Two Fighters From Königsberg

The fascists turned Kaliningrad [German name: Königsberg – ed] into a powerful fortification, where every house became a fort. The German command took all possible measures to prepare the fortress city for a long resistance under siege. The town had numerous military arsenals and warehouses. The defence system included an external defensive ring and three internal rings. In the center of the city there was a citadel.

The city was defended by 130,000 people, hundreds of tanks and aircraft.

On the eve of the assault, the Gauleiter of Königsberg Wagner addressed German soldiers on the radio: “The Russians, relying on the weak land fortifications of Sevastopol, defended the city for 250 days. The Führer’s soldiers must hold out for the same amount of time on the powerful fortifications of Königsberg!”

Member of the Military Council 43 of the Army Sergey Ivanovich Shabalov, in a conversation with the guards of the 33rd Division, found an “adequate” response to this radio message: “We defended Sevastopol for 250 days, and liberated it in four….”

The assault began on April 6th, 1945. On April 10th, 1945, a red flag was hoisted on the Don Tower of the defeated Nazi Königsberg. More than 70,000 enemy soldiers were captured, about 42,000 were killed, and more than 2,000 guns, 1,652 mortars, and 128 aircraft were captured

The unapproachable, according to Hitler, fortress – a symbol of Prussian military spirit and valour – was taken by Soviet troops in four days…

I will talk about two ordinary participants of this skilfully organised and effectively carried out operation of the Red Army, people close and dear to me.

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Senior Guard Sergeant Nikolay Egorovich Milshin

He started the war as a part of the 28th rifle regiment of the 75th rifle division as a signalman. He was summoned by the Iskitim District Military Commissariat of the Novosibirsk region. He was in the army from the first days of the war.

On 05.03.1943 he was awarded the first medal “For bravery”

On 17.07.1943, during the breakthrough of enemy defences on the west bank of the Mius River near Dmitrievka in Donbass, under the targeted fire of the enemy, he provided communication between the command post and the observation post of the regiment. He repaired 19 communication failures himself and killed two Germans. For this fight he was awarded the first Order of the Red Star. On the evening of the same day, both legs were seriously injured. He miraculously avoided amputation due to the beginning of gangrene, he was saved by doctors and girl nurses who did not sleep at night, but provided treatment with hot wax.

On 29.07.1943 he was awarded the order of the Patriotic War of the 2nd degree.

As part of 120th Guards Separate Communications Battalion, the 87th Guards Division participated in the heaviest battles to take Königsberg, and suffered severe head and arm injuries.

On 21.02.1945 he was awarded the second Order of the Red Star. He was awarded the Medal “For the Capture of Königsberg.

On 24.07.1945 he was awarded a second “For Bravery” medal.

He was demobilised on March 14th 1949 and awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st degree.

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Junior Lieutenant of Anatoly Ivanovich Pozharov

In September 1941, Anatoly Ivanovich volunteered for the front line. He was called up in Krasnogvardeysk (Gatchina) of the Leningrad region. He fought near Leningrad having been wounded, and on October 8th he was captured during the fighting in Krasnoye Selo. He endured the horrors of fascist concentration camps, and in December 1944 was liberated by the advancing Red Army units. As part of the 131st rifle regiment, the 73rd division participated in the Battle of Königsberg. He was wounded, atoned for his “guilt” with blood, and after recovery entered the regular rifle unit. He was awarded the Medal”For the Capture of Königsberg”. He ended the war in Germany.

Some miserly lines about family: my uncle Nikolay Egorovich Milshin and my father-in-law Anatoly Ivanovich Pozharov…

Behind these lines lie many years of hard soldiering military labor day after day, year after year, the blood of murdered comrades, the scorched earth of their native country, the destroyed cities and villages.

It’s been many years since these wonderful humble people – frontline soldiers – departed. Holding the medal “For the capture of Königsberg”, in front of your eyes there are impregnable brick forts of the defeated Teutonic pride. And in the ears the muffled, painfully familiar, voice of Mark Bernes can be heard:

Sometimes I feel like the soldiers,
Who never returned from the bloodied fields,
Aren’t perished in our earth,
But turned into white cranes

Since those long gone times until today
They fly and give us signs, so we can hear them.
Isn’t this why so frequently and sorrowfully
We fall silent, watching the sky?

P.S. It would seem, here I tell ordinary stories about members of my family, about my familiar people of the older generation who passed through the Great Patriotic War… However, life is so bizarre that only now with the help of the Internet and open archives of the Ministry of Defence we were able to quickly search for information about our grandparents, fathers, uncles, information which was available for many years up to the early 2000s only for historians, archival workers and employees of MoD institutions. We learn a lot of new facts about our relatives and familiar people, who we sometimes didn’t even know about…

Spend a few hours of your time looking at the website pamyat-naroda.ru to find information about your relatives – participants of the Great Patriotic War, the Finnish War, the war with imperialist Japan. Knowing only the name and the year of birth of a relative or a familiar participant of the war, you can learn a lot of new, useful, and very important not only for yourself, but also for your children and grandchildren, for the Memory of your Family!

You can find out the time and place of burial of our dead Heroes. To honor their award sheets describing their feats, to find out in what settlements they are buried, missing, were captured, released. Trace the fighting paths of the military units in which your relatives fought. Take a look at the sorrowful lists of combat losses on which sorrowful burials were drawn up and sent to relatives…

And in my ears there is a familiar voice: “What to tell you, Kolya – I fought like everyone else did…”


Khodanov

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