Captivity. The Autobiographical Story.

Translation from Russian � the Bureau of translations �Prima Vista�

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�������������� 1.The Beginning of The Road.

���� I have already told you about the episode of my last battle at the river Pripyat to the west of Mozyr where I was wounded and contused. Now - I will continue. So I am turning back to January 14, 1944. I opened my eyes and found myself sitting among some sacks on the cart that was moving along. The right part of my head was entire swelling, one of my eyes got bloated. Things around are perceived like in somnolence, because sounds did not penetrate through noise and fog that surrounded me. Next to the cart there walked a huge man - �ambal� - dressed in the German uniform. Having seen that I regained my consciousness, he asked me something but I did not hear and did not understand what he wanted from me. On the front of the cart there was another soldier in the German uniform with a German rifle sitting with his back to me.
I started listening to myself and looking around. Trying to take a more comfortable posture, I felt as if my leg was in chains, so that I could not move. I felt a dull throbbing pain in my leg. No headache but I felt like my head was filled with cotton-wool and the sounds of outward life could not reach me, things around seemed to be like in a silent picture.
��� The cart that carried me, was moving in the column of a string of carts. All the way through there were people in the German uniform with marks of the �RLA� on their right sleeves (Russian Liberation Army) - Vlasov's soldiers. Parallel to the string of carts, there was a column of armed people dressed in white fur overalls. Among them, dressed in bluish-gray great-coats with fur collars there could be seen officers in peak-caps with high bent-up brims and pulled out earlaps.

��� Having realized that I was taken prisoner, I could not recall how I could get there. The last thing I remembered were figures of retreated soldiers lost in the darkness. Later on, next day when my hearing slightly came through, I was explained to that the Vlasov�s soldiers who were playing the role of a trophy team, picked me up, brought to the village and when retreating in the morning they put me into the cart.

��� It was a long way. We stopped in a big village for a halt. The same huge �ambal� carried me over to a stocky one-storied building, probably a barrack, and put me on a plank bed, located along the walls of a large room. A badly wounded fainted Russian soldier was lying on the same plank bed and sometimes moaned. I thought he was at his death's door. �Ambal" fetched me a plate with thick pancakes and a glass of tea. I enjoyed tea but could not even touch the pancakes because the only glance at the food made me sick.

��� I do not remember how much time I spent in that room. The Vlasov�s soldiers and the Germans were coming in and out, having no notice of me. Sometimes they sat down to table to drink and eat.

��� Some time later they began to bustle about and I understood that they were leaving. It has become quiet. I got an idea and a hope that they decided to leave me and that dying wounded man. But suddenly again my huge guardian shouldered me to his back and dragged to the same horsed cart. After he had seated me, he tried to contact me but I could not hear him at all. He explained with gestures repeating words many times so that I began understanding some things by the move of his lips. He told me that like me he was once wounded, picked up at a battlefield and got to the German hospital. He was cured there and he joined the Vlasov�s Army. He also wanted to put me to the German hospital.

��� By the evening we stopped in a small forest village. I was pulled in a shed, put on a bottle of hay where they left me with a door unlocked. I looked around, got convinced that there was no guard and thought that if I could get out of the shed and creep away to the forest, it would be possible to wait, hidden, for our army to come. But as it turned out I became so weak because of bleeding that I could not even rise to my feet. And how could I step on my wounded leg?

��� I was brought a mug of hot rich broth from a house and it was for the first time for several days when I could eat something.
��� In the morning a truck stopped in the yard, in the body of which wounded Germans were sitting along the boards. I was plunged in to them. Having seated on the floor, I accidentally leaned against the bandaged � probably frost-bitten - legs of a German who was sitting on a seat. When I saw that, I shrinked back from him, because I was afraid to hurt him.. He took me over my shoulders and leaned me against his feet.

