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Soviet diaries from the Winter War

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  • Soviet diaries from the Winter War

    "This diary was found at Loimala during the Finnish-Russian war of 1939-40. It was kept by Politruk Oreshin, who belonged to the 37th Infantry Regiment and later to a detached Ski battalion." - Politruk Oreshinin päiväkirja.

    [...]

    "28/9 (1939). We heard today that we are to cross the Estonian frontier on 30/9. We shall probably start printing leaflets. [...] Only a few of us know about crossing the frontier: those who don't know about it can't understand all the preparations before our departure. The troops have been marching towards the frontier all day. Is Estonia worth all this? Will there be room for all of us? The frontier will then be East of us and be a thing of the past.

    [...]

    26/10. They say that war is coming - let it come - I'm fed up with this slacking about. The Finns strut around, rattle their weapons and say threateningly, "the life of one Finn will cost ten Russians". Stupid fools - what do they really think?

    27/10. T.A.S.S. reported provocation from the Finnish frontier yesterday. Seven shots were fired from the other side, and three Red Army men and one officer were killed, and seven Red Army men and two officers wounded. Molotov has sent a note and urged the Finnish Goverment to move the frontier 25 kms. back, in order to avoid such incidents in the future. I don't know how the matter will develope. I think that they, the swine, will refuse to.

    [...]

    (No date). We are a kilometre from the Russian frontier. We crossed it on December 3rd. Our artillery opened fire aty 8 a.m. on Nov. 30th. I was six kms. from the firing line. On the horizon we could see blood red flames. Hear noisy shouting interrupted with cheers.

    Near the frontier barricade we found empty vodka bottles and a placard on which was drawn a bear, probably representing the Red Army. The Finns are retreating, burning everything. [...]

    The butchers take full advantage of their great skill in skiing. They secretly approach our marching columns and with theri knifes stab to death all those leaving the road. That is how Lieutenant comrade Samushkin met his end. He only had time to scream "help". When we arrived at the place the butchers had already slunk off.

    [...]

    9/12 (1940). [...] For four days now we have tried in vain to take Loimola station. The men have lain in the snow for three days and didn't dare to lift their heads. Several of them are frostbitten. We are compelled to sleep with our clothes on, and can't even take our felt boots off. To hell with it...

    For several days we have hung about in this same place, because of this damned Loimola. Our casualties are heavy..., more from frostbite than from enemy fire. The butchers are accustomed to fire carefully at our troops from the side of the road. We can't even put ouroses out of the trenches. Our men have launched several attacks but have always been beaten back.

    The barbed wire is man-high. Tank obstacles are everywhere. The marshes and splendidly camouflaged posts around us make the Finns invulnerable."

    [...]
    Last edited by Mangrove; 14 May 08, 12:51.

  • #2
    Thank you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes indeed, thank you. if you got more I think we all would apreciate further translations

      /Thomas
      http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y29...ussianppsh.jpg
      www.reenactor.se

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ThomasM View Post
        Yes indeed, thank you. if you got more I think we all would apreciate further translations
        Well, I got 40+ pages and I don't think it would be wise to post them all. My source is following: Oreshin. 1941. Politruk Oreshinin päiväkirja / Дневник Политрука Орешина / The Diary of Politruk Oreshin. Lord Carlow, Helsinki.
        Last edited by Mangrove; 15 May 08, 02:02.

        Comment


        • #5
          Aha, I thought you did own translation work!
          Ok I see, so the book is out to fetch around, aha!
          Oh well nice reading anyway

          /Thomas
          http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y29...ussianppsh.jpg
          www.reenactor.se

          Comment


          • #6
            19/12. [...] There are stories going about the examining of prisoners. They talk about the great losses caused by our artillery. It is not to be wondered at. Today for instance, our guns have been firing without ceasing. They say that our men found at Souvilahti, a picture of Lenin on the back of which was written "Greetings to our Russian comrades".

            The prisoners report that they were not issued with greatcoats. Several of them are wearing the trousers they were wearing when they left home. "We should have come over to you long ago, but our officers keep and eye on us and shoot anyone who takes even a few careless steps towards your lines..." one prisoner said.

