Photo project

World War II Veterans in Sasha Maslov’s Project

Ukrainian photographer Sasha Maslov visited 18 countries, from Austria to Japan, to meet over one hundred WW II veterans, take their portrait picture and document their stories.

On Victory Day, which is celebrated in the US and Europe on May 8th, photographer Sasha Maslov published his “Veterans” project on his website. It took five years to do the project. Bird In Flight features 12 portraits and stories from the epic series.

Sasha Maslov, 30

Ukrainian photographer, lives and works in New York. His clients include The New York Times, Billboard, WWD, Wall Street Journal Magazine and other publications.

In the “Veterans” project I analyse and compare the lives of those who survived in the war. I photographed and interviewed veterans in Austria, Great Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine, USA and Sri Lanka. This was my way of creating a puzzle of portraits of people from all over the world who had been involved in the same tragic events.

In the portraits I wanted to unite a documentary approach and a personal touch. The first photo shoot was done in Moscow in 2011, and the last ones in Budapest and New Delhi — four years later. Some veterans refused to be interviewed. In Hungary, for example, a one hundred year old veteran refused to be photographed in his home — that was very unlucky because that was the idea of the project, the veterans had to be photographed in their everyday environment at home. There was often a lump in my throat as I listened to some of the stories. Nearly all of them concluded in the simple truth that the war is the most horrible event in human life.

This kind of series can only be shot while the protagonists are still living. I managed to do over 130 portraits, the larger part is on my website, the book is going to feature some 50-60 portraits.

Herbert Killian, Vienna, Austria

At the beginning of 1945 in Belgium three solder friends and myself were captured by American troops and sent to a camp for prisoners of war in France. All through the winter we lived in tents, without beds, without warm clothes, nearly without food. One day as if for no reason we were given straw, a lot of provision and a little burner for cooking. It turned out that some kind of a commission was to come and check the conditions in which we were kept. As soon as the commission left, all that stuff was taken away from us.

I had a friend in that camp. We made an escape plan. It was not difficult to escape, in fact the camp was in the middle of a field and there was not much security. Three days later we met a farmer. We spoke some English so we told him were were Americans. But he didn’t believe it and went to tell on us to the authorities. Some other villagers seized us and gave us over to the French police who put us back into the camp.

In March they started to draft volunteers for construction of a labor camp. I volunteered because we were to go East, closer to Germany. We were three friends. One of us worked in the kitchen, so we had plenty of canned food. We buried the cans the yard in preparation for another escape. Three weeks later we fled. We made our way to Verdun and jumped onto a train that was going east. When we reached Germany, we jumped off the train and after a month and a half of walking we were finally in Austria.

In May 1947 I went back to school. I was lodging in an apartment with windows facing sheds where Russians lived. Once, as I was studying for my classes, I heard some noise outside and on looking out the window I saw Austrian and Russian kids who were fighting. I went out, kicked one of them and got arrested. I was sentenced for three years — it was a maximal prison term for hooliganism — and sent to Magadan. We were barely fed there so I was unable to fulfil the daily plan of work, and as a punishment for that my food ration was cut down even more. Some time later I withered to 36 kilograms.

I fled from the camp and for nine days was wandering about without food, hoping I would get as lucky as in France. Nine days later by some kind of a miracle I got back to the camp and fainted. It was a very difficult period, I thought I would never get out of that misery. All the more amazing it was when I finally was released.

I got a job at a hospital. Four and a half years later someone advised me to write to the Austrian embassy. They send me a passport but I didn’t have the right to go further than 20 kilometres away from the village where I lived. I wrote letters to all kinds of organisations, and finally, in October 1953, I was allowed to leave. I came to the sea port right before the end of navigation season. The last ship was to leave on the next day, but I didn’t manage to get on it. My allowance for leaving the country was valid only for a few weeks, so after I walked the 13 kilometres to the airport it was a blow to find out that the next flight would be in three weeks. So I came up to an NKVD officer, showed him my passport and lied that I was an Austrian journalist who had come to a conference in Moscow but accidentally found myself there. There was no entry stamp in my passport, but the officer believed me and sent me by plane right on the next day.

It was difficult to go back to the European society. I was 15 when I left home and 28 when I came back. Somehow I managed to finish school but couldn’t socialize and found a job as a forester.