��� The truck was running along a wide highway, both sides of which were deforested for a width of 300-400 meters in order to avoid a hidden approach of Partisans. We have arrived to the German hospital. The Germans were taken right away, and I was left in the truck, because they refused to take me. The Germans � a truck�s driver and a soldier who accompanied the wounded - have been discussing some matter for some time, obviously having no idea what to do with me. Two armed Germans wearing helmets approached in the motorcycle with a machine-gun, one of them had an oval metal plate on his chest. I supposed it was a patrol. The truck moved, probably according to the direction that they showed and brought me to the outskirts where a brigade of Russian prisoners-of-war had been working under the surveillance of escort.

��� They were accommodated in the round collective barrack that was like a reservoir for oil products surrounded by the fence of barbed wire. A stove was heated in the centre of the barrack, plank beds were located along the perimeter. A senior man and a medical attendant, also prisoners of war, were accommodated in a separate corner of the barrack. The medical attendant lanced my valenok and unreeled with difficulty, while I was groaning and moaning, my shrinked bloody foot bindings that stucked together. My shot leg looked horrible. On the left side below my knee there was a perforating bullet wound, on the right side instead of a calf there was a hole with ragged edges thick with green pus. Having no disinfectants within easy reach, the medical attendant cleansed the wound with boiled water and bandaged it with cotton fabric which was previously inserted between a clean rag. There was no bleeding from the wound but gradually the bandage got soaked with blood.

��� Prisoners of war were occupied in a slaughter, stocking carcasses which had been delivered to Germany. They were fed with slop made of low quality giblets - lungs, kidneys, legs and heads. The slop was quite edible and high-calorie. I was also brought a tin of this slop.

������������������������������ 2. Luninetz.

��� Next day - I do not remember for sure - it seemed to be a horse cart in which I was driven off to the place named Luninetz where in the centre of the city in a two-storied building over a metal forged fence there was an assembly point for wounded prisoners of war. There were about 100-150 of us - people from different sectors of front and of various ranks (there was even a colonel among us). Two Russian prisoner-of-war doctors rendered medical care to the wounded. I cannot but admire their self-sacrificing work. Having no medical instruments at hand, operating with knifes and saws of various sizes and using a grout of yellowish liquid (seems to be called "revanol") instead of disinfectants, they cleansed fuzzy carrion wounds from early morning till late at night. They cut open without anesthesia, sewed up and even amputated, made bandages out of German crepe paper which stretched like a rubber.
Daily food allowance consisted of pica of stale bread - which is worth telling a separate story - and a half-liter of skilly, made of turnip and dried vegetables that were cut in figures called for some reasons "colerabia" - it might have been kohlrabi. Sodden in water, these vegetables got transparent and could hardly remain nutritious. The presence of fats in skilly was not at all disclosed. As for bread, it was a loaf of 2,4 kg weight, wrapped in numerous layers of impregnated paper. On paper there were printed a place and a year of baking. As a rule, it was either 1939 or 1940. Bread was baked from a stiff dough on a sawdust bedding and was meant for long-term storage. Since the date of its expiry, as I suppose, was over, it was fed to prisoners of war. A loaf of bread was meant for 10 people. It was given out in the morning along with "tea" - a cistern of boiling water, slightly sweetened with saccharine and serviced with some herb. The skilly was given out for dinner and after that no food was supposed to be given till the next morning. It is clear that people starved under such food allowance. People of massive build suffered more than others. All conversations added up to gastronomic recollections. There were discussions on methods of cooking of various dishes, which were the subjects of much controversy that often ended in fights. Finally some of prisoners of war tried to stop it demanding to change this subject.
��� By mutual consent doctors and medical attendants who volunteered to carry out defecations from under bed-patients were given an additional portion of skilly.
Days after days have been passing so monotonously that I do not remember how much time I spent in Luninetz. In this period the swelling in my head fell down, my eye turned out to be uninjured. Only under my right brow for a long time there was a hard to the touch painful moving knot of muscle. Evidently it was something blunt that striked me, not a fragment. I do not know what actually happened, I can only suppose, recollecting a battle situation, that I got a blow by a wooden hilt of a German trench bomb which exploded at some distance. I began to hear quite well on my left ear again, but the right one remained deaf as before. Since that time in conversations I got used to look at the mouth of my interlocutor but not in his eyes, compensating the lack of hearing by guessing the words at his lips moving.







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