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Something for the weekend.  Katyusha, one of the more beautiful songs from the late and unlamented Soviet Union.  Here is a rendition by the Red Army choir:


The song is one of longing by a young woman who is waiting for her intended away with the Red Army.  Written in 1938, it was not performed until 1941 when young ladies from a Moscow industrial school serenaded Soviet troops on their way to the front with it.   Needless to say, the song was massively popular with soldiers in the Red Army ever after.

Pears and apples blossomed on their branches.
Mist (was) creeping on the river.
Katyusha set out on the banks,
On the steep and lofty bank.

She was walking, singing a song
About a grey steppe eagle,
About her true love,
Whose letters she was keeping.

Oh you song! Little song of a maiden,
Head for the bright sun.
And reach for the soldier on the far-away border
Along with greetings from Katyusha.

Let him remember an ordinary girl,
And hear how she sings,
Let him preserve the Motherland,
Same as Katyusha preserves their love.

The Soviet mass rocket launchers during the war were nicknamed Katyushas, after the song, by Red Army troops due to the fact that they were constructed at the Voronezh Komintern Factory and were marked with a K.  I am sure the Germans would have much preferred the song.


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  1. No doubt Stalin is playing tag with Hitler in Hell in one of the less fashionable pits T.Shaw. However, you can’t blame the average Red Army soldier in World War II for Stalin. He had as little to say about things as the average German soldier during that conflict did, and he was fighting against an invading force. Additionally, millions of Red Army troops were sent to the Gulag by Stalin for such “crimes” as surrendering after being surrounded and cut off. Solzhenitisyn, undoubtably one of the more uncompromising foes of the Communists, was arrested while serving in the Red Army as an artillery officer and tossed into the Gulag. He wrote frequently of his admiration for the troops he served with, and viewed them also as victims of the evil system that ruled their nation.

  2. Additionally, millions of Red Army troops were sent to the Gulag by Stalin for such “crimes” as surrendering after being surrounded and cut off.

    You would know if this as actually correct, Don: I seem to recall reading that more Russian soldiers were shot by their own government during WW2 than the total number of US soldiers killed by the enemy in both theaters.

  3. That is probably true Darwin. Some 291,000 Americans died from combat in World War II. About 158,000 Red Army troops were sentenced to death, but that does not include vast numbers of informal excutions on the battlefield that were never recorded. Additionally, about 422,700 Red Army troops served in penal battalions where they were literally used as cannon fodder. Special “trampler” battalions were included among them where the men would be sent through mine fields unarmed to clear a path by the simple process of setting off the mines as they marched through. Life was very cheap in the Red Army.

    In comparison, one US soldier was shot for desertion during World War II.


  4. I knew and visited the homes of former wehrmacht troops when I was stationed with NATO/USAFE at Ramstein AB in the early 1970’s.

    They were like you and me. Then, they were civ employees in our squadron. Had started out as POW’s. Theyw ere lucky they were US POW’s.

    One was a former para who had fought in Crete. He was hit and captured around D-Day in Normandy. He said a French farmer had saved his life (from bleeding to death). He was, 30+ years later, surprised by that. Another was a tanker. One civ had been a Dutch soldier who was a POW of the Germans until the US liberated him. Ironically, he was getting German retirement credit for the years he was in the Dutch Army – counting POW time.

    One civ was a Hitler youth too young to have fought. His father had been a big fighter ace KIA. He saw wrecked B-17’s as a kid. He was a nice guy, an athlete, glider pilot, but a loud mouth and somewhat immature. He would say he didn’t understand how the Americans beat them. The older men just shook their heads.

    At the time, the FRG (West Germany) Luftwaffe was crashing F-105’s all over the place . . .

    I liked the Germans better that the Saxons and the French . . .

    Ein bier bitte!

  5. My brother commanded a tank platoon in Nato in the early eighties. One night he went to a pub and found that German panzer troops from World War II were having a reunion. When they found out that he was a tanker they treated him like a long lost brother. They all claimed to have fought on the Eastern front except for one old guy who pointed to his stiff leg and said “Normandy!”.

  6. Okay, I’m going to get completely unserious here: I’m now being driven bonkers by the sudden realization that Dschingis Khan must have ripped the tune off for their disco bonbon Moskau.

    Thanks, Don.

  7. And you thought the Age of Disco was bad on this side of the pond! In my nightmares, the King of Siam will be dancing out of step with Bee Gee and Debra Harry impersonators.

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