Medvedeva, Aida Grigorievna
In 41, 40-memorable year Loud-speakers cried out a trouble.
Probably, it is strange to imagine: now I am older than my grandmother. No, certainly, I am much younger, but I am 18 now, and she was in her early teens in 1941... She lived in a small railway station Biser that is located somewhere in the north of Perm region. There is wonderful nature: huge fur-trees, dense woods and waist-high grass.
We went to Lyisaya mountain to gather berries. It was called Lyisaya, however, actually as it was densely covered with wood, like others, and only the sun loved it: always covered with light that was like a veil. In summer of 1941 the war could be observed somewhere in the West, but in the Urals the life continued: people still gathered mushrooms, berries, mowed the grass, burned down branches, cleaning the way to woodlands. And once all the pupils who were in the 7th form where my grandmother studied, saw a miracle: the sun rolled out from behind Lyisaya mountain - it was a huge red sphere. All of them held their breath and forgot for some minutes what they were speaking about because they saw the soldiers leaving for the front on the scarlet sunset. Perhaps, the children felt a "hot breath of war" for the first time in their lives.
The railway settlement had become uninhabited: almost all men and some women went to the front. In July of 1941 the people who lived in Biser began to help the front with enthusiasm. Everyone who could went to timber cuttings.The fur-trees and firs that had lived for centuries were cut under the roots, transformed into logs and were carried to the front for building dugouts. Some years later, being an adult, my grandmother supposed that the well-known song about «our dugout» had been written about Biser's logs. The teenagers helped the seniors: they were trusted to chop off branches, burn them and clean the road.
Everybody wanted to help the front. But during the first military years the children from Biser began to starve. Everything was given to the front-line soldiers by the country, and in the rear even bread was given out by means of special cards. Engine drivers were given the main part of bread while the rest of people were content with the small one. And when the children of the senior classes were called on timber cuttings, my grandmother and her younger brother Boris were the first volunteers.
For a day on timber cuttings 400 grams of bread were given. The first piece of bread was eaten by Boris and my granny, the second one was usually postponed because there were a lot of small starving brothers and sisters at home. They had awful living conditions: slept in a barrack without any cover surrounded by mosquitoes at night, therefore children put some branches of wet grass on their legs. Certainly, you could not be warmed, but the midges would not bite through.
Aunt Tonya, who was a cook, noticed that the Morozovs (it is a maiden name of my grandmother) kept some bread for a rainy day, and advised: "Let's make crackers from bread just to save it". My grandmother valued those small crackers and they were the most important jewellery for her. But once while bringing them home she fell down and, as a bad luck would have it, dropped her precious cargo. Probably, she had never cried so bitterly in her life.
The life was very difficult on the timber cuttings, but at the same time - interesting. The tired and exhausted children gathered together around the teacher before a dream who told them about the latest events on the front or read aloud the novel «The last of the Mohicans» by Fenimore Cooper. Many years later for my grandmother this book will be associated with the military Russian life although it narrates about different times and countries.
But the main schoolboys and teachers’ care was keeping tracks in good order on which the trains-echelons went with the tanks T-34 from Nizhniy Tagil. It often so happened that when my grandmother came to school she and her schoolmates went to work outside instead of taking their exercise-books.
Biser is a railway station, and all lives of its inhabitants are connected with travelling works. In winter - the removal of snow, in summer - the repair of railroad tracks; the work was hard: the replacement of cross ties, strengthening of bolts, certainly, under the direction of the expert - masters.
At the black plates of loud-speakers they gathered daily, listened to silently. Even the small understood that the reports were unfavourable. The front line was rolled away promptly, and it was necessary to prepare for the most terrible. In the summer and autumn of 1941 in Biser a blackout entered : before switching on the light in rooms, windows were curtained off tightly so that not a ray showed the presence of a habitation, a settlement to enemy planes. Yet it was not dictated by the necessity - German planes did not reach the Urals, but it was necessary to learn and do it.
All men serving in rear wished to be useful, and the front, first of all, needed the weapon, and even in a tiny Ural settlement there was a small factory where the pupils of 6-7 classes produced incendiary bombs.
In 1944 a presentiment of victory already lived. Every day the people learned about the clearing all of the settlements, but it was «the pleasure with tears in the eyes»: the ground had to heal wounds, for work in the released territories experts were required. My grandmother became a 16-year old girl. For military measures she was an adult, therefore she was mobilized for study: after short-term courses she became the assistant of the person on duty at the station. However, the study was prolonged, and men have already started to come back from the front, and it was not necessary for the grandmother to go far from the house.
Strangely enough, military years are remembered not only becase of exhausting work. It was the youth with both fun and optimism. After very hard work the people came to Biser's club to sing. One of the most favourite songs of those times was «the Officer Waltz», and even now the grandmother listens to it, half-closing her eyes. She still remembers the purely washed hall of the railway club, where the old men and children were sitting on the benches along the walls, and in the center the girls were swinging in pairs, echoing themselves:
In this empty hall We are dancing together, So tell me at least a word, I do not know about what
So 4 terrible years passed. Then, in the 40s, neither the grandmother nor her schoolmates considered themselves to be heroes. They just lived, they just served their Motherland. But many years later the Motherland tried to pay tribute to the people who were deprived of their childhood. On April,30, in 1987 for the long honest work on behalf of the Presidium of the Supreme body of the USSR the grandmother was awarded a medal «the Veteran of Labour» by the decision of the Perm regional executive committee. On May 22, 1995 my grandmother was awarded an anniversary medal «50 Years of Victory over the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45» and the certificate «the Veteran of Labour», given out by the administration of the Kirov region of Perm. And on April 28, 2000 the medal «For Valorous Labour during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45» was presented as well.
We know about the war only from books, we read Simonov's and Drunina's verses, we watch Ozerov's and Romm's films, we sing military songs, but we feel our participation in the world's history just because our grandmothers took part in it.
THE SCHEME OF THE TRAINS' DIRECTIONS FROM NIZHNIY TAGIL TO THE FRONT
Text in Russian Медведева Аида Григорьевна