The Great Patriotic War veteran shares his intelligence on the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and much more

Interview with World War II veteran Pyotr Kolpakov

Kolpakov Pyotr Fedorovich (born in 1923) is a native of the Kamyshinsky district of the Volgograd region, veteran of the Great Patriotic War. He is a starshina (~sergeant major). During the Battle of Stalingrad, he was seriously wounded, but after being treated in the hospital, returned at the front, taking an active part in the Battle of Kursk, the liberation of Ukraine, Poland, and East Germany. After the war, he worked on the railway for a long time. He was awarded the Order of Glory 3rd class, the Order of the Patriotic War 1st class, and was nominated for the Order of the Red Star.

– I met May 9, 1945, in the suburbs of Berlin. A large group of Hitler’s troops, surrounded near the German capital, did not want to surrender to the last, but on May 8 the Nazis surrendered. On that day, we were stacking captured weapons and ammunition until late, so we were very tired and went to sleep. At 2:00 am on May 9, the man on duty suddenly woke everyone up, “Stop sleeping, the war is over!” Jumping for joy, like everyone else, I unloaded two clips of my personal TT pistol into the air.

I was recruited into the ranks of the Red Army in May 1942, and on July 9 I was thrown at the front. My rifle unit almost immediately entered into fierce battles with the enemy for Stalingrad. On August 15, we managed to liberate the crossing of the Don, and on August 18, we detained a detachment of seven fascist intelligence spies who talked pure Russian without firing a single shot. Without tank cover, one day we had to dig trenches all night long to repel the impending Nazi tank attack and while waiting for the delivery of Molotov cocktails from the air, with the help of which we managed to shoot down 54 tanks the next day. The Battle of Stalingrad will forever remain in my memory as a turning point in the course of the Great Patriotic War.

The Battle of the Kursk Bulge was also an important stage in the combat chronicle: three tank armies, a mass of artillery, including Katyushas, which showed themselves in all their glory, forced the powerful group of the Nazis under the command of field marshal Friedrich Paulus to capitulate. According to my assessment as a direct participant, the Battle of Kursk became a radical turning point on the Eastern Front of World War II.

I highly appreciate the victory parades of this year in Minsk and Moscow, it’s a pity that Ukrainian soldiers did not come to Russia, because they also fought for a common homeland and the patriotism of the Soviet people only made it possible to achieve such a great victory. At the same time, I still cannot forgive Joseph Stalin a series of defeats and significant losses at the first stage of the Great Patriotic War.

Nowadays people treat me with great respect, from the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to rank-and-file officials. At my speeches at schools, universities, events organized by the Council of Veterans and the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Brest, I tell that, at its time, such a big loyalty and love for the Motherland allowed us to repel the treacherous attack of Hitler’s army on the USSR, committed without a declaration of war.

I wish everyone good health, recommend following my example (don’t drink or smoke, adhere to a healthy diet, including adding honey and aloe in the ration) for longevity, and, of course, only a peaceful sky overhead!

Pyotr Kolpakov

On the photo (from left to right): Ivan Kotlyar (Professor, Chairman of the Board of the ISHR (Belarus)), Pyotr Kolpakov (veteran).

The interview was conducted as part of the implementation of the “Tell me about the war” ISHR project in Belarus.