How it was in occupation

Already more than 60 years have passed since the start of Great Patriotic War. Now, we understand that there were many logicians in that war. At that time, everything was clear: our friends and our enemies. Now, we open new pages of the war, which ruin our previous conceptions on which several generations of Soviet citizens have grown.

Passing over in silence To such pages, life in Nazi occupation belong. This question was completely passed over in silence, excluding that moments, when the question was about guerrilla groups or about Nazi brutality. While other facts automatically got to special archives.

The war was mostly considered from the supreme military command view or from the view of a hero. Though, nobody was interested in what an average man felt, who simply wanted to live, who worked only for 500 g of bread, who learned at school…

For almost three years, many districts of Leningrad Region turned out to be occupied by Nazis. About a village occupied by Germans, Russian writer Alexandr Klein tells in his novel The Child of Death. This autobiographical novel was issued in the city of Syktyvkar and is not known to mass reader. The author tells how Germans turned sovkhoz (state farm) into a Staatsgut to supply food to their army. Village citizens and refugees worked for the Staatsgut, while a farmer came from Germany to manage the farm. His brutality and indifference to other people’s troubles coexisted in him with accuracy and aspiration to finish every started work – this made him an ideal manager. Forge was restored, Molkerei was built and East-Frisian caws brought from Germany. No wonder: Germans considered themselves to be masters of the captured lands.

War is war, service is service “Today, we one more time investigate that war for us, - Yury Lebedev, chairman of Reconciliation St Petersburg Centre on International Co-operation, says. – Yes, there was fascism, and we should not forget many other things. This is a tragedy of war: people do not belong to themselves, they becomes small screws of the war machine.” There were “normal” relations between the villages’ dwellers and the occupants. Though, that was a war normality. The German soldiers came from average villager families, so they often occupied themselves with usual peaceful work and sometimes ploughed with Russians. While the villagers seeing them without overcoats saw in them the same villagers as they themselves were.

Yearning for pre-war time In the two described villages Vokhonovo and Kikerino, occupants did not commit atrocities, though the dwellers still waited for liberation. If even they not badly lived with foreigners, Alexandr Klein writes, their presence made the villagers remember with yearning the pre-war time. They even forgave the collectivization. Actually, the Germans also did not fully believe in the long life of their occupation regime, however they organized everything very soundly. While saying about their victories in the war, they felt their situation was too unstable on Russian soil.

The end of the Staatgut was everywhere the same: at first villagers were driven off to the West, then the new masters left the villages. After the Leningrad blockade was raised, Germans started to transport people to the West by echelons, and later – by unit transport to Baltic. Though, the transport did not moved very far: Soviet aircraft’s attack started, so Germans left the unit transport with people and in a hurry drove away.

* * * While opening today unknown pages of the war, it is very important now to avoid running to extremes. Earlier, all Hitler Germans were enemies and murderers, while now they suddenly became war victims, innocent executors of criminal orders. However that may be, they came to our country as occupants, and this should not be forgotten. As well as we should not forget about bombardments of Leningrad, thousands of burned villages (including that ones in Leningrad Region), and punitive actions of Germans against Soviet civilians. The question is that at the war, there were different things...

Sergei Glezerov St Petersburg

Translated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian:

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