went forward, because as sometimes it happens, that there is no other way! Germans did not take it into account, so we drove them out of Vitebsk. That’s the second medal. I also have an Order, but I would not exchange the medal “For Courage” for any Order.
For my two medals “For Courage” I was awarded the right to participate in the first Victory Parade. My place in the parade is different from most other places. My companions and I were sitting in the back of the car ZIS-5. We were warned that, passing Mausoleum, we should not turn our heads. But how could we not turn them when there were Stalin and Zhukov?!