At the end of the war Americans showed us concentration camp chronicles. We were sure it was some kind of a propaganda and laughed at it. No one of us knew of the Nazis crimes. Many years later we found out it was true but we still couldn’t believe it. Only when I got back from Russia I realized that it was true.

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Jack J. Diamond, 89, Miami, Florida

When the Second World war broke out, I was just leaving high school. On my final year my uncle sent me to a war academy, so I enlisted when I was not yet 18. I did a short training at the military school, then we got on a war ship and disembarked in France. Our first military victories were in Belgium. It was after the D-Day (disembarkation of the allied forces in Normandy), so not that many Germans were still remaining in France — the military action had moved onto Germany.

The Ardenne offensive was our first wartime experience, and after 19 days of fighting our whole division was smashed, and I was captured. I am Jewish, so I just told the Germans so, “I am Jewish and American, you can do whatever you want with me.”

It was one of the coldest winters in Europe in the last century. My feet were frostbitten in the overshoes I was wearing. The Germans found out about it and took me to hospital but the doctor couldn’t do anything about it because I had no shoes. The Germans themselves didn’t get enough food, so we barely got anything at all. It was the way they treated all the prisoners, not just Jews. We were separated according to country — Canadians were here, Americans were there.

Military authorities sent a telegram to my family telling them I was missing in Germany. It was later, from another telegram, that my mother found out I had been captured. Some time later we were transferred to a prison camp in East Germany where I was till May 1945.

When the Russians came it felt like from the German prison I got right into a five-star Paris hotel even though the Russians had the same shortage of food. For some time we were helping the Russians, but after a while Americans came, put us into military trucks and took us to France, and from there right to Miami Beach in the USA.

When we arrived to the US we were checked by doctors. None of us were in a good shape, of course. I was in the army until we dumped a bomb on Hiroshima. When I was demobilized I decided to continue my studies. Later I graduated from a Miami university and made a plan to stay here.

I had a sales kiosk in the club by the beach; then another kiosk at a hotel; then I was in the alcohol trade; then worked at dog races. I even tried working in the surfing. I was renting out surf boards and gave weather forecasts to my clients over the phone. I had the best surfing forecasts, no joking about it!

I work a lot with the Amercian Ex-Prisoners of War Organization. When I retired at 62 I became a volunteer and helped war veterans at the Miami hospital to get compensation for the time of captivity and war injuries. By 2013 I had worked 24,000 hours at the hospital and was awarded the volunteer of the year.

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Hakushu Kikuchi, 85, Tsukuba-Shi, Ibaraki prefecture, Japan

I started training in 1941 in Kasima City. I was 12 and I wanted to help out my country. I had no fear of death. We had been taught that we should be proud to die for Japan. When I turned 14, I became a child pilot.

American planes were bombing our cities. It was very scary. Once, a bunch of B-51s flew over. They were so numerous I couldn’t see the sky.

Emperor Hirohito had absolute power over the Japanese. When I found out that the war was over I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even think it could be possible because we had always been told we would win. We believed that the Emperor was divine, that he was a god. When the Emperor had to admit he was not divine we lost all faith in victory. We were embarrassed and had no more energy to fight.

Americans made military bases where our bases had been. They were thinking the locals would start doing something against them. But we never thought of attacking the Americans — they didn’t have much influence on our life after the war was over. My father spoke some English and even went hunting with the Americans. He described them as very friendly people.

After the war I turned 18, and it was a very hard time. In order to get stronger you had to survive. I fell under the influence of some people I knew and became a Yakuza. Later I realised that it had been a mistake and started working for the government. I have a lot of hobbies, every week I meet young people to listen to their stories and give my advice.

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Alexey Georgiev, Moscow, Russia

I was raised in the Leningrad region. When the Germans invaded, we were evacuated to the East. We had very little to live on – we lacked clothes, and we were more than happy when we had something to eat. But in spite of everything local people were kind to us, so now I think that I had a happy childhood.

Then once more we had to move – to the city of Gorky, at present Nizhny Novgorod. My mother worked at a hospital. In 1944 it was converted into a field hospital and we had to move again. The trip lasted for a whole month. I saw distoroyed villages and towns in ruin, it was sheer horror. By the moment we reached Western Ukraine, I had turned 17. I went to the next railway station, it was called Kolomyia, and enlisted for the Red Army. They gave me a gun and thus I became a soldier. My mother didn’t interfere, she realized that I alone am responsible for my decisions.

