Paper boats of Victory: what did soldiers from the front write about?

Paper boats of Victory: what did soldiers from the front write about?

It could be said confidently that there are veterans of the Great Patriotic War in every region whose families keep the letters from front. Tied with ribbons, carefully wrapped in cloth, packed in boxes, they have long become an invaluable treasure, part of family history. And not just family one.

Soldier letters. In makeshift envelopes. During the war, it was hard to find an envelope. Some letters do not have envelope, they are written on rough brown paper and are folded as a bag.

Each of the letters has the front-line address, including a field post code and a thick stamp of military censorship. These letters have been impatiently waited in the rear, when receivers with a sinking heart were following the face and the hands of the postal workers while they took the envelopes out of their bags: what is there – a “killed in action” notice or a letter?

Letters were read and re-read by the whole family many times, having memorized from the first to the last word. The family members were happy to share the letters with friends, neighbors, and colleagues. And it doesn’t matter that sometimes it took months to receive these letters: if there is news, then there is hope that a loved one is alive.

One by one, carefully, so as not to tear the decrepit paper, I leaf through the old soldiers “letters”, and it seems that they are still covered with dust from the front roads, they keep the smell of marching soldier bonfires, moist trench land, sweat, blood, gunpowder urning …

Fragile paper, faded lines, written mainly in pencil, less often in ink. What are they about? About the horrors of war? About combat feats? Not at all.

Yes, each letter is imbued with a spirit of hate towards invaders, a fierce desire to beat the enemy to the last drop of blood, while rarely a battle stories, military hardships and suffering can be find in any of them. A piece of paper, quickly smoothed out on the knee, on the soldier’s helmet, on the tablet, on the trench parapet, on the gun barrel is so small that there is no need to spend it on unnecessary details. What if to tell about past battles? We had many; it would take long time to tell about all. In addition, time is running out, the artillery preparation is about to begin, and after the attack will start.

Many letters were written in this way – in a hurry, in between battles, and even just before the battle. That is why the text is extremely short: “Hello, dear father, dear mother, brothers Seyit, Bayramdurdy, Annamuhammet, sister Oguljeren and our neighbors! I am good. The third day in a raw, we are in defense position. We threw the enemy back, but at any moment, he can start a new attack. I am limited in time to describe all the details. Let us talk more when I’ll be back… ” (From a letter from the Guard of Lieutenant Kurban Orazov).

And then – almost nothing about themself, only questions, questions, questions. How is the mother’s health? How does the younger brother study? How much has the sister grown up? Has the house been repaired? Have you picked the harvest up? What news from relatives? etc.

Almost all of the front-line letters are filled with amazing care for their neighbors, about those whom they went to defend, whom they thought about while walking along the front-line roads.

It is impossible without emotional excitement to read the letters of Nury (Yura) Kurbanov to his mother, who lives in the Vekilbazar district. There are so much observation, touching affection, attention in his letters. Other letters are a tangle of naked nerves, in which the pain for lost friends, the experience of having to retreat is intertwined. It seems that an adult who had passed many troubles over wrote them; it is hard to believe that the author of these letters is a young boy, who was nearly an eighteen-year-old when he went to war. He is remembered as an eighteen-year-old boy always.

In front of me, there is a letter from Hojaniyaz Galimjanov from the city of Mary. “Hello, dear Mom! (Note of author, with a capital letter.) I send you my sincere, warm greetings. As you can see, I am still alive and well, which I also wish to all of you from deep of my heart. How are you? I hope everything is good with you. It is cold here, while, there, you should still have warm weather and dust on the street when a truck passes … ”

Hojaniyaz Galimjanov managed to write just a few letters to his home in Mary. His mother was illiterate, and her neighbors read letters to her. The last letter in the folder in front of me was printed on a typewriter. It is also addressed to the mother of Hojaniyaz, but it would be better not to open it. “Your son, Galimjanov Hojaniyaz, showed courage and heroism in battle, he was wounded and died of wounds. He was buried on September 29, 1943 at the city cemetery in the city of Kursk. Does anybody strong enough to read such a letter to mother?

In addition, what inescapable tenderness and warmth in the lines addressed to beloved ones and wives! It seems as the letters were written not by their hand, but by heart filled with light. They are woven out of love.

