Victory. American history of Russian veterans
ForumDaily met with two veterans, Russian-speaking American and Soviet. They participated in a meeting of Soviet and American troops in the spring of 1945.
Igor Belousovich lives in Washington. He was an American soldier. He grew up in San Francisco in the family of a military pilot of the Russian army in the First World War. My father left Russia after the revolution, the family moved to America through the Far East and China.
Nikolay Zaitsev now lives in New York. At that time he was a Soviet soldier. He grew up in a dispossessed peasant family in the Altai Territory.
Where did you find the beginning of the war?
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier: On June 21st, the whole school celebrated our graduation party, and the next day we were going to leave in the morning. We are waiting for the suburban train at the station, but the director is not there. And now we see - running, waving his hands, shouting something, ran up closer, we hear: "War, war!". We ran to the recruiting office. We were met by an old infantryman captain, we say that we want to volunteer for the front. And he told us: “We will defeat the enemy with a triple blow on his territory, - then the slogan was like this. "We can do without you."
In the family, I was one of the men. It was not possible to study further, it was necessary to earn money. A carriage building plant from Ukraine was evacuated to our station. Created a new military plant for the production of shells. And the workers, basically, we boys. The foreman appointed me as his assistant - as a machine tool adjuster. At first I worked as a turner. In peacetime, the norm for men was 180 corps. And for us boys, there were no men in the military - 225 corps. And we mastered it, even doing 265 and more.
Igor Belousovich, American soldier: I was a student at UC Berkeley when the war began. The army offered us: if we join its ranks, we will be allowed to complete our studies before the end of the semester. It was convenient, and I took advantage of it. So, in Berkeley, I studied for about two years and was in service at the end of 1942. At first I was sent to Russian courses at Syracuse University (New York), since I was from a Russian-speaking family. But they said that I had nothing to learn in the Slavic department, and offered to learn German.
How did you get to the front?
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier: I was sent to the mortar school in 1942, in 17 years. Just a month after that, he hit the front. Then his line was not far from Leningrad. From these positions, the Mginskaya offensive was proceeding, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Artillery reconnaissance was with the infantry, and when she went to the attack, we could not stay behind, we had to know where the enemy was, report on targets, adjust the fire.
Igor Belousovich, American soldier: In July, 1944, the opening of the second front took place, the Allied forces crossed the English Channel and landed in Normandy (north of France). We, the soldiers, were sent to England. As a result, I was a corporal in the infantry division. And neither German nor Russian, which I studied, were no longer needed here. It was a normal process of military training.
At the end of 1944, the year went bitva in the ardennes in Belgium (the Battle of the Bulge). I participated in these hostilities, was under artillery fire. By the end of this battle and during the Allied breakthrough, we quickly moved to the East in tanks.
What episodes of war do you remember?
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier: Fight with a German sniper. He filled a whole cemetery in the swamp, through which I also had to run. When I crawled, I saw some more bumps. And it was July, heat. I smelled a tart smell and realized that these were not bumps - these were the bodies of our killed soldiers. He raised his cap on a stick to deceive the sniper and rush through the swamp. I hear it whistled from behind. The remainder of the swamp quickly slipped into this trench, and our soldier was standing there with a bandaged head. Says how you managed to get through, we call this swamp "valley of death."
People were dying before my eyes. This is how I speak to you, so is this lieutenant. We were just on the attack, I threw myself to the ground, but he did not have time. He looked at me, and I saw a hole in his jacket. He just breathed in - and that's it, the end. It was the same with the battalion commander. I was there when I adjusted the fire for him. He leaned a little out of the trench and caught a bullet right in the head as I looked at him. This was my first attack.
Igor Belousovich, American soldier: After breaking through the front in Belgium, the Germans mostly retreated. We drove quite quickly all of Germany, and when approaching the town or village, there were white sheets hanging there, meaning that there was no resistance. German military units opened fire somewhere, somehow. There was no real battle, but there were minor fights.
Tell us about your meeting with the Allied forces.
Igor Belousovich, American soldier: The division where I was assigned, at the time of the breakthrough to Germany was advanced, we drove fast east. And I rode there on a tank. Our last military fight was the capture of Leipzig. And in the south the Soviet units had already come close, and the division was moved there. The Soviet units reached the Elbe River, and we reached its tributary on the western side, which ran parallel. We were divided miles 25-30. Both sides behaved very carefully: if we hadn’t recognized each other and opened fire, there would have been a great nuisance.
Someone in command remembered my Russian name and that I probably speak Russian. I was summoned, and I became a participant and witness the first meeting of the Soviet and American military units. I had a small camera in my pocket with one roll of film, and I managed to take a series of shots that now turned out to be unique. I saw the riders in the distance and took a picture before the meeting, then the meeting itself. The commander of the Soviet intelligence pointed out how to go to command to the Soviet officers, and we were sent to the other side. We all, of course, understood that this meant the end of the war, because we had divided Germany in half, so to speak.
