Spring. Upper Don. The narrator and his friend rode on the carriage, harnessed by two horses, to the village of Bukanovskaya. It was difficult to drive – the snow began to melt, the dirt impassable. And here near the farm Mokhovskogo river Elanka. Shallow in summer, now spilled a full kilometer. Together with the unknown driver from where the narrator swims the river on some dilapidated boat. The driver drove to the river a Willys car in the barn, got into the boat, and went back. Promised to return in 2 hours.
The narrator sat down on the fallen wattle fence and wanted to smoke – but the cigarettes were wet during the crossing. So would he miss him for two hours in silence, alone, without food, water, booze and tobacco – as a man with a child approached him, he greeted. The man (this was the main character of the subsequent narrative Andrei Sokolov) took the narrator for the driver – because of the nearby car and went to talk to a colleague: he himself
was a chauffeur, only in a lorry. The narrator did not frustrate the interlocutor, revealing his true profession (and remaining unknown to the reader) and lied about what awaits the authorities.
Sokolov replied that he was not in a hurry, and he wanted to smoke. Alone to smoke bored. When he saw the cigarettes, which he had opened for drying, he treated the narrator with his own tobacco.
They lit up and talked. The narrator was embarrassed because of petty deceit, so he listened more, and spoke Sokolov.
Pre-war life of Sokolov
– At first my life was ordinary. I myself am a native of the Voronezh province, from the year one thousand nine hundred. In the civil war was in the Red Army, in the division Kikvidze. In a hungry twenty-second year he went to the Kuban, to be fisted for kulaks, therefore he survived. And the father with his mother and sister of the house died of hunger. One left. Rodney – at least roll the ball, – nowhere, no one, not one soul. Well, a year later he returned from the Kuban, sold the hut, went to Voronezh. At first he worked in a carpentry artel, then
went to the plant, learned to be a locksmith. Shortly married. My wife was brought up in an orphanage. Orphan. I got a good girl! A quiet, merry, obsequious and clever woman, I’m not a couple. She had learned from childhood how much a pound worth was worth, perhaps it affected her character. From the side to look – not so she was a prominent, but after all, I was not looking at her from the side, but at point-blank range. And it was not more beautiful and desirable for me, there was not and never will be!
You come from work tired, and sometimes evil, like hell. No, she does not rude you in response to a rude word. Affectionate, quiet, does not know where to sit you, beats, so that with a small amount of money you can prepare a sweet piece. You look at her and walk away with your heart, and after a while you will embrace her, say: “Forgive me, dear Irinka, I was nagging you.” You see, my work was not working today. ” And again we have peace, and I have peace of mind.
Then he told me again about his wife, how she loved him and did not reproach him even when he had to drink too much with his comrades. But soon they had children – a son, and then – two daughters. Then the drinks were done – except that a mug of beer in the weekend itself allowed.
In 1929 his cars were carried away. He became a chauffeur of a truck. I lived for myself, but I made money. And then – the war.
War and captivity
The whole family saw him off to the front. The children held themselves in their hands, but the wife was very upset – the last time we saw each other, Andryusha… In general, and so sickening, and here also my wife is burying her alive. In frustrated feelings, he went to the front.
He was also a chauffeur in the war. Twice they easily wounded.
In May 1942, I was in Lozovenky. The Germans went on the offensive, and he volunteered to the front line to carry ammunition to our artillery battery. Ammunition did not take – the projectile fell very close, an explosive wave turned the car. Sokolov fainted. When I came to, I realized that I was in the rear of the enemy: the battle was rumbling somewhere behind, and tanks were passing by. He pretended to be dead. When he decided that all had passed – he lifted his head and saw six Nazis coming straight to him with machine guns. There was nowhere to hide, so he decided to die with dignity – he got up, although he could hardly stand on his feet – and looked at them. One of the soldiers wanted to shoot him – but the other kept it. They removed the boots from Sokolov and sent them on foot to the west.
After a while she caught up with a column of prisoners from the same division that he himself had barely escaped Sokolov. With them went on.
We spent the night in the church. Overnight there were 3 noteworthy events:
A) Someone who introduced himself as a military doctor, sent Sokolov dislocated during the fall from the truck’s hand.
