Songs of Resistance - The Soviet people's resistance to Fascist aggression

Narodin May 3, 2012

Red Army photographer Yevgeni Khaldei's historic photograph of the Soviet flag being raised over the Reichstag atop the crown of the <i />Germania. The flag is being raised by Alyosha Kovalyov, in a re-enactment of the event of April 30th 1945 Red Army photographer Yevgeni Khaldei's historic photograph of the Soviet flag being raised over the Reichstag atop the crown of the Germania. The flag is being raised by Alyosha Kovalyov, in a re-enactment of the event of April 30th 1945.Source:[Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/)

The German-Soviet battles during the Second World War is collectively referred to as Velíkaya Otéchestvennaya voiná (The Great Patriotic War) in countries that constituted the former Soviet Union. The Soviet losses during the period have been estimated at nearly 26 million human lives. The Soviet resistance was the brave effort of a group of people who refused to be enslaved by the monstrosity of fascism. It is also an effort that has largely gone unappreciated outside Eastern Europe. If it was not for the Red Army, perhaps the history of the world would have been very different indeed. On the 30th of April, 1945, at 22:40 local time, Mikhail Minin of the Soviet Red Army raised the red banner of the USSR on the roof of the German Reichstag in Berlin. He fixed it atop the crown of the statue of Germania, the goddess who had symbolised Germany.

Later,on the 2nd of May 1945, the event would be staged for photographs. That image has since gone onto become symbolic- for it aptly captures the victory of the working class over the Nazi monster. The Great Patriotic War had ended. The Soviet people had won, but at a terrible price. The material damages inflicted by the war would seriously cripple the building of socialism in the USSR. The monstrosities of that war would convince the Soviet leadership that any price was reasonable inorder to avert a repetition of these events on Soviet territory.

Bodhi pays respects to the heroes of the Soviet resistance through the songs that symbolised it.

The Worker and the Peasant

Soviet wartime poster declaring '<i />Everything for the front, Everything for victory' Soviet wartime poster declaring 'Everything for the front, Everything for victory'

To fight the Nazi juggernaut, the Soviet Union mobilised one of the largest armies in history. The Workers and Peasants Red Army, better known by its Russian acronym RKKA, comprised of ordinary Soviet citizens. Women and men joined the Red Army to defend their motherland against the fascist aggression. The strength of the Red Army varied with time throughout the Second World War. Although armed with unsophisticated weapons such as the Mosin-Nafant rifle, they marched for the defense of their freedom and eventually vanquished Hitler's Third Reich. Many of the soldiers were young citizens, full of life, full of hope. And hope was something very precious in those troubling times. Katyusha is a Soviet era folk song that captures this hope in all its essence. The song was written by Mikhail Isakovsky and tuned by Matvei Blanter, right before the outbreak of the Second World War. The song attained an almost cult status during the war and became a regular performance item of the Alexandrov Ensemble for soldiers on the warfront. The song talks about a young girl, Katyusha, who sings for her beloved from a cliff so that he may hear her on the battlefront and remember her and her love. The song was so popular among Soviet soldiers, that it lent its name to the famous Katyusha rocket launchers.

Rastsvetali yabloni i grushi, Paplyli tumany nad rekoy. Vykhodila na bereg Katyusha, Na vysokii bereg na krutoy. Vykhodila, pesnyu zavodila Pro stepnogho, sizagho arla, Pro togho, katorogho lyubila, Pro togho, ch'i pis'ma beregla. Oy ty, pyesnya, pyesenka devich'ya, Ty leti za yasnym solntsem vsled. I boytsu na dal'nem pogranich'e Ot Katyushi peredai privyet. Pust' on vspomnit devushku prostuyu, Pust' uslyshit, kak ona payot, Pust' on zemlu berezhyot rodnuyu, A lyubov' Katyusha sberezhyot.
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 the ordinary girl, And hear how she sings, Let him preserve the native land, Just as Katyusha preserves their love.