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier: Our regiment was sent to Vienna. My group was given the task of overcoming the Danube and tearing as fast as possible towards the Americans. I received the 7 task in May, and in a day, at dawn I had to complete it. Somewhere by midnight, the radio operator warned that an important government message had been announced. And about one in the morning we heard the voice of Levitan: “Attention! Attention! Moscow is saying! ”And then - that the war was over, we won, Germany capitulated. What started! And shooting, and "Hurray", and tears, and 100 grams, of course ...
At dawn, we moved on with the group. And here we see white flags. Surrender by surrender, but I ordered to keep this group on sight. A very elderly officer, a colonel, runs up. He put his hand and reports that such and such a division was built for surrender, he is the chief of staff. I ask where the weapon is - “Everything is assembled, in stock”. How painful it was for him to report this to the senior lieutenant, well, who am I against him, and the hand is tied up. I said that I need to replace the car, and other troops will accept the surrender, I do not have the authority to do so.
Says, choose any, it is your right. I chose the car and ordered to unload the trunk. The officer takes out bales and trophies from there, and under the latter, “Walther” and “Browning”. The colonel shook. I say: "You reported, all the weapons are collected, why is this situation?". He ordered his arrest and surrendered to our troops when they came to accept surrender.
By noon, we met an American tank. We fraternized, of course, and the terms of the people, the Czechs. They greeted us with a thunder of applause. Someone came up to us and said: "We are waiting for the Soviet army on the square near the town hall." A little girl ran up to me, I wanted to take her in my arms, and my right arm was bandaged. Contrived to raise her left. Her parents came up, and so we came to this square, I with the girl in my arms. That's how my war ended.
What was the attitude to the allies?
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier: It’s our allies, brothers, who also took the risk in battle, and they also fought against the Nazis. And many of them, too, died. None more, and thousands of 420 people, although of course, with our 27 millions can not be compared. And I am very unhappy that the Americans know very little about this war.
Igor Belousovich, American soldier: There was no "cold war" then. The meeting was friendly, everyone clapped each other on the shoulders, took pictures, smiled. I translated all the time .. We ate, got drunk and stayed overnight. The next morning I had a real hangover. The next day we returned back to our unit.
What was your fate after the war?
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier: I came to America, one might say, quite by accident. He lived in Chisinau after his dismissal from the Soviet Army. The daughter and her husband agreed to go to Israel at the invitation of the Jewish Agency. But they did not leave for Israel, but turned to America. In 1991, my wife and I were invited for a month. We arrived with one suitcase to visit.
A few days later, my daughter saw on television the war in Moldova with Transnistria - aircraft, tanks. She took our return tickets and says: “Everything, you do not return there, you, dad, were not killed in that war, they will kill you now, I don’t want to”. And I began to look for work. I went 67-th year. They told me why, everything is due to your age, according to merit, there is such a welfare program here, go to welfare. And I kept looking to prove: I am not a superfluous person here.
I fought for peace, including peace for Americans. And I still had enough health in myself. And he worked. And with a jackhammer, which he held for the first time in his hands, and in the dirtiest jobs, and for 85 cents per hour, and for free. But I knew that I had to settle here, otherwise who would provide me? I didn’t moan and never thought that dirty work humiliates my dignity, I understood that only work can save a person in any situation. Worked 10 years, until 77 years.
Then, mainly engaged in beekeeping, journalism and the education of his great-grandchildren. I am glad that the senior great-grandson speaks and writes in Russian, sings Russian songs. He studies at the French Lyceum on the East Side (a prestigious district in Manhattan) and is fond of drawing. He taught him the basics of a chess game. Both of our granddaughters were born in America.
Igor Belousovich, American soldier: Sooner or later we all returned home. I graduated from the University of California and married polka while still a student. Received an offer to serve in Washington. He loaded his old car with all our armrests and moved here to the Washington area.
I stayed in the ranks of the army reserve, continued military service during the summer holidays, and over time received an officer’s rank. Already in the 1960 year they called in connection with the events in Central Asia, and I spent some time in Japan. Returning from the second period of military service, I got a job at the State Department and spent there many, many years. Engaged in relations between the States and the Soviet Union, having served all this time in the Soviet department.
At times, I made fairly short trips to the Union and even served there as an employee of the American Embassy in 1976-1977. I had all sorts of adventures there, given that I speak Russian decently. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it was time for me to retire, which I did. I remember, at that time I was repeating that I had never thought that I would live to such a time that there was no Soviet Union left. And since then, I live in peace.
If there was no Victory ...
Nikolai Zaitsev, Soviet soldier:
The world would be conquered by fascism. The Italy-Japan-Germany alliance had tremendous power, and if the USSR had not stood in their way, it seems to me that no coalition could have stood, and they would have achieved their goal, namely, Hitler wanted to destroy the Soviet people or turn them into slaves ... I do not know how it would have happened, but all peoples would have suffered. The USSR, as part of the coalition, achieved victory and saved the whole world, including America.
The main lesson: war should teach people to preserve peace, because if this lesson is not followed, then the world is divided into hostile parties. After the Second World War, the "cold" began, which does not end until now. Conclusion - World War II taught no one to live in peace, and millions died, one might say, in vain, whether you like it or not.
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