Family stories
Volodymyr Zalevskyi
Interview recorded: by Novoselivka, Odeska oblast, Ukraine 16.10.2015


Volodymyr Zalevskyi

My grandfather was born in Odesa oblast (region) on July 3, 1971. In 1986 he graduated from school. In 1991 he graduated from the university in Moldova and became an agriculture specialist. From 1991 till now he works as an agriculturist in Novoselivka. He has two sons – Serhii and Vladyslav.

Where did your grandfather live?

We live in the historical region, which is called Bessarabia. People, who lived there, were sent to war only in 1944. In 1933 my grandfather did military service in the Romanian army. He was in the infantry division, where he acquired a profession of rifleman. He got an automatic rifle and went to war.

Had he ever been wounded during his military service?

He was wounded during one of the war battles in Poland. From November 1944 to February 1945 he stayed in a military hospital. His wound in the right thigh has been quite earnest, but the story behind it is still very interesting.

He got an order to occupy the hill, where they were supposed to install a machine gun. The soldiers had to pull that machine gun along the ground for about 800 meters.

They crept on the surface of the land. It was in the late autumn, there was slush on the ground and it was difficult to carry this order out. But orders should not have been discussed and the soldiers had to carry this one out. My grandfather took the machine gun, his fellow soldier took the bullets and they started to creep along the field. While creeping, they could hear a lot of shots overhead. After passing a halfway point, grandfather’s fellow was killed.

Grandfather did not stop creeping. He got wounded, but kept on creeping. He set the machine gun on the hill in the area, which they started to protect later on.

According to my grandfather’s stories, when he got out of the field, his padded jacket had a lot of holes from the bullets. He could survive only with the help of the ditch, which he found after the plough land.

Was he able to continue the military service?

After his stay in the hospital he worked as a cooker assistant. The wound could not allow him to go back to war. A woman approached him while he was working in the kitchen. She begged for some food. My grandfather could not give her any food in front of the others. He just said that he would bring her some to her home.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the village, as I was a little boy when I heard about it. He brought her some goods. As a sign of gratitude, this woman gave him a wooden box, which he took home with him.

The box contained clothes, which he could wear, but also a big cross. She gave him the cross with the hope, that it will protect him till the end of the war. He came back home with all this property.

Where did your grandfather serve after the military hospital?

This relic has remained in our family till nowadays. After recovery from the injury he served at the military airport. When other soldiers were demobilized in 1945, he could not come back straight away, as he was a stonemason. He built houses in the northern Ukraine. He came back home at the end of the summer. His wound kept on disturbing him till the end of his life.

Unfortunately, there are no veterans in our village. Our family decided to give all things related to the war period to the museum. These are the medals, the wooden box and other things valuable for us. They will remind many of us about the Great Patriotic War. The liberation war of the Soviet Union against Nazi regime and its allies (1941–45) is all about people who came back crippled or fell dead on the battlefield.

The interviews are given in the original language or a transliteration of it with preservation of national, regional and individual speech peculiarities.

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