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Soviet war invalids on Solovki islands

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  • Soviet war invalids on Solovki islands

    This is a post in LJ I've noticed recently and decided to translate parts of it for the forum.

    In 1950 the Soviet government ordered to organise a house of invalids for disabled soldiers of the Great Patriotic War. Many of them, being unable to do any kind of work and getting miserable pensions, started begging in the streets to drown their sorrows in alcohol. Quite soon they became a sore sight on the streets of the country that was emerging from the ruins. The invalids were pulled off the streets and permanently settled on Solovki, where they were provided medical care. There were many urban legends about forced "abductions" of these people but so far there's no confirnation to them either from the archives or from the relatives. There also were those who asked the authorities to report their relatives about their deaths as they didn't want to return back home without their hands and legs to become a burden for their families.

    In 1974 the sanitarium was visited by the artist Gennady Dobrov, who became interested in something that many other artists would avoid - painting suffering and crippled people who were living their last days on a remote island. He left about 40 drawings, and here are a few of them:

    Lieutenant Alexander Podosenov. A German bullet went through his skull without killing him but leaving him immobilised.

    "The tale about medals". Private Ivan Zabara, pointing at his medal for the battle of Stalingrad.

    The sailor Alexey Chkheidze jokingly called himself a "prosthetic man". A young naval infantry scout, he fought all the way from Odessa to Vienna. He, among other Soviet naval infantrymen, saved the Royal Palace in Budapest from complete destruction. His comrades were all killed in that battle. Already after the Victory he was hit by an accidental landmine explosion, losing both his hands and turning blind and almost deaf. In spite of this tradegy, he found the strength to write a book by reading it on a microphone ("Notes of a Danube scout") and even organised a war relic search group in a nearby school.

    "Portrait of a woman with a burnt face". She fainted and fell into an open furnace upon hearing the news the war had started. Her husband was appointed to the garrison of the Brest Fortress shortly before that, and her heart spoke true - he was killed in battle. The woman sang folk songs to an unknown tune to the artist that he was greatly fascinated with.

    When the artist went into a ward, he felt someone's sight on himself. He turned around and saw a man without limbs wrapped in a blanket. A duty medic approached him. "Who is this man?" asked the artist. "He's got no documents. And he won't say. After the injury he lost his hearing, memory and speech". Dobrov called this picture "The Unknown".

    More pictures:

    "Rest on the way"

    "Return from a walk"

    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

  • #2
    Heartbreaking, thank you for posting this.
    "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
    "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
    "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire


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