Sergey Duvanov, journalist, human rights activist (Kazakhstan)
What exactly is the dispute about? About the ribbon, which during the war was not a symbol of that war. The St. George ribbon has been made a fetish in our time by politicians who have decided to use this victory in their political interests.
For me, the main authority in evaluating this war was and remains my grandfather, who went through it from the first to the last day and met victory in Prague. And despite the fact that I knew a lot about this war from various books, I did not receive more honest and truthful information than from my grandfather. Why am I sure of this? Because not a single military expert, not a single participant in the war, not even Zhukov himself, can give the truth that two front-line soldiers could tell, each recalling their own war ... after several glasses of moonshine, snacking on grandmother's pickles and cabbage. And I, lying behind a curtain on a huge, half-hut stove, listened and absorbed these conversations, which in many ways did not correspond to the usual Soviet ideas about the war.
Mothering the last words of the Soviet government, Stalin and his fucking communist party, the grandfathers spoke about a completely different war, about which I had never read in books and had not seen in the movies.
It was a completely different war. Where there were heroes, but there were enough cowards and traitors. Where, it turns out, the Germans fought well, and ours only learned by the end of 1943. A war where our soldiers died several times more than the Germans. Because the commanders did not value the lives of soldiers, since the country's leadership was more concerned not about people, but about political expediency.
I heard a lot, lying behind the curtain, stories with names and details. About friends who were dragged out of the battlefield, about a flask of alcohol that did not freeze in the snow, about the mediocrity of commanders, when hundreds or even thousands of soldiers died because of one tyrant.
I remember how veteran grandfathers talked about their first killed Germans. They shared their feelings about how it is to kill a person for the first time. I remember how my grandfather talked about the cruelties of our soldiers in Germany. How they "dabbled" with the Germans, who resignedly fulfilled the wishes of the soldiers. As in one of the German towns, where their company entered at night, from the basement of one house there was a cry of a child and a woman's voice, calming the child, and his friend Petro threw a grenade into the darkness of the basement. And in response to my grandfather’s indignation, they say, what are you doing, you son of a bitch, the Ukrainian snapped angrily: shut up, your children and your wife alive and healthy in your Siberia are waiting for you, but because of these fascists, mine are no more. Say, this is for the death of children. And he walked and cried, sobbing.
There were a huge number of such stories, and some had to be heard several times. As a result, I took out the main thing: the most vile and disgusting thing in the world is war. All the meanest, basest and most dirty things on earth are committed precisely in war. It seems that grandfather hated the war for this. When sober, he preferred not to talk about her, much less recall something from his military past. He did not like to watch films about the war. And if I managed to persuade him to watch some Soviet propaganda film about the war, then after watching it, leaving the village club, my grandfather was indignant: “Is this a war! It wasn't like that".
He never went to school, where, as a participant in the war, they sometimes tried to invite him to May 9 to tell schoolchildren about the war, about victory. He never put on his orders and medals. And he had more than half of the box from under the FED camera. I remember exactly that there was also the Order of the Red Star. It was I who later realized that my grandfather was a hero, and if I had forced him to put everything that was in the box on his jacket, then his chest might not have been enough. Then he was just a grandfather for me, who sometimes “broke through” when drinking and he told stories about a real non-cine war. But these stories were not in vain.
Only now I am beginning to understand my grandfather. Yes, he honestly fought in this war, but he never trumped it publicly. Because in his understanding, killing and being killed even in a just war is all too bad. I think that the war was an absolute evil for him, and he could not be proud of participating in it. Here I agree with him - you cannot be proud of what you despise.
He recognized the victory over the Nazis, and said so: “And yet we won!” And every time he clarified that they won not thanks to Stalin, the communists, but in spite of them. And God forbid I know the price of this victory!
I know for sure, revive now, he would not understand the essence of the passions around the St. George ribbon. I think it would be wild for him to see that his tribesmen are foaming at the mouth arguing about a victory that they had nothing to do with, about a war that they have not seen with their own eyes and that they really do not know. It is good that he does not see and does not know all this.
This is a war of those who fought on it, and it should remain in the memory of posterity, in history with the symbols that were then. These are the banners of that war, their orders, medals, and of course the memory of them, passed down from generation to generation. All! This war belongs to the few veterans and their contemporaries who remain among us. There is no need to invent anything, they did not have a St. George ribbon as a symbol of victory! It is impossible to reshape the past to please the political conjuncture of the present.