Prior to Victory Day, first year bachelor’s degree and master’s degree students from science faculties of Voronezh State University were given a task to write an essay in English dedicated to the topic “My family in the Immortal Regiment”.
Several hundred moving war stories about students’ great-grandparent blended into one big story about the heroic wartime generation of our country. Ilia Kastcheyev, a first year student from the Faculty of Applied Mathematics, Informatics, and Mechanics, told us about his great-grandparents.
Andrey Danilov was eager to get to the front lines from the very first days of the war. However, he only managed to get there in 1943 as a communications technician. In the lines he met Anna Zlodeyeva, a young radio-officer, who was a volunteer fighter. As part of the 3rd Ukrainian Front they both contributed to the liberation of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Austria, and celebrated Victory Day in Vienna. They both were awarded with medals, including the medal "For Valour".
Their family still have their great-grandmother’s certificate with the signature of Major General of Air Force Oleg Tolstikov, which reads: “Battle friend and fellow-soldier, comrade Zlodeyeva. The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet People against the Nazi invaders has ended in our complete victory. Fascist Germany has been defeated. In this historic battle YOU served honourably in the line of duty. Together with the 3rd Ukrainian Front You have come a long way from the Don and Stalingrad to Vienna and the Austrian Alps; YOU have participated in the liberation battles for the motherlands of Ukraine and Moldova. YOU have helped the peoples of Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Austria to throw off the yoke of the fascist oppressors. YOU are returning to your motherland and your family to once again be involved in peaceful construction. Keep up the combat traditions of your unit, protect, and multiply them through peaceful and constructive work! A big thank you for your selfless work and combat activities. Let me firmly shake your soldier's hand and say goodbye! Commander of military unit 36637, Major General Tolstikov”.
Anastasia Timoshenko, a first year student from the Faculty of Chemistry, described in detail the front-line story of her great-grandfather, Alexander Menshikov, who was born in the Kursk region. He served in the Red Army between 1939 and 1949, took part in the North-Caucasian operation, fought in battles near Novorossisk and was part of the 1st Belarusian Front. His family cherish his award sheets and medals.
Many families treasure award sheets, medals, and orders of war veterans. Vadim Taratanov, a first year student from the Faculty of Applied Mathematics, Informatics, and Mechanics, attached a copy of an award sheet to his story about the heroic deed of his great-grandfather, Vasily Churikov.
Alexander Burmitsky, a first year student from the Faculty of Chemistry, told us about his great-grandfather, Ivan Kulbachenko, who was the commander of a partisan unit in the settlement Osadcheye in the Voronezh region. When the war broke out, Ivan Kulbachenko was just 16. Although he was rejected by the army, he made up his mind to become a soldier and organised a partisan unit, which was comprised of other teenagers from his hamlet. Later, adults also joined them. The resistance-fighters collected guns in the forest and hid them in safe places so that they could use them later against German invaders. When the settlement was liberated, Ivan completed short-term courses for parachute jumpers and later took part in the liberation of Poland and Austria.
Maria Rakitina, a student from the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, shared stories about ten of her relatives who fought on the front-line and contributed to the victory on the home front. Her great-grandfather, Vasily Sanin, took part in the Great Patriotic War and in the Winter War. During the Great Patriotic War, he was a driver on the Road of Life in Leningrad, and was among the first drivers who delivered food to the besieged city and evacuated citizens by the ice road across the frozen Lake Ladoga. He was awarded with medals “For Valour” and “For the Defence of Leningrad”. Maria’s great-grandmother, Ekaterina Sanina, went off to war in 1943. She worked in hospitals, went with the army as far as Austria, and celebrated Victory Day in Poland. She was awarded with medals and the Order of the Red Star.
Diana Khizhnyakova, a first year student from the Faculty of Pharmaceutics, wrote a letter to his great-grandfather, Vasily Berdnikov, who would turn 95 this year. The girl never met her great-grandfather but she wrote in her letter that she always remembers him and knows that he fought in Ukraine, that he had lied about his age to go off to war at 17, that he had several narrow escapes and that he had to stop fighting on the front-line in 1943 when he had a serious head injury and lost an eye.
Georgy Zinkevich, a master’s degree student from the Faculty of Computer Sciences, wrote about his grandfather, Mikhail Makarov. When the war started, Mikhail was 16. When he finished school in 1943, he went off to war. He fought on the Belorussian fronts, took part in the Operation Bagration, and was wounded twice and shell-shocked. When the war ended, he was in East Prussia. He was awarded with the Order of the Red Star, Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class, a number of medals, including the medals “For Valour” and “For the Capture of Königsberg”. After the war, Mikhail Makarov worked as a teacher of history and a headmaster in a school in Sevastopol. Georgy attached to his essay a video about his grandfather in the Russian language, which he shot a year ago.
It is impossible to mention all the front-line and home-front fighters about whom students wrote their essays. A selection of the most interesting works will be published in the autumn issue of “Never Before”, the English-language supplement of the newspaper “Voronezh University”.