“My lovely dear! You cannot imagine how glad I was for your letter – warm, kind, sincere. I live without you for a very long time – a whole year. I never imagined that such a ruthless feeling as parting with relatives and dear people would enter my joyful, sunny life. I remember every detail of you, every, even the smallest birthmark, every cell of your body … I would not want to end the letter on the minor “G sol”. The right note, but with a tinge of tears. It is better to say goodbye on the major “C”. It sounds like a promise – see you soon. Yet I do not say goodbye to you, to the faith, hope, and love.” (From a letter of Captain Pavel Orlov to his beloved woman).

You read these simple, sincere, tender lines and a lump comes up to the throat, as if they were written for the last time. However, it was so – almost every letter was written as the last one.

In letters, soldiers tell about their wounds unwillingly, or even say no word about it – it is shame on the warrior moaning and groaning. There is no need to add unnecessary pain to a family that has known trouble in plenty. But family members can guess about this, especially if a front triangle signed by unknown person comes in a remote Turkmen village, and the letter begins with unusual Ukrainian words: “Hello, my dears! At the first lines (u pershih strokah) of my letter, I want to inform you that I am alive and well, which I also wish to you all …” Everything is clear, since he didn’t write it himself, it means that dear father, son, husband, brother is in the hospital. He is alive, thank God, and this is much important.

At the front, news from home has been waited for even more impatiently! Each such letter is a holiday for a soldier. The fighters looked carefully into the letters from their loved ones, so their thoughts could take them far away, for thousands of kilometers out the front, to distant calm lands, where there is no cannonade, smoke from fire, death, to the courtyard with sweet smoke, where the apricot blossoms under the window and tanned kids running around at the streets.

Letters from the native land supported the spirit of the fighters, gave hope to them, strengthening their confidence in victorious, bright days. Hoja Meredov from Kazanjik met the beautiful girl Lale on the eve of the war. Going to the front, he called her his bride. The soldiers always started the first letters with the words “Hello, my dear, the only one!” And suddenly one day the news stopped coming.

The girl could not guess what happened, while getting ready for the worst news. And one day another letter arrived. The letter was short, just a few lines. Hoja informed that he was seriously injured in the battle and lost his leg. That is why he asked the girl do not be waiting for him as he supposed that a legless person would not match for her.

Lale cried for two days, and then sat down and replied him: “Hello, my Hoja! Do not be sad for your misfortune. This is a war, and there is no war without loss. Do not give up, be courageous, you are a soldier! Even if you lose your second leg, I will still be waiting for you. Let us stop talking about it. Although you did not call me your wife, I will wait for you as a wife, as all our women are waiting for.”

This letter was with the soldier in all his long wanderings in the rear hospitals. With this letter, he returned home, to Kazanjik. Hoja and Lale lived together for forty years, and this letter became a moral will for their seven children.

Another war veteran told me that he kept the letters from his wife throughout the war without losing any of them. Having received another letter, he kept it in his tunic pocket, read and re-read it, until the next one arrived. When in November of 1943 their regiment was surrounded, it was ordered to destroy all official papers, maps, letters, leaving only personal documents. Everyone understood what this order meant.

Many of his fellow soldiers, with tears in their eyes, burned letters from the house so that enemy hands would not touch them, so that forged boots would not step on them, so that the fascists would not mock them. He did not burn letters from his beloved, believing that they must save him, as they had already saved him more than once. He returned from the war and the letters that they both saved for many years were kept together, in one bundle.

Soldier letters … Simple front-line triangles, like paper boats, which children launch on a long voyage along canals, with the hope that they will someday reach the ocean.

And they found their Ocean and the port of their home registry. Behind each such letter, there is the fate of thousands and thousands of our compatriots, people of different nationalities and professions, young and wise in life, living and fallen. Their main value is that they were written by people who stood face to face with death every day during four years, who endured the incredible hardships of war, who showed outstanding heroism and courage, who did not scare, did not run away, and did not betray Homeland.

Many authors of letters have already gone, while the lines that they wrote are still alive. Letters are not only the voices of the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War, they are their palms extended to you for a handshake through the many years.

They have become not just a family heirloom, but also part of our common history. During the severe years of the war, soldier letters filled with joy and warmed the hearts of relatives and friends of the front-line soldiers, gave hope to them, strengthening their confidence that victorious, bright days would come soon. Therefore, the Victory came, because they were waiting for it.

Vladimir ZAREMBO