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WWII: Women of the Red Army 70 Years ...
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

This collection features portraits of women veterans of WWII who volunteered and were conscripted to serve in the Soviet Red Army. As Moscow filled up on May 9, 2015 to celebrate 70 years since Victory in what the Soviets called, and some Russians today call the Great Patriotic War, TTM contributor Jonathan Alpeyrie was able to meet and interview nine of these women, most of them grandmothers today, donning their military decorations for the festivities.

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Born in 1925, 90 year-old Nina has two children, five grand children, and 5 great grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in 1943 on the 4th Ukrainian front. At 16 years-old Nina was incorporated into a battalion following the army’s move Westward towards Prague, where she took part in the battle to retake the capital of Czechoslovakia in early 1945. During her time on the front she was in charge of various traffic regulation duties. 

“I took care of traffic regulations on the road leading to the front lines where vehicles and troops were passing," she recalls. She remembers also being afraid of the intense fighting going on around her at the time, especially in Western Ukraine where the fighting was very hard. "We fought for the unity of the Ukraine, and what is happening now is incomprehensible," she says sharply when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. "It is bad for everyone."

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Alexandra has two children and five grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in the town of Kalatch in the Voronezh region of central Russia, she was transferred to the front lines in December 1941, only 17 years old. 

“I was a nurse in a train hospital which moved along the front lines," she recalls. The hospital train would pick up the wounded and carry them back away from the fighting to field hospitals. “Some days, there were so many wounded soldiers that we were forced to travel on top of the train cars!” Alexandra remembers. In 1943, she fell ill and was sent to Tbilisi Georgia to recuperate. It is there that she met her future husband. “My most vivid memory was the day of our victory on May 9th 1945. We danced so much that day..."

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

 

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Women of the Red Army 05
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Alexandra has two children and five grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in the town of Kalatch in the Voronezh region of central Russia, she was transferred to the front lines in December 1941, only 17 years old.

“I was a nurse in a train hospital which moved along the front lines," she recalls. The hospital train would pick up the wounded and carry them back away from the fighting to field hospitals. “Some days, there were so many wounded soldiers that we were forced to travel on top of the train cars!” Alexandra remembers. In 1943, she fell ill and was sent to Tbilisi Georgia to recuperate. It is there that she met her future husband. “My most vivid memory was the day of our victory on May 9th 1945. We danced so much that day..."

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Women of the Red Army 06
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Alexandra has two children and five grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in the town of Kalatch in the Voronezh region of central Russia, she was transferred to the front lines in December 1941, only 17 years old.

“I was a nurse in a train hospital which moved along the front lines," she recalls. The hospital train would pick up the wounded and carry them back away from the fighting to field hospitals. “Some days, there were so many wounded soldiers that we were forced to travel on top of the train cars!” Alexandra remembers. In 1943, she fell ill and was sent to Tbilisi Georgia to recuperate. It is there that she met her future husband. “My most vivid memory was the day of our victory on May 9th 1945. We danced so much that day..."

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Women of the Red Army 07
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1931, 85 year-old Zinaida has one child, and one grand child. She was drafted in to the Red Army as part of a Ukrainian partisan outfit near the town of Hmelnick in Western Ukraine.

“I was 12 years-old when German soldiers took over our house. We fled to the forest with my brother Maxime. There, we managed to join a Communist partisan group," she recalls. “I would cook for the soldiers as well as provide important information for them by spying on German troops' movement. I remained with the same partisan unit for the entire war." By the end of the war, the group was hiding in the Carpathian Mountains. Her greatest memory of the war is the ‘Katioucha' song Red Army soldier sang when they liberated her native village, she tells us.

Zinaida left Ukraine in 2008 in order to join her only daughter in Russia to live together. When asked about the current conflict in Ukraine, she says, “I miss Ukraine a lot. We left some family there, and we are afraid of this new conflict."

"We will not return until the war ends," she says sadly.

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Women of the Red Army 08
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1931, 85 year-old Zinaida has one child, and one grand child. She was drafted in to the Red Army as part of a Ukrainian partisan outfit near the town of Hmelnick in Western Ukraine.