B) Sokolov saved from the death of a platoon he did not know, whom the communist Kryzhnev was planning to extradite to the fascists as a communist. Sokolov strangled the traitor.
C) The Nazis shot and killed a believer who bored them with requests to leave the church for a visit to the toilet.
The next morning they began to ask – who is the commander, the commissar, the communist. Traitors were not there, so the Communists, commissars and commanders remained alive. They shot a Jew (perhaps it was a military doctor – at least in the film, the case is so represented) and three Russians, similar to Jews. They drove the prisoners further west.
All the way to Poznan Sokolov thought about escaping. At last a chance appeared: the prisoners were sent to dig graves, the guards distracted – he tugged to the east. On the fourth day the fascists caught up with the sheepdogs, Sokolov’s dogs nearly got bitten. A month he was kept in a cell, then sent to Germany.
“Half of Germany has traveled in this time: in Saxony, I worked in a silicate plant, and in the Ruhr area, I rolled off coal at the mine, and I made a hump in earthworks on the earthworks, and I stayed in Thuringia, and hell, where only it was not necessary to resemble the German land “
A hair’s breadth from death
In camp B-14 near Dresden worked Sokolov and others on a stone quarry. He disagreed with him, returning once after work to say, in a barrack, among other prisoners:
– They need four cubic meters of output, but on the grave to each of us and one cubic meter through the eyes will be enough
Someone informed the authorities about these words and the camp commandant Muller summoned him to him. Muller knew the Russian language perfectly, so he communicated with Sokolov without an interpreter.
“I will do you a great honor, now I will personally shoot you for these words.” It’s uncomfortable here, let’s go into the yard, you’ll sign up there. ” “Your will,” I tell him. He stood, thought, and then threw the gun on the table and poured a full glass of schnapps, picked up a slice of bread, put a slice of lard on it and he gave it to me and said: “Before the death drink, Russ Ivan, for the victory of German weapons.”
I put the glass on the table, put the snack and said: “I’m grateful for the treat, but I’m not drinking.” He smiles: “Do you want to drink for our victory? In that case, drink it for your own destruction.” And what was I supposed to lose? “I will drink to my death and deliverance from torment,” I tell him. In order to take a glass and in two sips –
And poured it into himself, and did not touch the snack, politely wiped his lips with his hand and said: “I’m grateful for the refreshment.” I’m ready, Herr the Commandant, come along, sign me. “
But he looks carefully and says: “You at least have a snack before you die.” I answer him: “I do not have a snack after the first glass”. He pours a second, serves me. I also drank the second and again I do not touch the snack, I bet on the courage, I think: “Though I’ll get drunk before going to the yard and parting with my life.” The commandant raised his white eyebrows high, asked: “Why do not you have a snack, Russ Ivan? Do not be shy!” And I told him my own: “I’m sorry, Herr the Commandant, and after the second glass I was not used to having a snack.” He puffed out his cheeks, snorted, and then as he roared and through the laughter something quickly speaks German. evidently, translates my words to friends. Those also laughed, pushed their chairs, turned their faces to me, and already, I noticed, they somehow looked at me, sort of softer.
A third glass is pouring me in the commandant’s office, and at the very hand they are shaking with laughter. I drank this glass of dripping, bitten off a small piece of bread, put the rest on the table. I wanted them, damned, to show that although I starve to death, but I’m not going to choke on their handouts, that I have my own, Russian dignity and pride, and that they have not turned me into a beast, no matter how hard they tried.
After that, the commandant became serious in appearance, straightened two iron crosses on his chest, went out unarmed from the table and said: “That’s right, Sokolov, you are a real Russian soldier.” You are a brave soldier, I am also a soldier and respect worthy opponents I will not shoot you, and besides, today our brave troops have come to the Volga and completely mastered Stalingrad, which is a great joy for us, and therefore I give you generous life. “Go to your bloc, and this is for your courage,” and gives me a small loaf of bread and a piece of fat from the table.
Kharchi shared the Sokolov with his comrades-all equally.
Liberation from captivity
In 1944, Sokolov was identified as a driver. He drove the German major engineer. He treated him well, sometimes shared food.
On the morning of June twenty-nine, my major orders my master to take him out of town, in the direction of Trosnitsa. There he supervised the construction of fortifications. Have left.
