Evgeny Alexeevich Gerzhov
by Yulya from Smorgon
Belarusians are proud of their courageous people. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II) almost all people were heroes, and those who didn’t take part in the struggle at the battle front lived through the hard times of the fascist occupation. We were lucky to meet a man who has lived a long and interesting life. His name is Evgeny Alexeevich Gerzhov. He was born in the town of Voznesensk not far from Odessa (now Ukraine) in 1921. His parents worked at the railway station. When Evgeny was a schoolboy he studied at a German school. Here it should be mentioned that at that place there lived Germans who came to live in Russia in the 18th century. They were allowed to live in that territory by the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great. They wanted to live in that region because there was a lot of free land.
Evgeny was an excellent pupil. His German teachers praised him for his industriousness and brilliant knowledge of the subjects. After leaving school he entered a military school. In 1941, when the war broke out in the territory of the Soviet Union, he was still a student. But all of his schoolmates and he were sent to Podolsk Artillery Military School as teachers. Their task was to teach soldiers to prepare the guns for shooting.
Then, a few months later they were sent to the battle line. Evgeny Alexeevich took part in defending Moscow and Leningrad. He remembers those hard times. He says it was very difficult during the war. The Soviet soldiers had no warm clothes at first. It’s sometimes unbearably cold in late autumn and in winter in Russia. At the beginning of the war they sometimes had nothing to eat. He saw a lot of dead young men. There were moments when there was no opportunity to bury the dead and they lay for a long time near the living. It was awful!
Evgeny Alexeevich participated in the liberation of many Soviet cities, towns and villages. The native people were happy to see Soviet soldiers. They suffered greatly during the fascist invasion. Fascists were very cruel. They not only fought against Soviet soldiers, but they also killed, hanged, and burned alive small children, women and elderly people. Every fourth citizen of my native Belarus was killed during the war.
After gaining a victory over the enemy in the territory of the Soviet Union, the Red Army defeated the fascists in Poland and made for Berlin. Evgeny Alexeevich was wounded. It’s an interesting fact that he was saved by a German family. He was very grateful to them. They saved his life. His comrades thanked the German family very much, too.
Evgeny Alexeevich was awarded many medals and orders for his courageous actions. For some years after the war Evgeny Alexeevich worked as an interpreter. He interpreted the interrogations of the captive colonels of the German army. In 1946 he took part in the negotiations of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Communist Party of Germany when they were going to unite.
Later Evgeny Alexeevich studied English at University. After graduating from university he worked as a teacher of foreign languages. Evgeny Alexeevich had a wife, but she died many years ago. One of his two daughters also died some years ago. Now he lives together with his other daughter.
Evgeny Alexeevich lives an active life. He is often invited to schools and other organizations where he tells about those cruel times. He helps the young to remember about the horrible war. And we understand that living in peace with other countries is absolutely necessary. War is a crime and grief for people. Such people as Evgeny Alexeevich help us to realize that.
All the photos in our story above are kindly given to us by Evgeny Alexeevich Gerzhov from his personal archives
Page created on 2/16/2009 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 1/6/2017 10:06:54 PM
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