“I was 12 years-old when German soldiers took over our house. We fled to the forest with my brother Maxime. There, we managed to join a Communist partisan group," she recalls. “I would cook for the soldiers as well as provide important information for them by spying on German troops' movement. I remained with the same partisan unit for the entire war." By the end of the war, the group was hiding in the Carpathian Mountains. Her greatest memory of the war is the ‘Katioucha' song Red Army soldier sang when they liberated her native village, she tells us.

Zinaida left Ukraine in 2008 in order to join her only daughter in Russia to live together. When asked about the current conflict in Ukraine, she says, “I miss Ukraine a lot. We left some family there, and we are afraid of this new conflict."

"We will not return until the war ends," she says sadly.

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Women of the Red Army 09
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1930, 84 year-old Nakia has five children, and one grand child. During the war, she was forced to work in a factory, which produced spare parts for the war effort in Tirsa, Tartastan. Working in a factory as an 11 year-old for the war effort was a sacrifice for many reasons. Each day she had to walk 30 kilometers to “go to the factory from my village, and walk each night back the same way," she recalls. Some nights she had to work nights as the heavy losses incurred on the front lines required constant work. Her most difficult memory of the war was the lack of food.

“We had nothing to eat," she remembers. "We had to scrape the earth in a near by field in order to find roots and vegetables. I was scared, scared all the time," she admits. But when victory day arrived on May 9th, she felt this was the best gift one could have given her.

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Women of the Red Army 10
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1930, 84 year-old Nakia has five children, and one grand child. During the war, she was forced to work in a factory, which produced spare parts for the war effort in Tirsa, Tartastan. Working in a factory as an 11 year-old for the war effort was a sacrifice for many reasons. Each day she had to walk 30 kilometers to “go to the factory from my village, and walk each night back the same way," she recalls. Some nights she had to work nights as the heavy losses incurred on the front lines required constant work. Her most difficult memory of the war was the lack of food.

“We had nothing to eat," she remembers. "We had to scrape the earth in a near by field in order to find roots and vegetables. I was scared, scared all the time," she admits. But when victory day arrived on May 9th, she felt this was the best gift one could have given her.

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Women of the Red Army 11
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1927, 88 year-old Ivannikova has five children, 12 grand children, and 8 great grand children. During the war she was a military train conductor in Saratov in South East Russia.

“I was in a technical high school to learn how to drive trains when the war began," she remembers. She started to drive military trains in 1943. “Most of the time we would transport ammunitions to the front lines. But sometimes, we did not know what the cargo contained, as it was secret."

Though German planes never attacked her train, she remembers being scared all the time. “I used to have nightmares each night,” she recalls. She also remembers the day of victory. She cried a lot remembering the death of so many people, but said, “it was a great day for me, because we won, and the war was finally over.”

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Women of the Red Army 13
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1925, 90 year-old Nina has two children, five grand children, and 5 great grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in 1943 on the 4th Ukrainian front. At 16 years-old Nina was incorporated into a battalion following the army’s move Westward towards Prague, where she took part in the battle to retake the capital of Czechoslovakia in early 1945. During her time on the front she was in charge of various traffic regulation duties.

“I took care of traffic regulations on the road leading to the front lines where vehicles and troops were passing," she recalls. She remembers also being afraid of the intense fighting going on around her at the time, especially in Western Ukraine where the fighting was very hard. "We fought for the unity of the Ukraine, and what is happening now is incomprehensible," she says sharply when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. "It is bad for everyone."

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Women of the Red Army 14
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1925, 90 year-old Nina has two children, five grand children, and 5 great grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in 1943 on the 4th Ukrainian front. At 16 years-old Nina was incorporated into a battalion following the army’s move Westward towards Prague, where she took part in the battle to retake the capital of Czechoslovakia in early 1945. During her time on the front she was in charge of various traffic regulation duties.

“I took care of traffic regulations on the road leading to the front lines where vehicles and troops were passing," she recalls. She remembers also being afraid of the intense fighting going on around her at the time, especially in Western Ukraine where the fighting was very hard. "We fought for the unity of the Ukraine, and what is happening now is incomprehensible," she says sharply when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. "It is bad for everyone."

