by Faina Savenkova for The Saker Blog
(translated by “G” for The Saker Blog)
Faina Savenkova is 11 years old and in the 6th grade. She lives in Lugansk, LNR (Lugansk People’s Republic). Faina has lived more than half of her life during a war, half of her life hoping for peace. She wants the children of Donbass to be heard by adults.
Her essay is important and the parallels she draws to the Second World War are both poignant and real.
The summer of 1941 was very hot. Under the scorching sun, fields burned out and small rivers drying up, the nights were still cold and dark. The country was alive. No one expected trouble to knock on the door. People, of course, understood that war could soon begin, but they tried to believe in the best, in good. Just the same as we did in 2014.
Vasily, one of my great-grandfathers turned 41 in the year 1941. He was going to go to college and dedicated to himself a year toward study, he submitted the documents. But his dreams were not destined to come true. War had come. Then, there was no going to the institute.
War can do a lot. Grind a huge number of people under its millstone, bring destruction and hunger. It can change the fate of an entire generation. Leaving marks and scars in its memory. But if you resist it, then the war slowly recedes. And we remember our heroes and how hard this victory was gained.
Is it a lot or a little – the years taken from a peaceful life? For all the people, June 22, 1941 was the date that changed life to “before” and “after”. All these long painful years, my grandfathers and relatives fought for victory and for life. The war tested them for strength, tempered character, and created new personalities from them.
And I am proud that none of them became a traitor and a policeman (the 3rd Reich used local Ukrainian nationalists as police to hunt the resistance).
My great-grandfather Vasily was an artilleryman. He broke through the encirclement (ringed in by Nazi forces) with many soldiers at that time. He could just have given up, but he broke through battling to help his own. After this, even with a concussion, he again returned to his colleagues at the frontline after escaping from the hospital because he understood he was defending his homeland, his land.
He could not have done otherwise. The whole country could not do otherwise. During this time, his mother received three death notices for him. I’m even afraid to imagine what she felt every time. But, nevertheless, later my great-grandfather fought in the war against Hitler and helped liberate Prague, serving until 1949.
My other great-grandfather and both great-grandmothers were too young, so they stayed behind.
And it is still unknown where it was harder: at the front or at home, whereas children they worked on an equal basis with adults, blistering their hands bloody with the strain.
“Everything for the front! All for victory! ” For them, these were not empty words, so no one grumbled. And everyone did what he could. After all, they believed in their innocence and in the need to defeat fascism for the sake of a future world.
Some worked for victory at the front, some – at the rear. Only one thing has not changed – the children of war grow up too quickly and too early.
It is enough to recall the feat of our Young Guard or the boys who became the sons of the regiment. No matter how many of them were too young, they ceased to be children. But still, in their naiveté, they dreamed about sweets and carefree days. And they became an invisible pillar of this victory.
I am now 11 years old. I live in Lugansk and I know what shelling or an airstrike is. Half of my life is war. I don’t know what children like me felt in that difficult and terrible 41st year (when the 3rd Reich occupied), but it seems to me that this is like everything the children of Lugansk and Donetsk are experiencing now.
Sometimes I really want to write a letter to my peers from 1941. To say many words of support to them, but then I remember their life path and I understand that everyone can envy their stamina and dedication.
The lives of those children of war are not stories of despair and broken lives. They are stories of hope, even if they are full of tragedies. And let us then, who now don’t know what tomorrow awaits us and whether it will be there for us – it is “tomorrow” and we are confidently stepping forward. We did not get broken and become stronger every day, because the strength of spirit is in our blood.
When I come to the graves of my great-grandfathers and think about them, I know that I will continue their path because we walked it together and are going in the same direction.
And I know for sure, like them, that the war will end sooner or later, and we will create a new future. We will have the memory of the sorrows of war, but also with faith in the world. A future, in the quietness of which, the children’s prayers for peace as well as their laughter will be heard. Because when a child laughs, the war recedes.