The Great Patriotic War veteran, partisan shares his thoughts to the matter in accordance with the 75th anniversary of the Victory over Fascism in an op-ed
Interview with World War II veteran Alexandr Grigoryev
Alexander Filippovich Grigoryev (born in 1928) is a native of Smolensk Oblast, a region 400 km west of Moscow, and a Great Patriotic War veteran. The war began for him on July 23, 1941, when the fascists on motorbikes occupied his native village and killed his cousin. He was a member of the partisan movement since 1942. Subsequently, during the years of the Great Patriotic War, he was sent to work at a shipyard in the rear. After the war, he worked in the Komsomol, the Militsiya, and the OBKhSS. He resigned as a lieutenant colonel. He was awarded the medals: “For Valiant Labour in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945,” “For Distinction in Guarding the State Border of the USSR,” “For Distinction in the Protection of Public Order.”
– The day of May 9, 1945, found me on the road. I was transported in the back of the truck for agricultural work from the village of Dukhovshchina to the village of Yartsevo when the oncoming car reported such good news about the victory over Nazi Germany. On the road, for joy, I was throwing my only cap high up in the sky that I almost lost it. In the district center, where I arrived that day, there were only women, the elderly, and the disabled. Nevertheless, the wounded put on their orders, and all the people together began to cry with joy and shout “Hurray!”
The horrors of war were felt on me when, in 1941, the front stood near Yartsevo, Smolensk Oblast, for more than a month. The city turned into a dump of corpses, and in order to prevent them from rotting, I, a thirteen-year-old, along with my peers, was entrusted with digging them. There was an artillery division in the vicinity, and control over the point passed from hand to hand more than once, while the city was significantly destroyed. It was scary.
During the war, as a partisan, I helped the commissar of the detachment, which controlled a strip of Smolensk forests and swamps of 80 km. The partisan association in Smolenschina included 6 detachments, one of them, crossing the front line, went missing. There were constant clashes with the Nazis, as well as continuous work on freeing captives, and once we managed to put to rout a German detachment.
There is some hatred for the Nazis at heart since the Great Patriotic War left its imprint on my family. Uncle Grisha was killed and cousins died at the front. I experienced deprivations and hardships both on the front line and in the rear (working for 12 hours per day as an operator, I had to sleep in the same linen in the dust on the top of the steam units), therefore every year I await the festivities of the Victory Parade with awe. This year, Minsk successfully held a parade on a schedule on May 9.
Attention and care for veterans of the Great Patriotic War in the Republic of Belarus are felt by myself, and no one violates my rights. I can say with confidence that today I am a wealthy person, an excellent financial situation has the whole family.
In my speeches to schoolchildren, workers’ groups, including meetings held by the Council of Veterans and the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Brest, as well as in the press, I always emphasize the need for the proper moral and patriotic education of young people. It is appropriate to recall this fact: when the Nazis searched among the inhabitants of my native village for someone who would become a headman, no one took the path of collaboration, at the same time when the formation of partisan detachments began, everyone signed up. Such a people can never be defeated!
Love the Motherland, perfect themselves in your chosen craft, expand your mental capacities, improve your culture level, and never hold evil or succumb to a sense of revenge!
On the photo (from right to left): Alexandr Grigoryev (veteran), Ivan Kotlyar (Professor, Chairman of the Board of the ISHR (Belarus)).
The interview was conducted as part of the implementation of the “Tell me about the war” ISHR project in Belarus.