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Front Roads of Colonel Mikhail Sholokhov

08.05.2019

Tomorrow it is Great Victory Day. This sacred date of May 9 has entered in the history of our Fatherland. Remembering those who heroically fought on the fronts and honestly worked in the rear, we remember that in the ranks of the fighters, who did not spare their lives for the sake of the Victory, there was a war correspondent Colonel Sholokhov. Mikhail Alexandrovich participated in the battles of Smolensk, on the Volga, passed by the front roads up to the Germany border, was near Koenigsberg.

When the Great Patriotic War began, M.A.Sholokhov was among his countrymen. At the meeting in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya he spoke to his countrymen going to the front: “…Since the Tatar yoke times, the Russian people have never been defeated, and in this Patriotic War they will certainly come out victorious! Fascist rulers utterly oblivious of history should remember that in the past the Russian people trashed the German hordes to stop mercilessly their movement to the east, and that the keys to Berlin had already been in the hands of Russian warlords. But this time we will beat them so as we have never yet beaten them, and on the bayonets of the victorious Red Army we will bring freedom to the enslaved Europe. We are eager to hear from you only about victory. The Don Cossacks have always been in the forefront of defenders of the sacred frontiers of our country. We are sure you will continue the glorious martial traditions of your ancestors and will beat the enemy in the way your great-grandfathers beat Napoleon, your fathers smashed the Kaiser troops”.

On June 23, 1941, Mikhail Alexandrovich sent an urgent telegram to the USSR Defence Commissioner, Marshal S.K.Timoshenko: “Please, transfer the Stalin Prize of the first degree awarded to me, to the USSR Defence Foundation. At your call, at any moment, I am ready to join the ranks of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and to protect our Motherland to the last drop of my blood… Red Army Reserve Regiment Commissar, writer Mikhail Sholokhov”.

He went to the front as a war correspondent for the Sovinformbureau, the newspapers “Krasnaya Zvezda” and “Pravda”. In the personal file of Colonel Sholokhov there are records about his service in the army: August – October 1941 –Western front; October – December 1941 – Southern front; December 1941 – January 1942 – South-Western front; January – September 1942 – Southern front; September 1942 – May 1943 – Stalingrad front (Sholokhov often visited it including 1944); May 1943 – March 1945 – Western front; March – May 1945 – the Third Belorussian front.

On August 23, 1941, the war correspondent Sholokhov together with A.Fadeyev and E.Petrov came to the 19th Army commanded by I.S.Konev. There, near the Smolensk village of Vadino, he wrote an essay “Captives” (published entitled “Prisoners of War”). The former employee of the 19th Army newspaper “K Pobede” (For the Victory), Ilya Kotenko remembered: “We, the Army newsmen, were visited by Mikhail Sholokhov and Alexander Fadeyev on the second or third day of our stay in our army. By the end of the second day, Mikhail Shtilman, editorial secretary, had been submitted ready articles. Especially interesting were “Captives” by Sholokhov. We also wrote about heroism of the Soviet soldiers, but didn’t think of writing about the war prisoners …”

On February 28, 1942, the newspaper “Pravda” published an essay “In the South” which attracted the All-Union Radio. The writer was invited to the radio committee to speak on the radio. There he met with the poetess Olga Berggolts, who had come then from besieged Leningrad. A few days later Mikhail Alexandrovich gave the poetess a small letter: “When you return home, read it, please, to dear Leningraders”. On May 2, 1942, the radio sets of the besieged city sounded the words of Sholokhov: “Dear comrades Leningraders!.. We know how hard it is for you to live, work, fight in the enemy environment… We are eagerly waiting for the hour, when the circle of the blockade will be broken and the great country will nestle her heroic sons and daughters of the glorious Leningrad”.

During the war years Sholokhov published a number of front essays. On June 22, 1942, the newspaper “Pravda” published a short story “The Science of Hatred”, and in May 1943, the “Pravda” and “Krasnaya Zvezda” in several issues published the first chapters of the novel “They Fought for Their Country”.