The citizens of Leningrad

Soviet wartime daily ration and ration coupon for Leningrad, on display in the St.Petersburg Museum. Soviet wartime daily ration and ration coupon for Leningrad, on display in the St.Petersburg Museum.Source:[RIA Novosti](http://en.rian.ru/)

The city of Leningrad, which was the symbolic capital of the Great October Socialist Revolution, refused to surrender to the Nazi aggressors and put up a heroic resistance. The Blockade of Leningrad was the brainchild of Hitler 'to dispose of their[Soviet] population which otherwise we shall have to feed during the winter'. The city of Leningrad was encircled by the German Third Reich and its Nazi allies. The civilian population of the city organised response groups. Cut off from the rest of the world, short of supplies, the city was constantly bombed and shelled; yet it refused to give up. Food rations soon dropped to 125 grams of bread per person per day. Supplies were brought when Lake Ladoga froze during the winter. Yet many of the city dwellers stayed on, the students continued their studies, government offices and institutions continued to function, life continued with a semblance of normalcy. Living a normal life in Leningrad was in itself a defiance of the Nazi monstrosity. More than 600,000 people perished during the period in the city. Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No.7 'Leningrad' was dedicated to the people of the city of Leningrad who bravely resisted the inhuman blockade for 872 days .Today it is seen as homage to all the victims of those troubling times.

The Soviet sniper

Soviet era photograph of a detachment of female snipers being inspected by the head of the sniper training school. Soviet era photograph of a detachment of female snipers being inspected by the head of the sniper training school.Source:[RIA Novosti](http://en.rian.ru/)

No mention about the Soviet actions in World War two will be complete without mentioning Stalingrad. Stalingrad was not just any Soviet city, it was Stalin's city; second in symbolic importance only to Moscow. Moreover, Stalingrad was strategically placed; it was the gateway to the oil rich Caucasus. And this fact was not lost, either on the Nazi aggressors or on the Soviet defenders. The Soviet Army resorted to close range combat against the Nazis. Every street, every corner, every inch of the city was fought for. And it is in these testing times that the snipers of the Red Army excelled. Lives were lost and heroes were born in Stalingrad. Lasting nearly 7 months, the battle for Stalingrad was perhaps the bloodiest battle in recorded history, with over two million causalities. But Stalingrad did not fall. It stood, proudly resisting the fascists. Men and women came from various parts of the USSR to defend the city. Many never went back, and were buried in Stalingrad.Tyemnaya Noch (The Dark Night) was written by N. Bogosolvsky and set to music by V. Agatov. The song echoes the emotions of a Soviet soldier fighting the Nazis in the steppes at night. The setting and the lyrics make it a fitting tribute to the snipers of the Red Army.

Temnaya noch, tolko puli svistyat po styepi, Tolko vyetyer gudit v provodakh, tusklo zvyezdy myertsayut. V tyemnuyu noch ty, lyubimaya, znayu, nye spish, I u dyetskoy krovatki taykom ty slyezu utirayesh. Kak ya lyublyu glubinu tvoikh laskovykh glaz, Kak ya khochu k nim prizhatsya syeychas gubami! Tyemnaya noch razdyelyayet, lyubimaya, nas, I tryevozhnaya, chyernaya styep prolyegla myezhdu nami. Vyeryu v tyebya, V doroguyu podrugu moyu, Eta vyera ot puli myenya Tyemnoy nochyu khranila... Radostno mnye, Ya spokoyen v smyertyelnom boyu Znayu, vstryetish s lyubovyu myenya, Chtob so mnoy ni sluchilos. Smyert nye strashna, S nyey nye raz my vstryechalis v styepi. Vot i syeychas Nado mnoyu ona kruzhitsya. Ty myenya zhdyesh I u dyetskoy krovatki nye spish, I poetomu, znayu, so mnoy Nichyego nye sluchitsya!
Dark night, only bullets whistling over the steppe, Only the wind was humming in the woods, as the dim stars twinkle. In this dark night, darling, I know, that you are not asleep, And in the cradle, you secretly wipe away a tear. How I love the depth of your gentle eyes, How I want to press my lips against you! But the Dark Night divides us, my love, And a disturbing, black steppe lies between us. I believe in you For you are my sweetheart, That belief is my bullet Let the night be dark ... I am happy my love I am confident in this combat For I know I will meet my love To me nothing else matters. Death is not terrible. We are meant to unite, eventually, in the steppe. Here and now Death whirls upon me And keeps me waiting . And the cradle is awake, And so, I know, to me Nothing will happen!
Soviet poster glorifying the partisan who performed sabotage operations in regions occupied by the Fascists. The text reads '<i />Glory to the Partisan Hero, destroying the enemies rear.' Soviet poster glorifying the partisan who performed sabotage operations in regions occupied by the Fascists. The text reads 'Glory to the Partisan Hero, destroying the enemies rear.'