I started military service in the Western Ukraine. At first we didn’t know who our enemy was. Many Ukrainians didn’t want us to be on their territory and didn’t recognize us as liberators. I was just doing what my commanders told me to do, fulfilling orders. I never thought I was doing something wrong, I never shot into a person in front of me, only if he was far away. We arrested a lot of Ukrainians and sent them to Siberia. But I never felt any hatred in respect of Ukrainians or Germans.

We found out that Germany was capitulating on May 8, 1945. I cannot even express how happy we were, it was such an euphoria. But it didn’t mean the war was over. Clashes with Ukrainian partisans went on till the 1950s. And there was also a war with Japan, so a month after the victory over Germans I went to Vladivostok to fight with Japanese. By the moment we got there, though, the war was over and we had to go back. I was hoping I could get discharged at that point, but they sent me to work as a security to a labor camp in Kamchatka.

I came home in 1951. My mother didn’t recognise me when she saw me. I had left as a boy and came back as a mature man. I had a long exciting life and I often sit in this room, look through old photographs, and think back about it all, with pride.

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Anna Potapova, Kharkov, Ukraine

I was very a small child when my parents died. I didn’t get on well with my brother’s wife, so when the war started I went to the front. I told them I was a nurse, they didn’t have the time to check, so I was taken onto the train going to the East Ukraine. I was 15 and I spent two years at the frontline.

I worked as a doctor, a telephone operator and an aimer in anti-air raid artillery. Thanks to girls like myself we shot down a lot of planes. There were about 90 girls, so when one of them got killed the next one had to take her place right there not to miss the plane that was coming.

My commander always tried to send me to a bomb shelter when a shelling attack began. But how could I? I was with my comrades in the trench trying to help the wounded.

There were people among us who were making demoralizing rumors that we had already lost the war. I always told on such people to a special person. I even have a medal for it.

Once there was a severe bombing and I was buried under bomb shelter debris. When I came to in hospital I asked the doctor for a pill that would make me never wake up again. But he was a good doctor, with a funny beard, like Michurin’s. He said, “You are young and pretty and will get married.” And I recovered.

After the war I had a lot of fiancés. One of them was a pilot — he was very persevering. Once I saved up some money to buy a pair of shoes. But he suddenly appeared in the shop and bought those shoes for me. But I didn’t like him! He was following me about. People were telling me that no one would ever love me the way he did, so I gave up and we got married. Work-wise we had to move to Sakhalin where we lived for six years. There was a lot of snow there, and we lived in a basement with soldiers, with canned beef for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No other food was available. Then I got pregnant and we were given a separate room, just for ourselves. Six years later, when my husband was demobilized, we went to the Ukraine. Then, finally, a normal life began for us: we went dancing, I played volleyball, we got our private apartment. Now I am taking care of my husband who is disabled after two strokes. And sometimes I think of what my life would have been if I hadn’t married a man I never loved.

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Morton Rosenberg, 98, Summit, New Jersey

In 1941, I was enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin Graduate School. When Pearl Harbour occurred, I left school the next day, went to the Great Lakes Naval Station and enlisted. I thought we had been attacked in such a cowardly way and had to defend our country. I didn’t even wait for a draft.

As a pharmacist I was sent to the San Diego Hospital Core School as an instructor. Then I was sent to the Amphibious command where I was assigned to a Landing Ship Tank.

Our core proceeded from Boston through Atlantic waters and the Panama Canal. We ultimately reached the Pacific where we were in a number of engagements for a period of over 22 months. Then we moved to Pearl Harbour where we were loaded for the invasion of Guam.

It was truly the Army and Marines who did the grunt work though. I felt guilty when we’d hit the beach, the military dropped down, and we’d leave them. It felt like they were carrying the bulk of the war. The soldiers we picked up from Guam were pretty shell shocked, most suffering from dengue fever. They had been through a horrendous experience of personal combat with the enemy for 21 days. They told us a tactic the Japanese used of asking an American soldier for a cigarette in English then shooting the soldier as he reached for them.

During our time at sea, we had very little contact with the enemy. The nearest we came to them was an instance where a ship behind us was torpedoed in the midst of our convoy leaving the shore. We heard the explosion in the dark and received a message to drop out and standby. We ended up towing that LST 15,000 miles, ultimately dropping it off at Pearl Harbour.

Our ship was never struck by any fire, but did take one shell, a portion of which hit a spot on the deck I was standing in just two minutes prior! I was very lucky to go through five invasions and find myself in imminent danger only once.

