This year marks the twenty-year anniversary of the triumphant end of my military service. Shortly after my long-awaited discharge from the Engineer Corps in June of 1990, the American Secret Services sensed a weak spot in the pontoon troops where I had served and used it to break up the Soviet Union. Of course, it was unthinkable while I was still in service; my fierce looks used to send the enemy running for their lives.
Today is the Soviet Army and Navy Day – a long-renamed holiday of a long-gone country. 20 years ago I couldn’t imagine being nostalgic thinking about my military service. But here I am – it was a time uncomplicated by work, taxes and raising kids and now it doesn’t seem like such a horrible way to spend two years of one’s life. So instead of rewriting my last year’s post I will share a few music videos on the subject.
This song is called “We Are The People’s Army”:
And lastly – world-famous Kalinka, here you can find the lyrics and sing along.
Continue reading →
For thousands of years alcoholic beverages drastically improved countless holiday parties on every continent in every political and social system. Here is an appropriate illustration from the Life Magazine Archives taken in Leningrad in 1956.
Caption reads:A party at the home of a so-called “typical Soviet worker”, the Dmitriev family. The father, a skilled metal worker, is actually a member of the Communist Party & does much side work for it, so they live far above working class average. (the line about side work for the Communist Party doesn’t make any sense to me, not sure what it means).Continue reading →
Kansas City, MO. When Kansas City’s most famous beer blogger Bull E.Vard was standing in the middle of the cavernous Twin Cities IKEA updating his Facebook with the message about tasting “smoked roe cheese spread” he didn’t know he was texting the beginning of a love story. “I just felt like I needed to share the news with the world”, said Mr. Vard during the phone interview, “I am a big believer in the social media and this was something I wanted all my readers to know”. Another Kansas City blogger meesha.v was on the verge of giving up hope of finding love. After a few short affairs with the salmon-flavored cream-cheese and onion dip he almost resolved to live out the rest of his life without finding the someone he could love. She had to be cheesy, but not overly so, with complex slightly fishy taste; looks mattered too. When he read Bull’s message:
I sampled a surprisingly good smoked roe cheese spread. I may bring home a tube of it.
he immediately knew that this could be the one. Being Swedish was a definite plus. He asked Bull E.Vard to pick up a few and waited impatiently.
Last Friday under the H&R Bloch clock tower they were finally reunited. “I slept only 3 hours in the past three days” said excited m.v., “but it was totally worth the wait”. It was love at the first sight. Co-workers and friends noticed immediate change in m.v. “He used to be so sad and now there is a twinkle in the back of his eye” said one anonymous tipster. m.v. is not sure about his plans for the future, but one thing is clear: social media takes matchmaking to the whole new level. “This made a believer out of me” said m.v. “it sure did”
In real life it was even more exciting than in this press release. When Bull E.Vard delivered two tubes of Kalles Kaviar I immediately knew I should have ordered a case because that’s all I am going to eat for the rest of my life. Well, that and the delicious lingonberry preserves he was also kind enough to buy for me.
I didn’t think that anything but the real bread is worthy of the Kaviar, so I baked one.Continue reading →
Then I couldn’t stand the wait any longer:
First, I squeezed the tube:
Then, gently spread it on the bread:
Then, oooooo…ooooooo,mmmmm, there was nothing left. I needed a kleenex napkin. Must be the delicious taste of that “rapeseed oil” and “oeufs de poisson fumes”
This set of ads is about home appliances and electronics from the time when TV’s had legs but no colors, cameras used film and keyboards connected to paper.
Continue reading →
It would be nice if the colonel tried to think about and prepare an attack, to check whether everything possible is done, but oftentimes he was simply mediocre, lazy, drunk. Often he did not want to leave the warm shelter and crawl under the bullets … Often an artillery officer didn’t completely identify the targets and, afraid to take risks, shot from a distance covering an entire area, frequently shelling our own troops … Sometimes a supplier was having fun drinking and entertaining the women in the nearest village, forgetting to deliver shells and food … Or a Major would get lost using a compass and lead his battalion into a completely different area. Confusion, mistakes, deficiencies, fraud, failure to fulfill one’s duty, so typical of us in the civilian life, is more evident during the war. And for all these the price is the same – blood. Ivan’s attack and die, but their commanders sitting in the shelter keep sending them into attack again and again. It’s surprising how different the human psychology is for those who have to attack and those who observe; when you don’t have to die yourself everything seems simple – just keep moving forward!
One night, I substituted for a telephone operator at the apparatus. Communications were primitive then and calls on all lines could be heard at all points, I learned how commander Fedyuninsky talks with divisional commanders: “Your mother! Forward! If there is no advance – I will personally shoot you! Your mother! Attack! Your mother! » (Russian swearing)… Two years ago elderly Ivan Ivanovich (*Fedyuninsky), now a kindly grandfather, was telling the kids about the war on TV in completely different terms.
In a language of parable, the following occurred: the house got infested with bugs and the owner ordered the residents to burn the house down and burn themselves along with the bugs. Someone will be left to rebuild it all … We didn’t know any better and couldn’t do it otherwise. I read somewhere that the British intelligence service is preparing its agents for decades. They are taught in the best colleges; trained athletically, intellectually and become well-rounded professionals in their business. Then these agents go on to solve the world’s problems. In Asian countries, the task is given a thousand or ten thousand hastily coached people in the hope that even if almost all fail and are destroyed, at least one will accomplish his mission. They have neither the time nor the means to prepare and lack experienced instructors. Everything is done in a hurry – not enough time, not enough planning, or if there was an effort it turned out to be misguided. Everything is done reflexively, by intuition, by sheer numbers. That’s how we fought. In 1942, there was no alternative. A Wise Master in the Kremlin knew it all too well and kept pressing his iron will, ordering the only thing he could: “Attack!” And we attacked and attacked and attacked … And the mountain of corpses at the Pohost, and many other areas and nameless heights grew, grew, and grew. That’s how the Victory was hammered out.
