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Belarusian veterans share memories of WWII

Let's return from political and hockey losses and wins back to the main victory. May 9 is the national holiday in Belarus. This is a red-letter day not only on the calendar, but also in the hearts of many people with whom the author of the next story - Yevgeny Pustovoy - met this week.

The first photo of peace in May 1945 on the steps of the Reichstag became one of the most famous around the world. Here is a group of soldiers, including Kantariya and Egorov. In the foreground, there is a boy, 13-year-old Georgy Artemenkov. He remembers when the order came to hoist the red flag over Reichstag.

Georgy Artemenkov:
There were no worse of better guys but the banner was born by Egorov and Kantariya.

Georgy's vision is not that good and injuries sometimes remind about themselves but his memory is still untouched.

Georgy Artemenkov, veteran of the Great Patriotic War:
At night, there was a noise, shouting, and a telephone girl was running around shouting: "Guys, get up! Victory!"

Artemenkov did not put his sign on Reichstag but his memory is a pioneer tie. Now it is stored in a school museum. This very flag was also on a column of the Reichstag. Now it is in the center of the main exhibition of the museum of military history of Belarus.

Veterans and partisans, home front workers and prisoners. Every third or fourth Belarusian was killed. And they all live in the memory though.

Museum archives are not covered in dust: people bring new exhibits and come to see new exhibitions.

Dmitry Karaba, great-grandson of a veteran of World War II:
I am proud of my great-grandfather. He is a true hero. He saved hundreds of thousands of lives. At a family council, we decided to convey his personal belongings to the eternal storage in this museum.

The Museum of the Great Patriotic War stores 140,000 exhibits.

This is a collage of children's drawings. 9-year-old Evgeny Nosov drew a tower clock near Bryansk and a cargo railway car. The Nazis seized the child ill with typhus together with his mother and threw out of a train.

Anastasia Stakhovskaya, researcher:
The world has good people. People found them, fed them, warmed, and supported. Since then, the whole family settled in Belarus.

Soldiers had to retreat from Brest to Moscow and back and then advanced to Königsberg, Warsaw, Vienna and finally reached Reichstag.

Aleksey Dudarevoy, Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Theatrical Figures:
I not only listened to my dad but heard a lot of stories of those who was influenced by the war. They did not poeticize it. They did not say they were heroic, they talked about their fears, famine, and how they might have been killed.

Belarusians try to speak about the war without Hollywood bravado but in a way that the whole world can hear it.

Georgy Artemenkov:
The "goldest" capital remained in Berlin, sacrificing the dearest - life. We had 29-31 people in the squad but in the Reichstag only six remained.

10,700 veterans will meet May 9, 2017 in Belarus. Ten years ago, there were three times more.

Alexei Dudarev:
Alexei Pysin wrote: "Know that when I'm gone, I went to my division." Many of them are already in their division.

Therefore, those who contributed to victory or simply saw the war, hurry to leave behind some important details.

A veteran from Lida created a biography of Belarusian aviation through the prism of his own family.

Ivan Popkov, veteran of the Great Patriotic War:
When we began we did not have our own aircraft. We mainly had foreign ones.

But he did not have an opportunity to rise into the sky on a war plane since the war had already ended. Ivan then was sent to drive trains.

Ivan Popkov:
Hunger, cold, devastation... It's scary to remember it all. You know that death is waiting somewhere around. The only wish was to live a bit longer, a bit more.

Alexei Dudarev:
My only wish is that we don't have war again. This is like a mantra, like a prayer that sounds at everyone. We don't need another war.

Vladimir Parabkovich, veteran of the Great Patriotic War:
The ship was attacked three hundred times and not bomb hit us. They fired torpedo 13 times and none hit us.

It's evident that the genetic memory of the winning nation is still alive.

Yevgeny Pustovoy, correspondent:
The campaign "We Won" is going beyond the usual framework. While earlier Belarusians traditionally came out to streets on May 9 with photos of their grandfathers, now there is another trend: people attach images of their heroes to avatars in social networks. A different format does not mean that the content has changed: we still remember and are proud of our grandfathers.

Belarusian veterans share memories of WWII