War is the most horrible experience that anyone can be subjected to. It distorts personalities and brings out the worst in us.

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Ronald H. Quadt, Florida, USA

I was born in South Amboy, New Jersey. When I was eight years old my dad gave me a 22 rifle and we used to shoot out at my grandfather’s garage. So by the time I got in the army, fourteen years later, I was a very good shot, and I was afraid actually that I’d be called as a sniper, which isn’t such a great job you know.

Because no one was sure about when we were going to begin the D-day landing, I was given ammunition to practice my target shooting. Probably I shouldn’t tell you this but I was having some fun during those days. When the captain and no one else was looking, I would shoot at these big buzzards that were always flying around. It was a lot more fun, and as I said, I became a very good shot.

When the D-day arrived luckily we didn’t go in early but after noontime. There were already a lot of dead bodies in the cold water that hadn’t been picked up yet. When we got to the beach there was a house about a quarter of mile up, and we spotted a sniper hiding behind the chimney. Our captain in charge brought up a tank and I fired at him, bringing him down, the chimney too, and everything else with it. That was my first shot fired.

In France in 1943 we continued to travel along at night, jumping from one town to the next. Every time we would set up our guns, each about a hundred and fifty yards apart. We ran telephone wires along them so we could talk to each other. One night we didn’t run the lines and we heard a tank coming down the road towards us. We were in position, but we couldn’t just get up and move the gun because that guy would see us, so we kept quiet. When the tank came down to the third gun, our sergeant got up and hit the tank with his bazooka, and we managed to get a few shots in before ten to twelve Germans took off. When the morning light began to dawn we spotted a tank coming down the hill. I threw a shell in the gun and tapped my gunner on the shoulder, signalling that we were ready to fire. He fired and the tank fired back at us at about the same time. Its fire came within inches of hitting me. He fired again and hit our tank’s gun. I went about fifteen or twenty feet up in the air before landing back on the ground. I was glad I was in one piece, but our gunner lost his arm. We all ran for cover through the countryside, and I found four or five SS troops. I took them prisoner, and luckily I didn’t fire because soon a jeep full of even more German troops pulled up. They would have killed me if I had fired. So what could I do? I had to give up at that time.

The SS troops pulled me in a smaller tank and began firing towards the American lines. After a while it became a plateau because the Americans were far out of range. So they got the idea to push me out in front. So I was out there leading the Germans, but the American troops — they must have seen me in my uniform — didn’t hit me. After getting pushed out in front for three times I was taken in to meet their officer in charge. He spoke English, had been educated in California, and he saved my life. He stopped a kid from shooting me in the head.

This German officer was losing a lot of guys so he gave me a white towel to go wave. I went outside and waved it and of course the Americans stopped. Once the Germans surrendered I took my field jacket off and told them to put their pistols in it. I collected thirty pistols in all and brought in fifty-one prisoners. Before taking the prisoners, however, I wound up getting shot in my heel, and my ankle got as big as a balloon tire once back in camp. So I spent a few days there after an operation on my heel. The King Sisters came to visit the hospital once. One of the sisters sat right in my bunk and sang to me. It was really nice.

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Surjan Singh, 95, Delhi, India

When I reached 15, my family believed it was the time for me to begin working on the family farm. The fun of my childhood was over when I realized just how bad things truly were. The British were in control in India, and they were basically pillaging our land. Many people were forced to work in the agricultural industry, and eventually it got to the point where so many people were doing this that it was very hard to succeed. Besides, there was mass malnourishment across India, and my family felt it as bad as everyone else. What little farmland we had, it wasn’t producing enough to keep us properly fed.

How would I survive if I was literally dying of hunger? So by the age of 18, I felt my best option was to volunteer for the Army. They paid 15 Rupees a month, which was vital income for my family. Additionally, I wanted to serve my country in this terrible conflict that was going on.

Upon enlistment, I was sent to Madres for basic training. Us Indians were the lowest rank in the entire Allied Forces. Our entire command was British. They didn’t even have the decency to learn our language we had to learn theirs.

We got deployed to Burma first. Japan was a formidable enemy. We had tanks, machine guns, rifles, and even horses for combat. All of us were prepared for the worst, but it soon became apparent we weren’t prepared for the Japanese tactics. The Japanese were waging aerial attacks against us, shooting and even throwing bombs out of planes. Our regiment spent most of the time hiding in the mountains and forests from overhead attacks.