The Partisan and the Political officer

In order to disrupt the Nazi war machinery from the rear, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) aided the formation of partisan units in German occupied territories. The partisans were civilians with limited or no military experience who harassed the Nazis with guerilla operations in territories occupied by them. Communication lines and railroad transport were the primary targets. Specially chosen party activists, Red Army personnel and sportsmen were sent to motivate and assist the local population in acts of sabotage against the occupiers. Often the partisans also carried out assassinations of Nazi administrators and their local collaborators. The Nazis never considered the partisans to be regular soldiers and as a result they were victims of inhuman torture by the occupying force. Some partisans like Dmitry Medvedev (not to be confused with the Russian politician) went on to become Heroes of the Soviet Union.

Soviet political officer (probably A. G. Yeremenko, Company political officer of the 220th Rifle Regiment, 4th Rifle Division, killed in action in 1942) leading his soldiers to the assault in Soviet Ukraine Soviet political officer (probably A. G. Yeremenko, Company political officer of the 220th Rifle Regiment, 4th Rifle Division, killed in action in 1942) leading his soldiers to the assault in Soviet Ukraine.Source:[RIA Novosti](http://en.rian.ru/)

There was another group of individuals whom Hitler ordered to be killed at sight so as to never grant them the privileges of POWs. This was the Red Army’s Political Officers. Hitler’s notorious ‘Commisar Directive’ of June 6th 1941 read: In the struggle against Bolshevism, we must not assume that the enemy's conduct will be based on principles of humanity or of international law. In particular, hate-inspired, cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners can be expected on the part of all grades of political commissars, who are the real leaders of resistance...To show consideration to these elements during this struggle, or to act in accordance with international rules of war, is wrong and endangers both our own security and the rapid pacification of conquered territory...Political commissars have initiated barbaric, Asiatic methods of warfare. Consequently, they will be dealt with immediately and with maximum severity. As a matter of principle, they will be shot at once, whether captured during operations or otherwise showing resistance.

Charged with the upkeep of troop morale and cohesion, the political officer was crucial to the Red Army’s onward march.The legendary photograph of the political officer of the 220th rifle regiment leading the troops into battle in the Ukraine leaves no doubt as to why the Nazis feared the political officer so much. Smuglyanka (The Dark girl) is a partisan song about love during the time of war. The song was written by Y. Shvedov and the music is the work of A. Novikov.

Kak-to letom, na rassvete, zaglianul v sosednii sad. Tam smuglianka-moldavanka sobiraet vinograd. Ia krasneiu, ia bledneiu, zakhotelos' vdrug skazat': "Stanem nad rekoiu zor'ki letnie vstrechat'!" Pripev: Raskudriavyi, klion zelionyi, list reznoi, Ia vliublennyi i smushchionnyi pred toboi. Klion zelionyi, da klion kudriavyi, Da raskudriavyi, reznoi! A smuglianka-moldavanka otvechala parniu v lad: "Partizanskii moldavanskii sobiraem my otriad. Nynche rano partizany dom pokinuli rodnoi. Zhdiot tebia doroga k partizanam v les gustoi!" Pripev. I smuglianka-moldavanka po tropinke v les ushla. V tom obidu ia uvidel, chto s soboi ne pozvala. O smuglianke-moldavanke chasto dumal po nocham. Vdrug svoiu smuglianku ia v otriade povstrechal! Pripev.
Once during the summer dawn, I saw in the neighboring garden A dark girl, a Moldavian girl, near the vineyard. I was blushing, I turned white and I wanted to say "Let's meet on the banks of the river during the summer dawn!" Refrain: The bushy green maple, with its carved leafs, I am in love and I am embarrassed before you. The maple is green, the maple is bushy, Very bushy, very carved! And that dark girl, the Moldavian girl, looked up said to me: "We are gathering our Moldavian partisans into a detachment. Now partisans have left their beloved homeland early. The way to the partisans, through the thick forest awaits me!" Refrain. And the dark girl, a Moldavian girl, went into the forest along a small path And I decided that it is a pity that she didn't call me with her. O dark girl, O Moldavian girl, I dream of you during the nights. And then one day, I finally met her in a partisan detachment! Refrain.