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Women of the Red Army 15
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1920, 94 year-old Nagaieva has one child, two grand children, and three great grand children. Nagaieva was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the front lines near Kursk where the Soviets were battling the German army in 1943. She contributed to the war effort as a dentist, following the Soviet army’s advance through Ukraine, Eastern Europe and finally into Germany where she took part of the fall of the Reichstadt in late April 1945.

When asked how she felt about the final victory on May 9th 1945, she smiles and says, “This May 9th, I had the impression of being 19 years-old again."

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Women of the Red Army 16
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1920, 94 year-old Nagaieva has one child, two grand children, and three great grand children. Nagaieva was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the front lines near Kursk where the Soviets were battling the German army in 1943. She contributed to the war effort as a dentist, following the Soviet army’s advance through Ukraine, Eastern Europe and finally into Germany where she took part of the fall of the Reichstadt in late April 1945.

When asked how she felt about the final victory on May 9th 1945, she smiles and says, “This May 9th, I had the impression of being 19 years-old again."

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Women of the Red Army 17
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Maria was a volunteer nurse, treating Red Army soldiers on the front lines.

“When I learned about the German invasion of my country in 1941, I volunteered as a nurse in the 847th infantry regiment. Soon after joining the regiment, the entire unit was ordered to the front lines at Lipetsk in central Russia," she explains.

During the trip the regiment was attacked many times by German airplanes. Though out 1942 and 1943, she fought with the regiment into Ukraine and took part in the liberation of Kharkov, Kiev and Lviv. She continued her progress with the regiment into Germany in 1945 before being ordered towards Czechoslovakia to take part in the battle of Prague in early 1945.

“I have saved many lives as a nurse, but I was myself wounded twice," explains the veteran. “What is the hardest for me, is all the people I could not save. But I am very proud of my service to my country, defending it.”

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Women of the Red Army 18
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Maria was a volunteer nurse, treating Red Army soldiers on the front lines.

“When I learned about the German invasion of my country in 1941, I volunteered as a nurse in the 847th infantry regiment. Soon after joining the regiment, the entire unit was ordered to the front lines at Lipetsk in central Russia," she explains.

During the trip the regiment was attacked many times by German airplanes. Though out 1942 and 1943, she fought with the regiment into Ukraine and took part in the liberation of Kharkov, Kiev and Lviv. She continued her progress with the regiment into Germany in 1945 before being ordered towards Czechoslovakia to take part in the battle of Prague in early 1945.

“I have saved many lives as a nurse, but I was myself wounded twice," explains the veteran. “What is the hardest for me, is all the people I could not save. But I am very proud of my service to my country, defending it.”

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Women of the Red Army 12
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 May 2015

Born in 1927, 88 year-old Ivannikova has five children, 12 grand children, and 8 great grand children. During the war she was a military train conductor in Saratov in South East Russia.

“I was in a technical high school to learn how to drive trains when the war began," she remembers. She started to drive military trains in 1943. “Most of the time we would transport ammunitions to the front lines. But sometimes, we did not know what the cargo contained, as it was secret."

Though German planes never attacked her train, she remembers being scared all the time. “I used to have nightmares each night,” she recalls. She also remembers the day of victory. She cried a lot remembering the death of so many people, but said, “it was a great day for me, because we won, and the war was finally over.”

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Colonel Claude Mademba
Nimes
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Apr 2015

Colonel Mademba fought in North Africa and Italy with British and French forces as an infantryman against German forces.

"On May 5th 1945, I fired my last shell from my Sherman tank at Hitler's Berghof complex," he said.

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Lahcen Majid
Saint Remi
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Apr 2015

Lahcen Majid fought as an infantrymen in Italy as part of a Moroccan outfit attached to Free French forces, against the German army.

"On May 11th 1944, right before the last major push for Monte Cassino, I saw the entire countryside light up with an artillery barrage," he said. "By 2:00 a.m. hundreds of Allied soldiers were already arriving at our hospital to be treated."

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Joel D. Pasado
Los Angeles, CA
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Apr 2015

Joel D. Pasado was a rebel fighter in the Philippines against Japanese forces.