On the way Sokolov deafened the major, took the pistol and drove the car straight to where the land buzzes, where the battle is going.
The submachine gunners jumped out of the dug-out, and I purposely slowed down so that they could see that the major was on his way. But they shouted and shouted with their hands, they say, it’s impossible to go there, but I do not understand, I threw gascake and went to all eighty. While they came to their senses and began to beat the machine guns by car, and I’m already on a no-man’s land between funnels, I’m no worse than a hare.
Here the Germans are hitting behind, but here they are their own outlines, they scribble me to meet the machine guns. In four places the windshield was punched, the radiator was flogged with bullets… But now the forest is over the lake, ours run to the car, and I jumped into this wood, opened the door, fell to the ground and kissed it, and I have nothing to breathe…
Sokolov was sent to the hospital to be treated and fed up. In the hospital immediately wrote a letter to his wife. Two weeks later he received an answer from his neighbor Ivan Timofeevich. In June 1942, a bomb hit his house, his wife and both daughters were killed. My son was not at home. Upon learning of the death of his relatives, he volunteered for the front.
Sokolov was discharged from the hospital and received a month’s leave. A week later I got to Voronezh. He looked at the funnel on the spot where his house was – and on the same day went to the station. Back to the division.
But three months later, and I flashed with joy, like a sun from behind a cloud: Anatoly was found. He sent me a letter to the front, you see, from another front. I learned my address from a neighbor, Ivan Timofeevich. It turns out that he first fell into an artillery school; it was there that his talents for mathematics came in handy. A year later he graduated with honors from the school, went to the front and now he writes that he received the title of captain, commanded the battery “forty”, has six orders and medals.
May 9, 1945 Anatoly was killed by a sniper.
After the war
Andrew was demobilized. Where to go? He did not want to go to Voronezh.
I remembered that my friend, who had been demobilized in winter in a wound, lives in Uryupinsk, – he once invited me to his place, – he remembered and went to Uryupinsk.
My friend and his wife were childless, lived in their own house on the edge of the city. Although he had a disability, he worked as a chauffeur in an autorot, I also got a job there. Settled with a friend, they sheltered me.
Near the tea room he met the homeless boy Vanya. His mother was killed in an air raid (during the evacuation, probably), his father was killed at the front. Once, on the way to the elevator, Sokolov took Vanyushka with him and told him that he was his father. The boy believed and was very happy. He adopted Vanyushka. The friend’s wife helped to look after the child.
Maybe we would have lived with him for another year in Uryupinsk, but in November a sin happened to me: I was driving through mud, in one farm my car skidded, and then the cow turned up, and I knocked her down. Well, a well-known case, the women shouted, the people fled, and the road inspector is right there. I took a driver’s book from me, as I asked him to be merciful. The cow got up, pulled up its tail and began to gallop along the alleys, but I lost my books. He worked as a carpenter for winter, and then signed up with one friend, also a colleague, – he works as a chauffeur in your region in the Kashar district, – and he invited me to his place. He writes that, they say, you will work half a year on the carpentry part, and there in our region you will be given a new book. Here we are with the son and are sent to Kashary marching order.
Yes it is, as you say, and if I had this accident with a cow, I would still have moved from Uryupinsk. Anguish does not allow me to stay long in one place. It’s already when Vanyushka grows up and I have to determine him to school, then maybe I’ll calm down, settle in one place
Then the boat came and the narrator said goodbye to his unhappy acquaintance. And he began to think about what he had heard.
Two orphaned people, two grains of sand, abandoned to foreign lands by a military hurricane of unprecedented power… Something awaits them ahead? And I would like to think that this Russian person, a man of unbending will, will stand up and, alongside his father’s shoulder, will grow up who, having grown up, will be able to endure everything, to overcome everything on his way, if his Motherland calls to it.
With heavy sadness, I looked after them… Maybe everything would have worked out well in our parting, but Vanyushka, having gone a few steps and plaiting his toes, turned on his face to me, waved a pink little hand. And suddenly, like a soft, but clawed hand gripped my heart, and I turned away hastily. No, not only in a dream old men who have turned gray during the war are crying. They are crying and waking. The main thing here is to be able to turn away in good time. Here the most important thing is not to hurt the child’s heart, so that he does not see how burning and captivating a man’s tear runs down your cheek…