Family stories
Yakiv Trusov
Interview recorded: by Valentyna Kasian obwód doniecki, Ukraina 01.12.2020

Yakiv Trusov

This story is about our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who took part in the most fierce battles of the German-Soviet war. The events of the 1940s affected him so much that the victory he won together with millions of other soldiers, did not become a matter of pride, but rather something that he preferred to forget. Our grandfather hardly ever mentioned any details, the details of those terrible times, but what he did tell has remained in the memory of his children, including my grandmother (his daughter), my mother, my uncle, and in my personal memories. Together we have conducted our family research and put together all the information provided by our great-grandfather. The text has been voiced-over by my mother as one of the bearers of our family history!

In memory of  Yakiv Trusov

Thick grass covers distant mounds
Sucking water from the soil where night after night
Every young man used to stand fast
And get ready for his final battle, dream of victory and of going back home.

Now, I’m gazing into the veterans’ eyes
Marked by pain, bitter losses, and tears.
In the background, there’s the war,
The grenades exploding, the soldiers groaning, and someone day-dreaming.

So I’m looking them in the eyes again, then I face away,
My heart is beating fast, it just makes me want to cry.
A brave guy, he’s got to be about 25,
He’ll lay down his life for his country though…

Here’s a grey-headed old man standing with a chestful of medals,
All war long rushing the Nazis to Berlin.
He’s lost his fellows in the war,
They’re sleeping the eternal sleep on a fragrant field.

Although it’s peacetime, there’s a scene I can vividly see in my head,
My grandfather driving his tank out of the fire into Berlin
And storming the Reichstag.
“Guys, I got here, and there are many of us!”

And that guy who’s got to be about 25
There’s no way of giving him a hug and a cry anymore…
He’s like my grandpa, he walked by his side,
He was a hero

I just wish the young hero had returned home.
My granddad used to recall him a lot so far,
It caused him pain, but my grandpa didn’t let it get the best of him.
He got used to being strong and remembered the cost of victory.

It hurts me to realize that he is no longer with us…

Yu. Zvierieva (granddaughter of Yakiv Trusov)

Our grandfather, Trusov Yakiv Vasylovych, was born on May 15, 1924, in the village of Yalkanka, Barvinkivsky district, Kharkiv region, into a family of workers and peasants. He was the eldest son in a family of four children. He used to help his father in the field, to date girls when he was a young man, to dream of a happy peaceful life and a family, like thousands of other young men. As a boy, he proved to be one of those courageous soldiers who stopped the bloody war started by Nazi Germany.
 
The war started when my grandfather was barely 17 years old. His father immediately went to the front line. He never returned from the war. And in January 1942, my grandfather was called up by the Barvinkivsky regional military commissariat and sent to the Voronezh Front with the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps, which took part in hostilities, destroying enemy’s infantry and tanks since December 1942. In July 1943, the 5th Corps took part in the battle near the Prokhorovka village and were deployed on the southern face of the Kursk salient. According to my grandfather, the task of the corps was to remain at the frontier, ensure the attack of infantry and tanks by all means of fire, while letting the enemy’s attacking divisions through their own positions. My grandfather said that the attack was led against three SS divisions, “The Dead Head”, “Reich”, and “Leibstandard SS Adolf Hitler”. It was a terrible slaughter. Thousands of young lives lost. Such a terrible price was paid to change the course of the war.
 
My grandfather said that the Voronezh Front was renamed the First Ukrainian Front in October 1943, and the Kyiv offensive began. The Czechoslovak infantry took part in this offensive operation. This event brought our grandfather together with a friend named Zdenek. It turned out to be a warm lifelong friendship. Meanwhile, in November 1943, there was a forced crossing of the Dnipro River. The events of those days are sure to stay in the memory of my grandfather, his fellow countrymen, and all those close to them forever.
 
Later, in July 1944, my grandfather took part in the Lviv-Sandomierz operation aimed at the liberation of Western Ukraine and the occupation of South-Eastern Poland. Therefore, our grandfather, Trusov Yakov Vasylovych, took part in the main combat operations against the enemy.
He got encircled and was badly wounded, and later, in the battles for Hennerwitz, for his bravery, courage, and valour, he received the Medal for Battle Merit. As soon as on the Second Belarusian Front, my grandfather with the 379th Guards Heavy Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment broke through deep into the enemy’s territory and met the Germans near the town of Beelitz, 40 kilometres away from Berlin.
 
My grandfather recalls the enemy’s attempts to break through, but they kept holding the enemy at bay. Active nonlinear defence and ambush position for certain tanks turned out to be in their best interest. He said that waiting in ambush and changing their firing positions often enough let their tank cause great damage to the enemy during the day. He helped the infantry to fend off four enemy attacks. My grandfather said that they gained a victory because they took time to choose an optimal ambush site, they buried the tank in the ground, and disguised themselves. He often mentioned a great skill and self-control, courage and bravery that the Guards tankers displayed.
 
In the offensive operations, for courage, in the battles for Belitz, my grandfather was awarded the Order of the Red Star.
 
My grandfather entered Berlin in his self-propelled artillery vehicle. He was one of those who went through the hell of fascist challenges, carried his comrades covered in blood off the battlefield; with his tears, sweat, and blood, he dedicated himself wholeheartedly to protect his native fertile land, his Yalkanka, his brothers and sisters from the fictional supremacy that led to the horrific violence.
 
The name of our grandfather, Trukov Yakov Vasylovych, was also written on the walls of the Reichstag. And may forever be remembered his bravery as well as the bravery of those killed in the foreign battlefields.
 
My grandfather returned from the war a hero. He worked as a construction worker to rebuild ruined cities and villages. He used to be an honoured man. He has found someone that he loved, his Kateryna, he has built a house, has planted gardens, has given birth to three children. He did everything he dreamed of. He prefered not telling about the details of fierce battles, bloody battles, but always remembered his comrades and his countrymen. He died surrounded by his family on February 19, 2008, taking the memories of those trying times with him. May his memory live forever, and may he stay in our hearts forever.
 
How terrible and painful is the fact that the events of that war are forgotten. In Ukraine, you can hear the volleys of guns all over again, people are dying again. But this is yet another story.

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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