Monday, 22 June 2015

The cranes...

In the early hours of 22 June 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union. This was the largest military operation in history, codenamed Operation Barbarossa. Over 3 million Axis powers, 3500 tanks and 600-700,000 horses were employed in the operation along a 2,900 kilometre front. This was part of Hitler's master plan to extent the lebensraum or living space for his superior race and exterminate the sub-human Slavs, or turn them into slaves.
The Soviet Union was unprepared, as Stalin has refused to believe the warnings regarding the forthcoming invasion.
This huge operation has opened up the Eastern Front which would witness the most ferocious battles and most horrific atrocities, as well as turn into the biggest graveyard for both the German armed forces and the Soviet armed forces and civilians.
Thus the Great Patriotic War started. It would take four long years and enormous losses and suffering before the war ended on 9 May1945.
The atrocities against the civilians in the German-occupied areas are well known. Whole villages were massacred and civilian hostages were routinely killed. According to the data in Wikipedia, at least 20 million Soviet civilians were killed, with the largest number of civilian deaths being in Leningrad at 1.2 million citizens.

According to Geoffrey A. Hosking, "The full demographic loss to the Soviet peoples was even greater: since a high proportion of those killed were young men of child-begetting age, the postwar Soviet population was 45 to 50 million smaller than post-1939 projections would have led one to expect."The Eastern Front was the largest and bloodiest theatre of World War II. It is generally accepted as being the deadliest conflict in human history, with over 30 million killed as a result.[7] The German armed forces suffered 80% of its military deaths in the Eastern Front...
It was by far the deadliest single theatre of war in World War II, with over 10 million military deaths on the Soviet side (out of which 3.6 million died in German captivity
The combined damage consisted of complete or partial destruction of 1,710 cities and towns, 70,000 villages/hamlets, 2,508 church buildings, 31,850 industrial establishments, 40,000 miles of railroad, 4,100 railroad stations, 40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, and 43,000 public libraries; leaving 25 million homeless. 
(see Wikipeadia, Eastern Front)

There is hardly any family in the ex-Soviet Union which hasn't been affected by the war.
My paternal grandfather died fighting in the Great Patriotic War. My Mum's father was lost in the Kursk battle, and nobody knew what happened to him. My grandma's husband served in the Navy, and was wounded, when his ship was blown up by the Nazis. He survived holding onto a floating mine for more than 8 hours before he was rescued. He didn't like to talk about the war.
The villages were my parents were born don't exist any more. My Mum and Dad grew up without their fathers.
When I was growing up, the 9th of May has always been celebrated "with tears in eyes" (as the famous song goes). This is a day of remembrance of all the sacrifice and losses.

On the 9th of May this year Russia was celebrating the 70th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany. The Moscow Victory Day Parade took place in the Red Square.
Most Western leaders stayed away from the parade because of the Russian involvement in the civil war in the Ukraine.
I am not going to start a discussion on the Ukrainian situation, I will only mention that you shouldn't believe everything written in the Western media, as the amount of propaganda is staggering. I read both Russian and Ukrainian sites and forums for the news, I have relatives in both countries, and it saddens me how easily the Western media manipulates the facts. Russia is far from innocent, of course, but the Ukraine is killing its own citizens to the applause and support from the West. Just ask the question "Qui Prodest?"

By avoiding the parade, the Western leaders have also conveniently forgotten about the part of the Soviet Union in the II World War. By not attending they didn't boycott Putin, they boycotted the common people like my grandparents who were killed in the war and scorned millions of the military and civilian deaths.

Photo credit:Photo Credit: candleshoe via Compfight cc  

In the 1960s the Dagestani poet Rasul Gamsatov has written a haunting poem The Cranes. It was later translated into Russian and turned into a song in 1969. It has become one of the most popular and loved war ballads. I wanted to add a video of the song to my blog post, but wasn't sure regarding all the copyright issues, so if you would like to listen to this beautiful song, listen to Zhuravli on Youtube (version sung by Dmitri Khvorostovsky). It is such a beautiful tribute to all the fallen soldiers who saved the world from the Nazis.
This poignant song always leaves me in tears.

It seems to me at times that the soldiers
Who didn't come back from the bloodied fields,
Didn't get buried in the earth
But have turned instead into the white cranes.

From those distant times to this day
They have been flying and calling to us.
Isn't it because of that so often and with such sadness
We stop talking and gaze in the skies.

The weary herd of cranes is flying, flying in the sky
Flying in the mist as the day is ending.
There is a small gap in their ranks,
Could that be a place meant for me?

The day will come, and together with the herd of cranes
I'll float in the blue grey haze,
Calling from the sky, like a bird,
To all of you, whom I left behind on the earth.

It seems to me at times that the soldiers
Who didn't come back from the blooded fields,
Didn't get buried in the earth
But have turned instead into the white cranes.


  1. Such a beautiful poem and a touching story of your family and your loss. I learnt long ago that the media always manipulates every situation, it's a sad state of affairs that it is so hard for people to be given the 'real truth' of events.

  2. very beautiful poem dear galina and sorry for your loss dear :(

  3. Very poignant and also very true about the different angles the media choose to show. I just had this discussion with Mike about the Channel Tunnel today. On the French news, it's all about the strikers burning tyres/hay bales and no mention of migrants. On the UK news, it's all pictures of migrants trying to get on board the lorries and cars but no mention at all of the strikers. Both versions are true but you need to see both to get the balanced truth.