"We surrounded the hospital," he said. "The defenders fought hard, as they had to fight room to room throwing grenades and using bayonets. On one occasion I stormed a room filled with Japanese soldiers. One tried to stab me, but was shot by one of my soldiers and was killed. He saved my life."

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Portrait of a Generation: WWII Vetera...
New York City, NY
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
07 Apr 2015

The Second World War was fought by an entire generation of men from more than 60 nations. Americans, Canadians, Russian, British, Chinese, South Africans and many others fought the Japanese, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Slovaks and more, all were embroiled in a war which killed over 50 millions soldiers and civilians alike, making this conflict the bloodiest in Human history. The 1921/22-generation is today often known as a sacrificed generation, which fought for a various array of beliefs all intertwined in self-sacrifice and honor. In Germany alone 5.2 million soldiers were killed or missing in battle in a six-year period, Japan lost over 2 million men in combat, while the United States suffered 409 thousand men killed in action. However Russia holds the morbid record, with more than 10 million killed between 1941 and 1945. These astounding numbers show the brutality in which this war was fought in the air, on land and in the seas.

As a journalist, always in search for a certain historical truth within today’s framework, the stories of each of these men interviewed and photographed is a treasure of human perseverance. The project contains no pretense to judge or criticize the actions or decisions taken by these men, but it is rather a recollection of a period drastically different from ours. Their testimony is relevant in a historical sense, which should not be lost in time, as the next generations to come can and should learn from this generation.

The project itself differs from other veteran type shoots, in the sense that it tries to combine so many different nationalities. This combination was hard to achieve. It took no less than 5 years and travels to over 12 countries to meet, photograph, and interview these men. As a photojournalist, it was not only the photo shoot that was interesting, but also the search to meet these veterans, especially the ex Waffen SS and the foreign elements who fought within its ranks; and the more obscure nationalities who fought alongside major powers, like Croatians or Senegalese.

The photography project deals with as many nationalities as possible, for the simple reason that many nations were involved in the fighting. So far I have photographed Germans, Russians, Armenians, Karabastis, French, Belgium, Poles, Americans, Nepalese, Croatian, Czechs, Latvians, Japanese Americans, Pilipino, Hungarians and more…, which includes 221 men from 59 different nationalities.  Each man is interviewed on his experience through out the war. The goal of this project is to reunite as many veterans as possible from most of the nations involved in the Second World War.

FULL ARTICLE AND INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Women of the Red Army 01
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2014

Born in 1925, 90 year-old Svetlana is the mother of four children. Drafted into the Red army with the outbreak of the war as a mail woman, she was positioned in Yakoutsk Siberia. She was 16 years old when the war began with the German invasion of her country on June 22n 1941.

“I learned about the invasion by radio, and it was a real shock for me," she recalls. She was then mobilised into the Red army, and positioned at a local military post office for the entirety of the war. Her work consisted of announcing the deaths of soldiers to their families or wives. In other words, she was like an 'Angel of Death’ delivering the worst news possible to loved ones, going from house to house knocking on people’s doors with a small triangular letter in her hand. During the winters, she remembers that because it was so cold she would travel on horseback from one location to another. Svetlana never doubted that the USSR would be victorious against the Nazis. “I new it would take time, but I never doubted our final victory," she said. After the war, she continued her work in the postal service.

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Women of the Red Army 02
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2014

Born in 1925, 90 year-old Svetlana is the mother of four children. Drafted into the Red army with the outbreak of the war as a mail woman, she was positioned in Yakoutsk Siberia. She was 16 years old when the war began with the German invasion of her country on June 22n 1941.

“I learned about the invasion by radio, and it was a real shock for me," she recalls. She was then mobilised into the Red army, and positioned at a local military post office for the entirety of the war. Her work consisted of announcing the deaths of soldiers to their families or wives. In other words, she was like an 'Angel of Death’ delivering the worst news possible to loved ones, going from house to house knocking on people’s doors with a small triangular letter in her hand. During the winters, she remembers that because it was so cold she would travel on horseback from one location to another. Svetlana never doubted that the USSR would be victorious against the Nazis. “I new it would take time, but I never doubted our final victory," she said. After the war, she continued her work in the postal service.