            We are still unable to advance and are suffering heavy casualties. Yesterday the butchers became so cheeky that they began to attack our positions. They were warmly received and many of them given peae for eternity.

            Comment


            • #7
              [...]

              [No date]. We have got through six barbed wire entanglements and four tank traps. All the roads are mined. The mines disappear during the day but during the night are back again in their places.

              The Finnish officers put their machine guns nests in the trees, choosing solidary trees growing alongside the road. I saw how one of these "Forest Eagles" was brought down from a tree. He had no time even to fire a single round bere our snipers knocked him down.

              Probably an artillery observer?

              [...]

              We often find large numbers of sound and broken bicycles in the road. I should just like to mention one example. A bicycle lying by the roadside. A new German bicycle with its gleaming nickel parts - looks very innocent, but it is connected up to a mine - no comments are needed.

              One of our tanks drove over a mine which exploded and threw it four metres into the air: in spite of this it suffered little damage and went on its way.

              I dream all the time of some way to get hold of a Finnish knife. We are now at the staion of Paperi.

              Yesterday evening a plane appeared over our lines. It was fe on although it clearly bore our markings.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm posting original Soviet diaries over to the Axis History Forum. Here's one of them. If you know Russian and want to help me with the transcription and translation work, you are of course free to post here too.

                http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtop...?f=59&t=139005







                Comment


                • #9
                  Decided to bump up this thread with some new material from the Winter and Continuation War. First a diary by Sergeant Nekrasov. He was part of the 56th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion, 18th Rifle Division, and was killed in action on 2 December 1939 in Ladoga Karelia.
                  30 November 1939.
                  1. Our detachment arrived to the border at 9 a.m., III platoon was the first to cross the border and we carefully monitored people crossing it.
                  2. Artillery fire started at 8.00 a.m. and ended at 8.15 a.m.
                  3. We dug out a [Finnish] border pole at 9.30 a.m.
                  4. The other platoons crossed the border at 10 a.m. They crossed roadless forests and swamps during the day and met a first patrol in the evening. They were unable to capture any Finn. The Finns abandoned their weapons, ammunitions, bayonets and clothes and ran away.

                  1 December.
                  We guarded the whole day at a swampy forest. We camped at forest. All quiet.

                  2 December.
                  We met the III platoon at the customs. Patrol camped there were our guard had been shot and the platoon leader(?) had wounded (comrade Tjallov). The guard moved.
                  Supply NCO Kasarew/Karasew from Soviet Infantry Regiment 255. He was shot dead in front of Finnish Infantry Regiment 7's sector named "Kreml" on 1 April 1942 at 10 p.m. The diary was translated and published on the regimental paper Tyrjän lehti in late 1942.
                  27 - 30 January 1942. Guard duty. Off the line. Lost the feeling for responsibility. [?], excelling. Cleanliness at dugout.
                  31 January - 4 February. At the 3rd battery. Colonel Filijonov. Wealthy in expense of Red Army soldier.

                  5 - 15 February. Rest. Walks. Warm weather. 600 g of bread starting on 11 February. Complaint to the Commissar.
                  16 February. To Regiment HQ. Witness reports. At the Chief of Staff. Conversation behind the wall from my complaint. Chief of Staff: "Throw him out"!
                  17 February. At the Comissar. Good man. "Isn't it cold, come in". Released. To the 1st Battalion. [He] Shaked my hand.
                  21 February. Guard duty.
                  22 February. Chopping wood.
                  23 February. Porridge, cabbage soup. Comissar at radio booth. Shaked my hand. Departure. Where? 14 km. Handing over the fur coat. I object. 2 km, another two. To 272.
                  24 February. At the Signal Battalion. Club. Cold. Breakfast: water and 200 g of bread. Rest. Forward, refusing. Give me food. I will stay. 10 km at night? 5 hours at freezing cold? No! To the 4th unit. Back to Ski Battalion. Night. Hunger. 600 g of dry food. I'm not hungry. Happy.
                  25 February. First night with full stomach. At the kitchen. A simple trick. I ate until it hurt my stomach. (Promoted) to Quartermaster! Senior Politruk: "There is work to be done". Three days of rest at medical unit. 100 g of spirit.
                  26 February. I ate too much. Fats. 800 of bread, 235 of potatoes, 43 of meat, 35 of sugar, 20 of macaroni, 150 of butter!
                  27 February. Departure to Infantry Regiment 255. Shame that not to the Ski Battalion. Good reception. Sugar - a smoke? The front - danger? Behind the lines? Should I try to get out? I have seen men from the Front. Freezing temperatures scare me. Hunger compels.
                  28 February. I have eaten too much. Two porridges, two cabbage soups and 600 g of bread during meal. I got two kilograms of bread.

