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“…Letters Come to Me from Those Who Endured the Captivity”

12.04.2016

M.A.Sholokhov was one of the first to raise the theme of war prisoners in Soviet literature. His works “They Fought for Their Country” and “The Fate of a Man” aroused a great response from the readers both in our country and abroad.

In the novel “They Fought for Their Country” the prototype of the elder brother of Nikolay Streltsov, as the author said, was General Mikhail Fyodorovich Lukin (November 18, 1892–May 25, 1970), who was imprisoned in German captivity. During the Great Patriotic War, Lukin was commander of the 16th, then the 19th armies. Badly wounded he was captivated and in the concentration camp he endured the most severe hardships. M.A.Sholokhov and M.F.Lukin got acquainted in July of 1941. After the war they met several times, and Mikhail Fyodorovich shared his memories of his hardships with the writer.

In 1956, M.A.Sholokhov requested B.A.Viktorov, Lieutenant-General of Justice, to recover the good name of F.M.Lukin and said: “…Unfortunately, the attitude to all, who were captivated, is almost the same –censuring, mistrust and even persecution”. Finally the writer reminded: “Don’t forget about Lukin, sort things out… while he is alive,”– he stressed the last word and added: “Letters come to me from those who endured the captivity. Don’t take offence, to you I will be sending them.” B.A.Viktorov met with Lukin, then he studied the archival materials, where he found the documents convincingly proving, that General Lukin behaved with dignity. However as B.A.Viktorov recalled later, “those facts, which were set by the investigations and the court as early as in 1946, were left without consequences. They were either left unknown or were simply ignored. Having processed those data and summing up the results we sent our conclusions to the Ministry of Defence. And General M.F.Lukin was rehabilitated.”

The hero of the story “The Fate of a Man” by M.A.Sholokhov, Andrey Sokolov, also went through the horrors of the German captivity. Soon after the publication of the story in the newspaper “Pravda” (December 31, 1956, and January 1, 1957) letters from different readers started coming to M.A.Sholokhov. Many readers thanked him for raising the theme of the former war prisoners. Among the letters there were those from the former war prisoners of the fascist concentration camps. They for the first time shared their memories about their captivity.

There are some fragments of the letters to M.A.Sholokhov (published for the first time):

“We have read your story “The Fate of a Man” three times. This is a very good and touching book. We cried after we had read it… Morokina, Shakhova. The Kursk Region, Obolon”;

“Dear Mikhail Alexandrovich! I work as teacher. Your great creations, which have won the world fame, have always been a lodestar in my life… “The Fate of a Man” deeply touched my heart to hot tears. I was also captured when wounded and contused in Stanitsa Yegorlykskaya the Rostov Region. I was taken to many

concentration camps. During all that time I saw and endured so much that I would have never believed before that such things may ever exist, if I hadn’t had to see with my own eyes the atrocity of fascists’ torturing the prisoners. I was condemned to death. But, as you see, I have gone through everything. I can’t understand myself now, how I was left to live. Perhaps because three of my brothers died at the front of that war. Well, and one of us should be living. So I am alive. With deep respect to you. Boris Pilipyuk”;

“Dear Mikhail Alexandrovich! With great attention I have read your story “The Fate of a Man” published in the “Pravda”. I’ve taken heart. I understand that in no circumstances one can forget about his chief duty – to live, not to exist. Thank you a lot for this. Excuse my bothering you. Drozdov. January 2, 1957”;

“Dear Mikhail Alexandrovich! My best regards to you. I am Pyotr Kruglikov, your reader, admirer of your artistic works. … In your book “They Fought for Their Country” the prototype of General Streltsov’s brother is Mikhail Fyodorovich Lukin. This is very dear for me. I am aware of the hard fate of this man, whom with I had to share the atrocity of the fascist captivity. Respectfully. P.Kruglikov. January 6, 1966.”

There are lots of such letters, and they take a particular place among the readers’ letters to M.A.Sholokhov.

 

Yekaterina Karbysheva