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Women of the Red Army 03
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2014

Born in 1922, 94 year-old Lubov (which means love in Russian) has had two children, two grand children, and four great grand children. During the war she was drafted into the Red Army to work in a field hospital in Grozny, Chechnya.

“The city was always in fire," she recalls. She was 21 years old when she started to work as a nurse in the Grozny field hospital. “My task was to dress soldiers' wounds and change their bandages regularly," she explains. “I also wrote letters to the parents who lost their son in various battles." Lubov was later decorated by the Red Army for her courage during the defence of the Caucasus against German forces.

Born in Odessa, Ukraine in a Jewish family of intellectuals and scientists, when asked about the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia, she kept calm and replied with a strong sense of realism: “It is very sad what is happening in the Donbass. The Minsk accords are not being respected, and the propaganda works on both sides." She also added that Russia now is a better nation then during the USSR in terms of freedom of expression. “Before, when someone did not agree with the government, they were thrown in jail, or simply eliminated!”

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Women of the Red Army 04
moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2014

Born in 1922, 94 year-old Lubov (which means love in Russian) has had two children, two grand children, and four great grand children. During the war she was drafted into the Red Army to work in a field hospital in Grozny, Chechnya.

“The city was always in fire," she recalls. She was 21 years old when she started to work as a nurse in the Grozny field hospital. “My task was to dress soldiers' wounds and change their bandages regularly," she explains. “I also wrote letters to the parents who lost their son in various battles." Lubov was later decorated by the Red Army for her courage during the defence of the Caucasus against German forces.

Born in Odessa, Ukraine in a Jewish family of intellectuals and scientists, when asked about the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia, she kept calm and replied with a strong sense of realism: “It is very sad what is happening in the Donbass. The Minsk accords are not being respected, and the propaganda works on both sides." She also added that Russia now is a better nation then during the USSR in terms of freedom of expression. “Before, when someone did not agree with the government, they were thrown in jail, or simply eliminated!”

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Sergey Abgorian
Yereven
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
22 Feb 2012

Sergey Abgorian is an Armenian veteran who fought in the Red Army against the Germans on the Russian front during WWII.

"Chechen fighters placed two captured Russian soldiers into a small ravine as a trick and to ambush my rescue party," he said. "As we arrived to save them, the Chechens were waiting for us and started shooting. A bullet went right through my hair, and I felt it."

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Per Mortensen
Copenhagen
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
15 Feb 2012

Per Mortensen fought during WWII in Denmark against the German occupier as part of a partisan outfit.

"In June 1943 my cousin was captured by the Danish police, so a few hours later I decided to join BOPA," he said. "My cousin was put to jail for a while, but because he acted like a crazy person he was sent later to a hospital. In October, I arranged for his escape."

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Agim Karajozi
Flushing, NY
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
14 Feb 2012

Agim Karajozi is a Albanian WWII veteran who fought in his country as part of a partisan outfit against the Italian and German army.

"By the fall 1942, I joined Balli Kombetar brigade," he said. "Some of my family members made me realize what the Communists were really up to in my country, so I decided to fight against them."

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Otar Gogiashvili
Tiblisi
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
13 Feb 2012

Otar Gogiashvili is a WWII veteran from the Republic of Georgia who fought with the Red Army on the Russian front against the German invader.

"For over 12 hours the Germans bombed us with Stukas planes, while we were directing artillery fire at German positions," he said. "After my CO left, a Stuka bomb landed on my position, killing everyone except myself."

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Atsushi Hamato
Tokyo
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
13 Feb 2012

Atsushi Hamato fought in the Japanese Imperial army during WWII against American forces. Hamato fought in the battle of the Philippines as a company commander.

"We fought for honor and our country against the American invaders," he said.

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Hans von Vultejus
Ry
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
13 Feb 2012

Hans von Vultejus fought with the German army in Western Europe against the invading Anglo Saxon armies.

