TWENTY-FIVE EURO FROM FRAU Elsa
"Dear Mr. Bondarev!
I`m sorry that this letter is not found you a decade ago. Until recently, I was in full confidence that the prisoners of Stalag "Sandomierz", the commandant of which was my father in 1941-42., Already no one alive. I am aware that the normal compensation for what you get up over the camp, nor can there be. But you will help me very much and gladden me if you agree to take me to a small but permanent assistance. Since I am a church musician and a very modest income, I can pay you 25 euros. I hope that I will be healthy and able as they are now, speak every week.
And another request. If it is possible, and will not cost you too much effort (and only in this case!). Could you describe all the things that you remember about the camp? My father told me terrible things, terrible details into which no one here does not even want to believe. Not if you can remember: as if he himself took part in the executions and torture?
I know one thing - my father until his death in 1949, suffered heavily from his guilt in front of you. And my parents, I think, would approve me if I now try to at least do something for you - alas, too little and too late.
Your Elsa V.
- Well, it is just something my father could not be tormented conscience! - Nikolai Bondarev helplessly twists in hand brilliant packaging validol. His face was still gray: During our conversation the memories he had three grab heart.
Sandomirskiy Stalag Bondarev seemed almost paradise. Compared with what had already been through.
In September 1941, Ukraine Sergeant signalman Nikolai Bondarev was captured - reeling from a concussion, a broken head. Next - a long and terrible camps chain, similar to each other, differing only in the details. Under Poltava on fenced with barbed wire endless collective farm field captives lay side by side, income from untreated wounds, hunger and despair. Who came to the wire - shot. What there was of our - a thousand? tens of thousands? Then - Kremenchug, recent military warehouses. Here, we are dying of thirst, and the Germans had fun that come near to drink from a puddle - and then opened fire. Commissars and Jews shot yet at Poltava, is angling for those who had taken refuge (or looked like). We collected by three: one put on all fours, the second planted him on his back, a third were given a stick in his hands - and drove in a circle, while the first did not fall exhausted; he finished off with a laugh, put on all fours next ... The rest of the prisoners were forced to watch, and heart gripping horror with us tomorrow as well.
Proskurovsky camp - the most bitter: over an open field, barbed wire, thirst and hunger ... The food slops from nadergat nearby beetroot. They were cooked as pulled - with the ground. I went dysentery, from the remains of a torn form myriads lice crawling began typhus (ill were shot), plus the approaching cold, hopelessness. How to find today historians Proskurov became a place of death for thirty thousand of our prisoners of war. It was a conscious and deliberate destruction. In Kamenetz-Podolsk is continued. There are, in addition, death and found a specific person - straholyudnuyu, wide Ryashko former medic Babayev. He went into policemen, walked swiftly, looking greedily at pood fist was wrapped sailor of heavy belt with a buckle. Babayev was arguing with the Germans, that buckle to any prisoner breaks his head with one blow ...
And in Sandomierz - well organized ... Disinfection, brought lice. Doctors examined the wounded. Though starving, but fed with gruel was thicker, posytnee even potatoes come across. A no order.
Richard von Gossman
Wehrmacht Lieutenant Colonel Richard von Gossman Sandomierz was the commandant of Stalag 359.
It`s a shame. A key figure in our history - and we about it know practically nothing. I ask Bondarev: remember this? Nikolai guilty smile: no. Logically - saw every morning at nine was to build on the parade ground was a German officer said - the camp. But ... High, low, fat, skinny - do not ask, do not remember. Sixty years have passed. And what about all remember Sandomierz? I remember that there lived a little. Another of our hut was visible slide and spring, and green trees on the hill began ...
About von Gossman it is known that at the beginning of the war he was an elderly man, a professional soldier. Due to the age I was not on the front line and in the rear part. Before transfer to Sandomierz he served under Bordeaux commandant of Stalag French prisoners of war ( "Stalag" - camp for enlisted men). The difference in approach to the French, and Soviet prisoners of war shook him. That is the background Gossman certainly knew of the Soviet people do not consider, but it is one thing to know, and the other - to witness! I am personally involved!
It seems a clear and measured gear mechanism was of the wrong alloy. For a while it rotates, then there was metal fatigue. In May 1942, Lieutenant-Colonel von Gossman was discharged from the army due to heart disease. By the way, replaced by his deputy, Major Frayber, after some time shot - interesting, too, I could not resist?
Richard von Gossman died in 1949. He left a diary. More precisely, the blog is not just a common notebook, where mixed chaotic records, thinking about God, the soul and conscience, and suddenly - very colorful, merciless to themselves and others describe what was happening in the camp, in Germany at all.