The Victory Day was met by Sholokhov in Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya. He dictated on the phone to the newspaper “Pravda” a text of his article “The Victory Never Known by History”. It was published on May 13, 1945: “If in the world history there was no war as bloody and destructive as the war of 1941 –1945, then never any other army in the world, except our native Red Army, has won more brilliant victories… In East Prussia, after the capture of the city of Eidtkunen by our army, on the wall of the railway station, next to the German inscription “To Berlin – 741.7 kilometers”, there appeared an inscription in Russian. One of the soldiers wrote in a sprawling stable handwriting: “Anyway we’ll get there. Chernousov”. ”What great confidence is in these simple words of Russian soldiers. And they did reach it, and did even more having buried forever Germans’ crazy dreams of the world domination under the ruins of the robbers’ capital…”

For participation in the Great Patriotic War the writer was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of the first degree, medals “For Defence of Moscow”, “For

Defence of Stalingrad”, “For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941 –1945”, “The Twentieth Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War”.

The National M.A.Sholokhov Museum-Reserve keeps unique documents telling about the front years of the writer, soldiers’ letters and postwar reviews on Sholokhov’s works about the Great Patriotic War. There are lines from the front letters:

“Dear “Pravda”! Do you know what great success are the published chapters of the novel “They Fought for Their Country”? In many dugouts of the advanced front line, I saw clippings of the work by Sholokhov (a company gets only one central newspaper), and they are read again and again both by the commanders and the soldiers. So much admiration, so much controversy, and therewith –strengthening belief in the victory of our cause, was brought, I think, but not by any other work of fiction written during the war… Only consciousness that Sholokhov, an artist of such great talent, lives among us, makes us happy, raises a sense of national pride. Shpak Alexey Viktorovich, Captain. May 15, 1943. Polevaya Pochta 45964-Б”;

“I have just read a book by Mikhail Sholokhov “They Fought for Their Country”. You know, it has thrilled me to the core… I was particularly shocked by the description of the battle for the hillock. During August 30 – September 2, I had to be on such a hillock and defend it. The Germans rushed six times to attack us with tanks, but our soldiers and officers fought them off. They knew, the enemy rushed in the last agony before the filth death of his. Within 40 minutes the Germans shot out about 600 shells and mines pelleting the hillock from a six- barrel mine-thrower thinking to intimidate us with a nasty howl, but they failed. As they launched their attack, our soldiers threw them back with a strong salvo. Now we are very far from those places. But we are not frightened by getting into a scrape even tenfold more terrible, for we go forward and the hour of victory is near. Senior Technician, Lieutenant A. Fridkin. September 30, 1943. Polevaya Pochta 33097-B”;

“When I read your first excerpts from the novel “They Fought for Their Country”, it even took my breath – so great it is! This is the life! This is the realism! I read these excerpts to my soldiers. I often read aloud, but have never seen such an attentive audience and such an exciting silence. Since then, “They Fought for Their Country” has become our favourite book, which was read again and again countlessly. We glued those newspaper clippings into a notebook, which I always carry in my field bag… Besides, we have a wish. We would like our favourite hero Petka Lopakhin to go through the whole war and remain alive. For

Berlin to see him and for the whole world to wonder at the ordinary and great Russian soldier Pyotr Lopakhin… Lieutenant D.Makeyenko. March 2, 1944. Polevaya Pochta 03425”.

There are lots of such letters. Reading them we remember the words said by Mikhail Alexandrovich in 1965, the year of the 20th anniversary of the Great Victory, at the ceremony of awarding him the Nobel Prize in literature: “As a writer I saw and see my task in paying a worthy tribute of deep thankfulness to these people-toilers, people-builders, people-heroes by all that I have written and will write…” Colonel Sholokhov fulfilled his high mission with honour.

 

Olga Bakhtiyarova