January 8-13, 1945

Stress warning: reference to sexual violence

January 8th, 1945.

There was no paper, and I did not write anything for a long time. Got out of the rest home and went to General Ponomarev, a member of the Military Council, to see to my goal – getting back to the front. Was sent to the commander of the 5th army, Colonel-General Krylov.1 With great difficulty I persuaded him to let me into the next offensive on February 5th, and he will give me a document to let me into the offensive. Headed for the girls to be given a new uniform, as I was poorly dressed. Ponomarev told me to do a lot, but now I see he does not carry out all orders, and it’s all just words. I sat the whole day waiting for Ponomarev, but I achieved my goal. I was quickly equipped – a sniper’s fur coat and a special jeep to take me to the medical battalion, happy. Got a coat, boots, camouflage overalls; froze on the trip, but at least I made it, and then into the freezing trenches. The overcoat has gotten short, I grew this year, and I did not like it at all; traded for a telogreika.

Went to the 157th rifle division with the girls. I did not know! My friends Sasha [Ekimova] and Toska got married. Lord, there were four girls, no, five remaining out of the twenty-seven. I don’t know what to make of this, only I’m afraid of not finding a safe place to sleep, because some girls were raped, and so easily, like before; I did not stay overnight. Sleep in the cold, today spent the night by some Lieutenant-Colonel, kiss – well there, and before I knew it, goes deeper. I tell myself lies, I say.

Yes, in my absence a good girl, Tanya Kareva, was killed. Her friend Valya L. came out of the hospital after being wounded and found out – no Tani, Valya cried. Valya Lazarenko: 25, good character and lovely, tall blonde, loves horses badly. She is one of the best independent girls in the whole platoon. In the past she graduated from the seventh class, worked at the FZO, graduated from the FZO school.2

Well, now, I’m going to fix a watch. It will get warmer, in February I’ll run away to the front. For repelling a counterattack (it was hot, risked my life) was awarded the medal “For Courage.”

January 13th, 1945.

Did not sleep all night, I feel bad, sick. Germans hit hard. Today our barrage lasted from 9 to 11:30.3 The first “Katyusha” gave a signal. Oh, and we peppered Fritz. Now the situation is still unclear. We have itchy feet.4 Oh, Lord, the noise in the dugout. The dugout is low, filled with smoke, pallets made into bunks. Just finished work again, and we advance further. Freezing, in wet boots, in frozen boots. Everyone takes coats, but I’m a northerner, and don’t need one; it is hard to walk.

2 A vocational or technical school, usually associated with a specific factory, mine, etc.

3 Start of the East Prussian Offensive (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Prussian_Offensive)

4 The phrase in Russian is “Настроение чемоданное” (Nast-ry-eenee chemo-dan-nay), literally “Spirits are a suitcase.”

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