Diary today kept by his daughter. By the time of his father`s death she was six years old. Today - sixty. The same Frau Elsa.
We deliberately do not call her name and change the name. The reason - just below. Let`s just say that Frau Elsa lives in a small village in the south of Germany. Retired, he moonlights as organist in the church. Her husband is also a retired forester. Quiet, very religious family.
Nikolai Bondarev - Frau Elsa
Dear Elsa V.!
Your letter I am very touched by your compassion and a clear desire to ask for forgiveness for all the cruelty and mistreatment of our prisoners of war during the war in 1941-45. Immediately and very sincerely I want to assure you and reassure. Translations into Sandomirskiy Stalag-359 for me and the other was some salvation. (S) The camp-359 I have not seen or experienced the abuse and beatings. I did not see the shooting. There were relatively tolerable conditions for life: the room for sleeping, eating, though scanty, and others.
From your letter I presented to you and your parents how kind people. During an extended stay in labor camps for prisoners of war in Berlin and then after his release from captivity, I met a lot of good Germans, and kept them very good memories. I heartily thank you very much for your letter and for taking care of the memory of us. I am very grateful to you for your willingness to help me financially. Be healthy and happy. With sincere respect to you.
"A lot of" good Germans came across or less - a conditional question. Any manifestation of humanity at that time remains in memory forever. After Sandomierz, he was sent to the mines in Silesia - Polish miners, though spared Russian, but from the brigade asked to remove: goner inhibits all. The plant near Berlin was sweeping the yard ... However, when during the American bombing filled up in ruins, the German doctors from the hospital in Spandau pumped out - it was. And more ... Once a bakery Bondarev sent to work, but he was weak, on the shoulders of abandoned bag - did not carry, fell in the yard. Lying in the snow prickly - and realizes that nothing to live on. Suddenly someone gently lay next to a loaf of bread. Bondarev grabbed her and began to cry: he even forgot that the bread is in a loaf.
Finishing the story about his fate. In April, the 45th guards fled the camp, the prisoners went to meet our who took Berlin. The decrease in manpower was a giant, all on the move stuck in the hands of the rifle and rushed to the attack: "Bathe guilty blood!". Bondarev and "bathed" - violently, without sparing himself. After the war he served in the army. Passed all tests, he was admitted to the institute. He rose to chief of department of "space" of the plant. But, when one wanted to change their place of work, the director`s eyes narrowed, "You know, Bondarev, where I had to vouch for you?". The words "was a prisoner" - a stigma for life. Until now forced to make excuses. Although - for what?
Remember - Frau Elsa asks Bondarev take the money? Please do not random. Germany decided that the victims of Nazism citizens of other countries should receive financial compensation. Created by the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future", the Bundestag passed a law that defined the category of those who put money. In Russia, Belarus and Ukraine "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" fund of funds represent national understanding and reconciliation. Payments are prisoners of concentration camps and ghettos, those who were taken to work in Germany, children who have been deported ... holy and good work.
However, former prisoners of war is not in the list of victims. However, not only the Soviet. There are no Americans or the French or the Poles, or English ... Legal hitch: the prisoners were civilians. So, they can not be considered victims. And again, what our prisoners of war are different from other countries?
But, excuse me! Do not compare the same flour Bondarev and conditions, which contained, for example, in their camps the Americans! The figure speaking for itself: in a Nazi prisoner killed 3.3 million Soviet soldiers. 57% of the total number of our prisoners. By comparison, Americans in captivity died 2%, Poles - 4% of Italians (after the fall of Mussolini, the Nazis considered them traitors and treated badly) - 4.4%.
International rules of war content defined by the Geneva Convention in 1929. Stalin it, as we know, did not sign, what is considered a formal explanation of Hitler`s policy towards captured Soviet soldiers and officers. The question of the possibility of compensation to victims of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union began to actively discuss the restructuring. The result can be regarded as an agreement Kohl and Yeltsin`s 1992 "On humanitarian settlement". Then you can tell a lot as determined by the category of victims as compensation allocation mechanism was built - it is not important in this case. And it is important that as a result of one of the former prisoners of war compensation recipients are not logged in (although there are some reservations, for example, prisoners of war, who were sitting in the extermination camps equated to prisoners of these camps). Why are not logged in - a separate conversation. But are not logged in. And there - the train has left. It starts implementing logic.
Gunter Zaathof General authorized the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" (Germany) in cooperation with partner organizations - "Izvestia":
- Why is the fund does not make payments to former Soviet prisoners of war?
- The answer is simple: the compensation is paid only to civilians affected by the hostilities. Such was the decision of the world community. Neither the German lawmakers, nor the world community, as far as I know, are not ready to take the liberty to decide which soldiers were injured in the war over, and which are not.