The Red Army Tankist

The T-34 is one of the few tanks to have memorials in its honour. The image shows the tank memorial in the city of Svestapol, in honour of the 85th Guard Tank Regiment. The tank chassis clearly shows three different wheel designs. The versatility of the T-34 was a crucial element in the Soviet Union's final victory. The T-34 is one of the few tanks to have memorials in its honour. The image shows the tank memorial in the city of Svestapol, in honour of the 85th Guard Tank Regiment. The tank chassis clearly shows three different wheel designs. The versatility of the T-34 was a crucial element in the Soviet Union's final victory.Source:[Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/)

The Second World War also witnessed some of the most massive tank battles of all time. The brutality of tank warfare was on full display at Kharkov, Kiev and Kursk It was in the vast expanses of the Ukrainian steppes that the Third Reich collided headon with the Red Army. On one side were the technically advanced Panzers of the Nazi Wehrmacht. The machine was sophisticated, accurate and commanded by officers who were students of tank warfare veterans like Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian. Soviet tanks on the other hand followed a fundamental principle of Soviet weapons design- to keep weapons simple, crude but extremely effective. The Soviet T-34 tank was a textbook case in Soviet tank design. It followed a simple design suited for mass production. It was simple enough to be operated by the soldiers who had little time for effective training and had never seen a machine more complicated than the tractor. It was built for performance, not comfort or ease of use. Nevertheless, the Red Army tannkists fought bravely against their superior enemy. What the Red Army lacked in quality, they made up in quantity. The Red Army tankist was a hero in the fight against fascism. And so was the T-34. The song Na pole tanki grohotali (The tanks were thundering to the battlefield) is a tribute to the women, men and the machine that stopped the advance of the Nazi Panzer divisions in their tracks.

Na pole tanki grohotali Soldaty shli v posledniy boy A molodoho komandira Nesli s probitoiy golovoy Pod tank udarila bolvanka, Proshchai, gvardyeski ekipazh! Shetyre trupa vozle tanka Dopolnyat utrenny pyezazh... Mashina plamenem obyata, Syeichas rvanet boekomplekt, A zhit tak hoshet sya, rebyata, No vybirat sya sil uzh net... Nas izvlekut iz pod oblomna, Podnimut na ruki karkas, I zalpy bashe nyh orudiy V posledniy puth provodyat nas. I poletyat tut telegrammy Rodnyh, znakomyh izvestit, Shto syn ih bolʹshe ne vernyotsa, I ne priedet pogostit. V uglu zaplachet mat-starushka, Slezu rukoy smahnet otets, I dorogaya ne uznaet, Kakoi tankista byl konets. I budet kartochka pylitsya Na polke pozheltevshih knig V tankistskoy forme,pri pogonah I yei on bolshe ne zhenih.
The tanks were thundering to the battlefield The soldiers marched for the final battle The young commander was carried away with a broken head His tank was hit by an armor piercer The guards are already gone Four bodies near the tank Complement the morning landscape. Soon the fire will reach the guns The ammunition will explode I long to live, But I do not have the strength to climb out. They will extract my remains from the rubble They will raise my coffin Fire & thunder from the main guns Will see me into my last journey. For now the telegrams are flying To tell the friends and relatives That their good son is never coming Nor getting any leave The mother and the grandmother will cry in the corner, And father will brush off a tear, And the beloved girl will never get to know, What the last minutes of her tankman were. And thephoto on the bookshelf Will collect dust with the yellowed books In the tankist’s uniform, with shoulder-boards on... But he will never be her man.