                  1 March. I have eaten enough bread. Still the same weakness.
                  2 March. Warm February. Sun, silence. Chopping wood.
                  3 March. The doctor does not know anything. (He do not sent me to the hospital.)
                  4 March. Supply - rot place. Cooks gain weight. Soldiers get water. Departure to the battalion.
                  5 March. At the 6th Company. Senior and Junior Commissar are brutal.
                  6 March. Saturday duty. Too much ammunition (200 pieces). One set of rounds per man per day? Alarm.
                  7 March. Cleaning trenches. Cold. Quiet. Finns two kilometers from here.
                  8 March. Cleaning trenches. To banya. Diarrhea.
                  9 March. Guard duty. Two men at the time. Diarrhea.
                  10 March. I am sick. No letters. No opportunity to write. Platoon leader, Staff Sergeant, sits next to his table - he receives no food. Fur coat has been taken away. Cold. Hunger.
                  11 March. Discussion with the leader of the half platoon. Leshenko.
                  12 March. Freezing temperatures. Assigned to lead the second half platoon.
                  13 March. Cleaning tank obstacles. I cannot raise my hands, too high. Very cold.
                  14 March. Platoon's Duty NCO. Also on 15 March. Senior lieutenant at Battalion HQ has leftovers from bread. They receive 40 g more butter. Spirits for recons.
                  16 March. Doing patrol. Mission is to take a prisoner. 200 meters from Finns. Tired like in 164. 200 - 400 g of bread is not enough. Meat is like
                  rubber. Butter is bad. I am in bad shape.
                  17 March. Meeting the doctor. Distrustful, but managed to get two days of rest. A boil in the face.
                  18 March. Junior lieutenant Zverez ordered to work. I have declined.
                  19 March. Complaint to the Politruk. He ordered to work. I have requested transfer to another platoon.
                  20 March. Junior lieutenant Zverez deign to grant me two days of rest. The same discussions are present also in here: food, hunger.
                  21 March. Rest.
                  23 March. As Company Duty NCO. Battalion commander ordered to keep the places cleaner. Discussion on transfer to more suitable job.
                  24 March. I have discussed to the Battalion Supply Officer of my illness. Battalion commander is inspecting the kitchen tomorrow. Snow melts. Water.
                  25 March. Tactical exercise. Cold.
                  26 March. Company Duty NCO.
                  27 March. I have done nothing. Breakfast was tossed away. I cannot eat. Bad food.
                  28 March. Bad food (unclear, on food).
                  29 March. Cleaning trenches. Finns have noticed us. They shot with mortar. A granade exploded a meter from me. Gas mask was broken. Ears ring. I was transferred to another position. Run out of strength.
                  30 March. Company Duty NCO. Company CO Ogored has forbidden to leave to the Battalion aid station.
                  31 March. Alarm during the night. I have waited for a change. I did not wanted to go the trench. Sent away. Company CO confiscated my cigarettes. I am sick and weak. Hard to walk. Battalion CO (unclear). New duty post. Finns are active. Bunker was blown up.
                  1 April. At duty. Cleaning trenches during the night. Assigned to a patrol. Capturing prisoner. Give me food. I cannot walk.
                  Some letters I retranslated from the translated GUGB censorship reports:
                  [Early December 1939]...There are many casualties, a lot of them, due to the fact that we arrived to a large fortification made out of reinforced concrete. We have been laying there under the enemy fire for six days. The fortification is very strong and is made at Hitler's place a few years ago. Many people are laying dead in front of the fortification...
                  [Early December 1939]...My feet are frozen and I am behind the line on stretchers, at most 10 of the 65 men on our company survived. The company CO is badly wounded, does he survive or not, I do not know. No one is commanding and we cannot reach our own border, alone or not. The Finns will catch and kill you. If you are willing or not, you will die in battle or on the road. Do not wait for my return to home, I will not return...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So the nasty Finns killed the poor Soviets who'd only violated their borders and threatened their homes and families.