"I was given a Waffen SS uniform," he said. "However, I refused to get my blood type tattooed as was common practice in the SS. While waiting in line, I moved discretely to the already tattooed line so I was never tattooed."

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Israel Barsuk
Brooklyn, NY
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
06 Dec 2010

Israel Barkuk is a Ukrainian WWII veteran who fought in the Red Army against the German army.

"My division was located on a plateau in central Ukraine, which was under German attack," he said. "They were just right below us and around us. A sniper killed my commander, so I was promoted the commanding commissar of a full battalion of 300 men."

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Thomas Louis Gilzean
Edinburgh
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Thomas Louis Gilzean, a Scottish WWII veterans who fought both in Asia as part of a commando outfit and in Europe against the Germans.

"In Benghazi we lived inside a very nice hotel with my unit," he said. "We fought there until March 1941, when the Germans invaded with Rommel. We soon had to retreat but before we booby-trapped the hotel, and took the fireplace with us. It looked expensive."

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Ante Vukovich
Dubrovnik
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Ante Vukovich is a Croatian WWII veteran who fought against German forces occupying his country during the Second World War. Ante fought with Communist partisan units as an infantryman.

"During my first firefight I couldn't control my Czech machine gun and almost shot one of my fellow soldiers," he said.

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Bernard du Bois
Vilvoorde
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Bernard du Bois is a Belgium WWII veteran who fought with the Allies against German troops occupying his country.

"After being wounded by a Stuka attack, I was picked up by Germans who brought me to a German field hospital in Montreuille-sur-mer, where a German army doctor operated on me atop 12 hundred liter barrel of Champagne," he said. "He saved my life."

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Salomon Freidlyand
Brooklyn, NY
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Salomon Freidlyand is a Byelorussian WWII veteran who fought within the Red Army on the Russian front against the German invader.

"I was sent back to the 297th division to start training partisans and to gather information on the German positions," he said. "I had my own horse, and would often go behind German lines and meet these locals and partisans."

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Thomas Hermann
Sicklerville, NJ
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Thomas Hermann is a WWII veteran who fought in the German army on the Russian front as an infantryman.

"I took part of a counter-attack in late November 1943," he said. "The entire regiment was send forward. The fighting was hard with many close-quarter battles. Two Russian divisions were wiped out in the process. During the fighting, I remember that I could see the white of my enemies eyes."

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Herbert Drossler
Verson
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Herbert Drossler was a loader in a German Tiger tank during the battle of Normandy against American forces.

"Near Vires during a British offensive only 60 meters away, I noticed a dying French civilian between the lines," he said. "He was shouting, 'mother, mother help me' and was wounded in the stomach by shrapnel. I then saw his mother run towards him, so I decided to help her to stop the blood coming out of her son's wound."

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Bjorn Ostring
Oslo
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Bjorn Ostring is an ex Waffen SS Norwegian volunteer who fought as a platoon leader on the Russian front.

"We arrived to the front near the town of Urizk," he said. "As soon as we arrived at the front, we were thrown into the battle to contain Russian troops attacking the area."

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Fernand Kaisergruber
Brussels
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Fernand Kaisergruber is a Belgium WWII veteran who fought in the Waffen SS as an infantryman on the Russian front.

"One day in late 1941, I overheard that two Flemish men had joined the Waffen SS to go fight in Russia," he said. "I talked to my boss and told him that I wanted to do the same. I therefore had the choice between the Waffen SS or the SS Wallonie. I chose the SS Wallonie."

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Adolph Straka
Ljubljana
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Adolph Straka is a Slovenian who fought as a volunteer in the German army against the Russians in Europe, and with alongside the Red army.

"When the Russian took me as prisoner, I was identified as a Yugoslavian, so I got better treatment," he said. "I remained prisoner of war for only three days, and I then swore to Stalin, my name was changed to Rudy, as I bore the same first name as Adolph Hitler."

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Jean Mathieu
Languimberg
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
29 Mar 2010

Jean Mathieu is a French national who was forced into the German army to fight against the advancing Russians during WWII.

"With the coming of the Germans, I remained at the family home, he said," but because I was a peasant, the Germans left me alone until 1942, when I was sent to Northern Bavaria to a work camp."