For the Soviet Union, the Great Patriotic War caused more casualties than any other combatant country. Via Metafilter, I came across this repository of memoirs of Soviet soldiers.

Sapezhnikov Alexei Ananyevich fought in Manchuria defeating the Japanese.

At that time we didn’t know what the future may hold. I walked in the Manchurian mud, shaded food, tobacco and weight of backpacks with my brothers in arms, took part in attacks, lost friends but I always was sure about our victory. I saw many frightful things – T-34 explosed by Japanese suicide soldiers under Mu Dan Chan, pillboxes with fanatics chained themselves to machinegun, friendly fire from our airforce, convoy of 10 000 Japanese prisoners to Grodekovo, rejoicing of Chinese. And finally – Victory!

Nina Erdman was drafted as a medic in a band of irregulars made up of old men and teenage girls.

What are opolchentsy [member’s of the people’s militia, irregulars] anyway? They knew nothing, couldn’t do anything. None of these old people, who might have served at one time, could do anything. Many didn’t know to shoot a rifle. The Germans attacked us. Everything was like in the movies – they surrounded us. You would see a wall moving right at you! And there we were, just the old men and us. We fled immediately, how could it have been different?!

Alexandra volunteered and trained herself to be a sniper. She was sent to Orsha.

I remember how I killed my first fascist. Together with my partner Zina Vershinina we occupied our sniping positions. While observing enemy positions, I spotted a machinegunner. I aimed and shot. It was unclear whether I hit him or not. But when I returned to the detachment, everyone already knew I’d killed an enemy. An artillery observer reported this. He saw it in his periscope, how the enemy machine gunner was killed. Everyone was joyous, they hurries to congratulate me. And I wept, for I had to kill a man…

Moving stuff.

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