- Do not you think that the situation with the Soviet prisoners of war a few individuals?
- The situation is different with individual groups of prisoners endlessly debated, and this applies not only to Soviet soldiers, but also Polish, Italian ... But the current law no reparations for these people is not provided. If the German government considers it necessary to revise the law, and change the order of payments.
The Russian Fund of mutual understanding and reconciliation understand the ugliness of the situation. Tatyana Sokolova, a spokesman for the fund, gave an example: the three old men, the Germans were working on a brick factory. Two were "Ostarbeiter": ordinary Soviet citizens, exported to work. The third - a prisoner of war. Equally toil equally hungry, they beat the same supervisors. "Ostovtsam `compensation is put. No prisoner of war.
- And we have to look the man in the eye, choosing his words, to explain the difference in the paragraphs of the German law. And what can you do? Our fund with payments governed by its provisions.
Again Frau Elsa
For Frau Elsa all the controversy about sections of the victims of categories - blowing bureaucratic fog. She knows that somewhere out there, in Russia, is considered a penny to pension sick, exhausted old men in my life that was a terrible page - German captivity. It turned out that her father had been involved to this page. And yet - no need of words, it is better, as they say, to help financially.
But Frau Elsa - not a rich man. All support is not. I went the other way: had found two people who were once in Stalag her father - Nikolai Bondarev and Stepan Maksimushkin with Ryazanschine. I decided to help them concretely, to send to each of twenty five euros pension. Two twenty-five - fifty decent part of the pension.
Kin to this step disapproved. Frau Elsa`s three children, she herself was ill - recently underwent surgery. What kind of eccentricities? Money is nowhere to go?
Because Frau Elsa and does not want her name was called in the newspapers. It is not their Euro glory sends. And it does not need fanfares God`s work.
Is this an isolated case? Not isolated. Georgy hollnich, chairman of the Russian association of former prisoners of war, in our conversation told: for prisoners of Stalag "Shtukenbrokk" collect money residents of North Rhine - Westphalia. "His" prisoners of war helps the municipality of Marburg. There are examples of repentance for the Germans - not an empty word. But as it is, so to say, the public initiative.
It always comes back to the same German law "On the establishment of the Federal Foundation" Remembrance, Responsibility and Future "- it defines the categories of victims. And the Berlin lawyer Stefan Tashyan conceived an incredible deal in November 2002: to achieve this change one of the fundamental legal acts in Germany.
Tashyan appealed to the Berlin Administrative Court with a claim against the Ministry of Finance and the German Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future". Syrian Armenian by origin, Stefan Tashyan spoke on behalf of 82-year-old Ishkhan Melkonian and 79-year-old Pargev Zakaryan, Armenian citizens (the moment of national solidarity has played a role, but so what - most importantly for business use!), Once the Soviet soldiers who survived German captivity (find them helped the Russian association of former prisoners of war). Tashyan asked - no, no compensation, and the confirmation of the plaintiffs the right to receive it. It was important to set a precedent. Recognize the right of Melkonian and Zakharyan - we can talk about the rest.
The precedent was unsuccessful. On March 4, the court dismissed the claim. Arguments few. Main - Germany compensation pursuant to its moral and historical debt, but not a legal obligation; because the state can not be required to pay anything in addition to what she has voluntarily agreed.
Stefan Tashyan not give up. He filed a second lawsuit. On his moral support Tashyana Action said a lawyer representing the interests of Italian prisoners of war. The court is scheduled for June 18.
The historical fate of Soviet prisoners of war and ostarbeiters - a topic which for many years has been Professor Paul field. He is one of the leading experts. That he was approached Frau Elsa with a request to find the former prisoners of Stalag 359. Paul field ready historical substantiation of the claim Stephen Tashyana.
- The problem ... The German side comes from the fact that the Soviet prisoners - prisoners of war are the same as the rest. Just in the war on Stalin`s fault they were not protected by the Geneva Convention, it is defined and their terrible fate (that fate was terrible - no one denies). But since they are the same as the others, the decision to pay compensation for Soviet prisoners of war automatically entails a requirement to pay compensation to prisoners of war and other countries. We put the question differently: precisely because the Soviet prisoners of war were not protected by the Geneva Convention, they can not be considered as prisoners of war. We have to admit the obvious fact that this is another category of victims of Nazism. Because the Nazi policy towards our prisoners had the character of genocide. Simply put, they were slaves of the Reich, the slaves, who were killed by overwork, hunger, often for a reason - because they do not know what to do, because there was no one to intercede.
- Germany has decided to atone. As goodwill is spending a lot of money to pay compensation to tens of thousands of people. Do you like Germany would say no, you have to pay for the fact and tem