The Soviet Woman

The Soviet resistance was in all aspects a people’s resistance. The heroic role that the Soviet women played in this resistance is a testament to this fact. There were no men, no women; just human beings whose way of life had been threatened by an inhuman enemy. As more and more men left to fight at the front, the women performed their civilian duties. However, the Soviet woman was not one who could be content with driving the tractor or machining gun barrels for the war. Numerous women served at the battlefront with unsurpassed gallantry and performed the ultimate sacrifice.

Mariya Oktyabrskaya in her tankMariya Oktyabrskaya in her tank.

This included Maria Oktyabrskaya who on learning of her husband’s death at the hands of Nazis, sold her possession to donate a tank to the Red Army. The donation came with a condition: that she be allowed to drive the tank, to avenge her beloved. Maria wrote a letter to none less than Joseph Stalin, expressing her desire and her condition. Stalin wrote back to Maria in the positive, and she graduated from the Omsk tank school. She excelled as a tank driver, silencing her harshest critics. Maria Oktyabrskaya was killed in action, during the course of the war. Marina Raskova and her all-woman 588th Night Bomber Regiment specialized in nighttime precision bombing of Nazi command and control structures. The regiment flew wood and canvas Polikarpov-2 biplanes originally designed for crop dusting. The aircraft was obsolete but very maneuverable. Even the best Nazi aces had a hard time shooting down such a slow flying aircraft. Perhaps the greatest tribute paid to her group was the nickname that the aces of the Nazi Luftwaffe gave them – Der Nachthexen (The Night Witches).

Red Army soldiers on the march.The legendary Red Army that checked the Fascist aggression was infact made up of ordinary women and men,unwilling to surrender their lives Red Army soldiers on the march.The legendary Red Army that checked the Fascist aggression was infact made up of ordinary women and men,unwilling to surrender their lives.Source:[RIA Novosti](http://en.rian.ru/)

When the Nazis invaded the USSR, Lyudmila Pavlechenko was 24 and a master’s student of history. She rejected a chance to be a nurse and instead enlisted as one of the nearly 2,000 woman snipers who served in the Soviet Army. Her 309 confirmed kills makes her the most successful female snipers ever.

Proshchanye Slavyanki (Farewell to Slavianka), was originally written before the October Revolution to honour the Slavic woman, bidding farewell to her husband. Later the words were modified while the popular music was maintained. This is a tribute to the Soviet woman, who excelled in her social and military duties and kept the red banner of the people flying high above the reaches of the Nazi monster.

Etot marsh nye smolkal na perronakh Kogda vrag zaslonyal gorizont. S nim otsov nashikh v dymnykh vagonakh poezda uvozili na front. On Moskvu otstoyal vsorok pervom vsorok pyatom shagal na Berlin On s soldaton proshol do pobedy po dorogam nelegkim godni. I yesliv pokhod strana pozoviot za kray nash rodnoy My vse poydom svyaschenny boy Shumyat v polyakh khleba Shagaet otchizna moya K vysotam schast'ya skvoz' vse nenast'ya, dorogoy mira i truda I yesliv pokhod strana pozoviot za kray nash rodnoy My vse poydom svyaschenny boy
This is an inspiring march that recalls The day when the aggressor came to our border. When our fathers left their homes in the train And set off, with this song, to the front. They sang it while defending Moscow in ‘41 They sang while taking Berlin in ‘45 They were the soldiers who won, Even after decades of difficulties and hardship If one day The country demands it, For our motherland, We will rise up and commit into this holy war The wheat fields are rolling Our Motherland is taking a big step forward Overcoming the hardship, Enduring the bad weather Defending the peace and labour. If one day The country demands it, For our motherland We will rise up and commit into this holy war.
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