Once I got back to India, I was faced with the same issues as in my past. I wasn’t educated, so I couldn’t get a decent job. I went back to the family farm, and lived off my pension from the Indian Army.

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Sidney Taylor, 95, Norton Canes, England

On June 10th, 1940 I can remember suddenly hearing tanks in the distance. We didn’t have the proper ammunition to fight back, so very soon they took us in as prisoners of war. They told us the war was over for us, put us into trucks and drove us to Holland. We were then put in car barges and sent to a prisoner camp, Stalag XXA, in Poland. In Stalag we dug irrigation ditches and performed road repair throughout the town. We spent four months there and then were sent to a second camp in Bromberg.

In the summer of 1943, I was moved to a farm in Marienberg, Poland (now called Malbork). I remember once I was using a tractor and forgot to put it back in the barn. I was almost shot over that.

While I was on the farm, I met a Japanese prisoner. He got a letter from his parents saying his wife had left him for another man. He kept telling me he had to escape the camp, presumably to go back and win her love. I told him I would escape with him. One day we were out in the field doing work and scurried away from the rest of the prisoners. Apparently they didn’t realize we were gone until they did a head count on the truck. They eventually found us and shot us both, killing my friend. In hindsight, it was a silly decision. Of the 5,000 prisoners of that camp only 29 actually ended up escaping throughout the war. Those people had connections, and being in a strange land, we had none.

Our time at the farm ended when the Germans suddenly decided to leave and take us with them. Us prisoners had no idea what was going on. I later realized the United States and Russia had invaded Poland. It was an arduous journey through a Polish winter. There were 12,000 of us prisoners marching along, locked in threes. We would walk 25-30 kilometers a day. We had no idea what was going on or where we were going. Sometimes a prisoner would get too tired to march and fell by the wayside. We would pick them up and keep going. Eventually, the Germans just shot whoever fell by the wayside. They would beat and assault us at will. Four months later we got to Dresden. There were only 6,000 of us left.

While we were in Dresden, Allied Forces bombed the city. The Germans fled and left us behind. Americans found us and started sending us back home with the British bombers. I remember knocking on the door of my house. My grandparents shouted out from an upstairs window, “Who is it?”

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Mickey Ganitch, 95, San Leandro, California

I joined the Navy on January 21, 1941. At a boot camp in San Diego they asked me what I’d like to do. I became a quartermaster whose job is steering the ship and helping to navigate. They assigned me to the USS Pennsylvania on August 15, 1941, which was a battleship at Pearl Harbor. I also joined the ship’s football team. In December, the Japanese attack came while we were dry-docked because of mechanical issues with the propeller. We had a game scheduled that afternoon with the USS Arizona, for the fleet football championship. We were scrimmaging in the morning when the phone rang.

My battle station was up in the crow’s nest, about seventy feet up in the air. I didn’t have time to change clothes. I had all my padding on except my helmet and spikes, and up I went. By the time I got there, planes were buzzing around, buildings were burning, ships were burning, everybody was shooting in all kinds of directions.

I’ve been to Japan many times since the war ended. They were our enemies once, now they are our good friends. To me, it’s like a football game, like a sport. You’re enemies on the field, maybe you’ll go out to supper after. I have no animosity whatsoever. I drive a Japanese car. What is done you can’t change. You look to the future.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/maslov_14.jpg”, “alt”: “Veterans”, “text”: “”}

Alfons Bink, Regensburg, Germany

I told the priest that I was skeptical. I told him, “Now we invaded France and everything’s gone well, but let’s wait and see what happens.”

I didn’t feel enthusiastic about the war, because we’d already experienced the First World War. After seven years of school, I was sent to the Netherlands for military training. We marched down the streets singing chants. I was embarrassed about this.

After that, I joined the war in Monte Cassino. We were getting bombed and had no ammunition to fight back. It was quite clear we wouldn’t win. I remember cycling around Italy, going from one place to another, thinking that Americans would land there, but they never did.

At the end of the war I returned to Dresden and the Russians were already there. They didn’t capture anyone because they were drunk. They were celebrating. I escaped and was captured by the Americans in Bavaria, but they released me after a few days. I was one of the first to come home. I had been wearing my uniform, but there were no badges from my unit because the Russians had taken them. I looked plain.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/maslov_16.jpg”, “alt”: “Veterans”, “text”: “”}

Dmytro Verloljak, Manyava, the Ivano-Frankivsk province of the Ukraine

I was born in Galichina. When the first Soviets came, my brother told me he’d rather flee to the West instead of serving the Russians. Later, I searched for him, and with God’s help found him, after fifty years of not seeing him. He was in Australia. Our family had been heavily repressed by the first wave of Soviets, then the second wave almost wiped us out.