                    Those diarists are in a warm enough place now.
                    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by the ace View Post
                      So the nasty Finns killed the poor Soviets who'd only violated their borders and threatened their homes and families.

                      Those diarists are in a warm enough place now.
                      You've got it wrong here. This last guy was killed far beyond any historical borders of Finland, shot by one of the minor Nazi allies which were implementing their own "Russian Holocaust" plan were at the very time this diary written.

                      Don't forget to check your facts before pooping out another Russia-bashing comment.
                      www.histours.ru

                      Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                        You've got it wrong here. This last guy was killed far beyond any historical borders of Finland, shot by one of the minor Nazi allies which were implementing their own "Russian Holocaust" plan were at the very time this diary written.

                        Don't forget to check your facts before pooping out another Russia-bashing comment.
                        Yes, it is a fact that in 1939 Finland was going to turn Leningrad into a lake, or reservoir or something.
                        Wisdom is personal

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                          This last guy was killed far beyond any historical borders of Finland, shot by one of the minor Nazi allies which were implementing their own "Russian Holocaust" plan were at the very time this diary written.
                          If you are referring to the Kasarew diary, I think you should remember your own advice. It has been clearly shown by Finnish and international research that there was no "Russian holocaust" plan implemented by Finnish troops during the Continuation War. However there was negligence by individuals and the Finnish government that was investigated already during the War.

                          Prisoners of War and Internees
                          The mass deaths of Soviet Prisoners of War in Finland and the negligence of the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian Red Crosses by Lars Westerlund.
                          [...]
                          ...the conditions in which the Soviet POWs lived had been constantly improved in small steps from the summer of 1942 onwards, and especially during the last days of the Continuation War and during the fall of that year [1944], they were better supplied than ever while discipline was no longer enforced as harshly as before.
                          [...]
                          The Finnish SPR [Red Cross] did not launch aid projects of its own dedicated to helping the POWs, because all of the organization’s resources were already tied up with the operation of the military hospitals and with other missions.
                          Internment and deportation in WWI and WWII: A comparative study with a special survey of the situation in Finland by Lars Westerlund.
                          [...]
                          Over 85,000 Soviet civilians came under Finnish control in those parts of Soviet Eastern Karelia that were conquered by the Finnish Army. From 1941 to 1944, about 24,000 of them were placed in concentration and relocation camps, after plans to ferry the population of Äänisniemi over Lake Onega to the Soviet Union were abandoned.
                          [...]
                          In violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Finnish occupation was particularly active in radically changing the infrastructure of the occupied territories, while at the same time relocating existing populations and attempting to completely erase every trace of Soviet institutions and culture. Nevertheless, from the point of view of international customary law during WWII, the actions of the Finnish occupation authorities in Eastern Karelia do not seem worse to any significant degree than those of other occupying forces.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Martti Kujansuu View Post
                            If you are referring to the Kasarew diary, I think you should remember your own advice. It has been clearly shown by Finnish and international research that there was no "Russian holocaust" plan implemented by Finnish troops during the Continuation War. However there was negligence by individuals and the Finnish government that was investigated already during the War.

                            Prisoners of War and Internees
                            This is perfectly the same line of argumentation that the Nazi leadership used as an excuse for starving Soviet POWs and population. The truth is that they did not plan to feed them at their own expense as they should have done, and that the Soviet POWs and internees were treated with extreme brutality - something testified by many survivors' stories. Beatings by Finnish guards were nearly as savage what the Japanese did in WW2.
                            www.histours.ru

                            Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                              Beatings by Finnish guards were nearly as savage what the Japanese did in WW2.
                              Please provide references of wide-spread violence among Finnish guards on a new thread.

                              Comment

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