If the Germans had managed to infiltrate our command staffs with spies, and the troops with saboteurs, if there was mass treason and enemies would develop a detailed plan to collapse our army, they would not have achieved the effect which was the result of the idiocy, stupidity and irresponsibility of the authorities and helpless submission of our soldiers. I saw this near Pohost, and as it turned out, it was like this everywhere.
The war has exposed the underside of the Bolshevik regime. Just like during the peacetime when they conducted detentions and executions of the most hardworking, honest, intelligent, active and bright people, they continued to do it on the frontlines, but in a more open and revolting form. Here is an example. From the high command came and order: take over a heights. The regiment stormed it week after week, losing a lot of people every day. Replacements were moved in constantly, there was no shortage of people. But among them were swollen from hunger residents of Leningrad, who were prescribed bed regime and high-calorie diet for three weeks by the medics. Among them are youngsters born in 1926 who fourteen and not eligible for the military draft … “Forrrward!!! “and nothing else. At last, a soldier or a lieutenant, a platoon leader, or captain, commander of the company (rarely), seeing a crying shame, exclaims: “You can’t sacrifice the people like this!. There, on top of the height, there is a concrete reinforced firing point! And we have only 76-millimeter tiny gun! It cannot pierce the concrete! “… Political officers and SMERSH immediately get involved, a tribunal is set up. One of the informers, who are plentiful everywhere, testifies: “Yes, in the presence of the soldiers he questioned our victory.” Immediately a pre-printed form gets filled out, where they only need to enter the name and the resolution: “Execute!” or “Send to the penal company!” which was pretty much the same. That’s how the most honest and responsible people got eliminated. And the rest – “Forrrward ! Attack!” There are no fortresses that could withstand the Bolsheviks! “And the Germans dug into the dirt, creating a maze of trenches and shelters. Go get them! Stupid, senseless killing of our soldiers went on. Presumably, this selection of the Russian people – is a ticking time bomb: it will explode after a few generations, XXI or XXII century, when selected and nourished by the Bolsheviks mass of scum will create new generations of their kind.
It is easy to write it, when the years have passed, when the crater near Pohost got filled up; when almost everyone had forgotten that little station; when anguish and despair are not as painful as it was then. Imagining such despair is not possible, only a person who himself had experienced the necessity to stand up and run towards death can understand it. Not someone else but namely you, and not someday, but right now, this minute, you must go into the fire, where, at best, you can get lightly hurt, and at worst – either tear up the jaw, or the stomach, or he knock out the eyes, or shred the skull. That’s you, although you want to live so badly! You, who had so much hope! You, who had not yet lived, and hadn’t seen anything in life! You, who still has the whole life ahead! You, who is only seventeen! You must be willing to die, not only now but always. Today you are lucky, death passed you by. But tomorrow there will be another attack and again you have to be ready to die, and not heroically, but without celebration, without the orchestra and speeches, in the mud, in the stench. And no one will notice your death: you will lie down in a big pile of corpses near the railroad and rot, forgotten by all, in the sticky mire of the marshes near Pohost.
Poor, poor Russian peasants! They got caught between the millstones in the mill of history between the two genocides. On the one hand they were being destroyed by Stalin, herding them with the gunfire into socialism, and now, in 1941-1945, Hitler was killing myriads of innocent people. That’s how the victory was being forged, that’s how the Russian nation was being destroyed, especially its soul. How will live the descendants of those who survived? And what will happen to Russia?
So why were they marching to the death, with a clear understanding of its inevitability? Why did they go, against their wishes? They marched not just with the fear of death, they were completely terror-stricken, and yet they marched! They didn’t have to think and justify their actions. They were too preoccupied. They just got up and walked, because they HAD to! They listened politely to the parting words of their political officers – illiterate retelling of the worthless newspaper editorials – and kept going. They were not inspired by some ideas or slogans, they just had to. That’s probably how our ancestors went to die on Kulikovo Field or at Borodino (major battles in the Russian history). It is unlikely that they speculated about the historical perspectives and the greatness of our nation … Upon reaching the neutral zone, they weren’t shouting “For the Motherland! For Stalin! “, as they write in the novels. In the line of fire one could hear the hoarse howling and thick foul language, until the bullets and shell fragments didn’t shut the screaming throats up. No one cared about Stalin when the death was near. So why now in the sixties, again arose the myth that we have won only because of Stalin, under the banner of Stalin? I have no doubt on this matter. Those who won, had either fallen on the battlefield, became alcoholics depressed by the post-war hardships. They had to bear not only the war, but also all of the post-war reconstruction of the country. Those of them who are still alive are now silent, broken. The people in power now are the ones who avoided the carnage – those who sent people to the camps, those who ordered the senseless attacks in the bloody war. They acted in the name of Stalin, and they are still crying about it. There wasn’t “For Stalin!” on the frontline. The Commissars have tried to hammer it into our heads, but the commissars did not go under bullets. I just had to vent…