During the German occupation in the war, I moved to the Ternopil’ province and found work on a farm. There was no work where I lived, and when I left home my mother told me that no matter how hard things got, to never take my own life, that it was the biggest sin you could commit. I remembered that so clearly, how she said it, especially later on, when I was in a camp.

I worked at the farm for four years, and when I came home the Russians had arrived as so-called “liberators” — throwing people in prison, sending others to work in the mines to the East. I saw how they tortured people and humiliated Ukrainians. I felt there was little for me to do but join the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. I spoke with the partisans in my area and said, “I’m going with you.” They didn’t want me because I was still a kid. They said, “We have our path, but you have to wait to follow this path, in twenty or thirty years.” I told them I wasn’t leaving them. The first time I was injured was a year after I went underground. Five bullets in my foot. I was living in the forest with a few others, all young kids. We were busted in the forest by the NKVD, the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. There were five of us and they fired at us. I got hit then, in my left foot. I wanted to blow myself up with a grenade so they wouldn’t take me alive, but once I realized I could still walk, I threw the grenade in the direction they were shooting from and ran with the others. I had a total of three injuries when I was with the insurgents. That first injury has haunted me all my life. A nurse bandaged me once after that incident and for three or four weeks after no one maintained the wound and it was literally crawling with bugs. It smelled badly enough that people didn’t want to be around me.

One time I was left alone, because I couldn’t walk, while two others went off to the village to get some food. I was found by Honta, an older member. He asked why I was all by myself and why no one took care of me. I told him the story of how I got injured and no one attended the wound for a month. He got angry and told me to hang tight, told me that wasn’t the order of things, that he would take care of it and I would never be left alone again like that. Then he left.

Later that night, my guys came back and told me that they’d never leave me again. The next morning the nurse found us in the forest with another partisan. When she took the bandage off, we saw that the wound was crawling with all kinds of insects. She kept saying, “Don’t worry, if there are bugs it means there are no germs.” I don’t know what kind of medical school she went to, but at that time, I had no idea what she was saying. Now I understand she was trying to get me to calm down. As she was cutting my pants with scissors, I was thinking these are my only pants, what am I going to do? The nurse said that when you’re alive, you can get new pants, but if you’re dead there’ll be no pants for you at all.

She stepped away momentarily with the other partisan she’d arrived with, our commander, and started yelling at him, “How could you let this happen? How is it that your soldiers aren’t even trained to change a simple bandage?” Soon after, those in command decided that the nurses would need to train the soldiers to treat each other. And I was learning to do everything with my own wound.

After I learned many of the simpler things and could walk, they sent me to a different village, where there was a wounded person that needed to be taken care of. I learned how to give injections there. I practiced on pillows, of course, before I did it to people. After this, I was sent from one village to another, taking care of the wounded as well as acting as a courier for messages between groups.

Even after the war ended, we carried on fighting against the Soviets. They were as bad as the Germans, if not worse. The NKVD were everywhere, looking for insurgents. They tried to bribe or scare people for information. So many of us were killed or sent away. I was finally arrested in 1952, after being sold out. They tortured and interrogated me, put chemicals in my food. I was sent to a camp in Pot’ma, somewhere near Vorkuta in Mordovia, for twenty-five years.

They quickly learned I had been a medic and I was sent to work in the camp hospital. The warden was against this, he was screaming, “Do you know who he is? He’s a nationalist, a Banderivets!” and the nurse told him, “I don’t care who he is, as long as he is treating others, he will be working here.”

They were “correcting” me and didn’t correct anything. They released me in 1980 and I finally got back to the Ukraine. But even free, they didn’t let me do much. I couldn’t work as a doctor or a medic with my record. I had to stay in my village all the time and I wasn’t allowed to leave my house after 10pm. This was my freedom.

But I got a job as a masseur. I worked as a masseur for ten years, from 1981 to 1991. Now I’m here in Markova and the people from the village help me a lot. I have a pension.
This is how I only started to live freely after I turned eighty.

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/maslov_04.jpg”, “alt”: “Veterans”, “text”: “”}

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