In the summer of 1944, all of Byelorussia and a significant part of Lithuania were liberated by our troops. But in these territories there were many enemy agents, scattered groups of German soldiers, gangs, underground organizations. All these illegal forces acted suddenly and brutally: they already had a lot of murders and other crimes, in addition, the tasks of underground organizations included the collection and transfer of information about the Red Army to the Germans.
On August 13, an unknown radio, wanted in the Niemen case, again aired in the area of Shilovichi. To find out the exact place of her exit is entrusted to the “operative-search group” of Captain Alekhine. Pavel Vasilyevich Alekhin himself is trying to find out something in the villages, two other members of the group, an experienced cleaner, a 25-year-old senior lieutenant Yevgeny Tamantsev and a very young guard-trainee guards lieutenant Andrei Blinov, carefully inspect the forest. Even minor
evidence, such as snacks and abandoned cucumbers or wrappers from German fat, can help scouts. Alyokhin learns that near the Shilovichi forest on that day they saw two military men and Kazimir Pavlovsky, possibly serving with the Germans. On the second day of searches, Tamantsev finds the place where the radio goes live.
The group traces two suspicious military men, discovered by Blinov. Pursuit, searches throughout the Lida lead nowhere: Blinov loses sight of the person with whom the suspects met, and the request confirms their loyalty. And yet Alyokhin can not drop this version until there is incontrovertible evidence. Only later it turns out that the auditees are not agents, and therefore, in Tamantsev’s words, they “dragged a pacifier” for almost three days.
Meanwhile, Tamantsev with the seconded officers is working out the second version: from ambush they are watching the house of Julia Antoniuk, which the suspect Pavlovsky can visit. Tamantsev “podnataskivaet” their not particularly experienced wards: explains to them what counterintelligence is, and gives specific instructions
for action in the case of the appearance of Pavlovsky. And yet, when Tamantsev tries to take alive a particularly dangerous agent Pavlovsky, he, because of the sluggish actions of the seconded, manages to commit suicide.
Head of the search department Lieutenant-Colonel “En Fe” Polyakov “if not God, then, undoubtedly, his deputy for the search,” a man whose opinion is very important for the whole group Alyokhin. The recent murder of the driver and the theft of the car, according to Polyakov, are the work of the hands of the wanted group. But all these are assumptions, not the results expected by Polyakov and Alyokhin, the head of the department, General Yegorov and not only him: the matter is taken over by the Stavka.
Blinov charged with a responsible task: taking a company, to find in the grove a small sapper blade, which had disappeared from the stolen car. Andrei is sure that the authorities will not fail, but the whole day of searching leads to nothing. Upset Blinov and does not suspect that just the absence of a scapula in the grove confirms Polyakov’s version.
Polyakov reports to Yegorov and the Moscow authorities who came to Moscow on their views on the “strong qualified enemy intelligence group.” In his opinion, the hiding place with a walkie-talkie is located in the Shilovichi forest area. There is a real chance tomorrow or the day after tomorrow to take wanted persons red handed and get a “moment of truth”, that is “the moment of receipt from the captured agent of information conducive to the capture of the entire wanted group and the full implementation of the case.” The Moscow authorities suggest conducting an army operation. Yegorov sharply objects: a large-scale military operation can sooner achieve the creation of a visibility of activity before the Stavka, and only get corpses. Against the Poles. They are given only a day, and in parallel, the preparation of an army operation begins. Of course, 24 hours is not enough,
The Supreme Commander is extremely worried and excited. Having read the information in the case of “Niemen”, he calls the head of the Main Department of Counterintelligence, the People’s Commissars of the State Security and Internal Affairs, and is linked to the “FH” with the fronts. This is the most important strategic operation in the Baltics. If within a day the group “Niemen” is not caught and the leakage of classified information does not stop, “all the guilty will be deserved punishment!”
Tamantsev expects from Alekhine reproaches for the “lost” Pavlovsky. For Alyokhin, this is a very difficult day: he learned about his daughter’s illness and about the fact that the unique wheat he bred before the war was mistakenly exported to the bread-baking industry. Alyokhin with difficulty is distracted from heavy thoughts and focuses attention on Tamernsev’s foundry shovel.
And around it a truly grandiose activity unfolds, the flywheel of the huge mechanism of emergency search is unleashed with might and main. Servicemen, Smersh officers, identifiers, service dogs, equipment are brought from anywhere to participate in the events in the Niemen case. At railway stations, where enemy agents often work to collect information, suspicious people are checked. Many of them are detained, and then released.
Andrey together with the seconded assistant to the commandant Anikushin leaves for the Shilovichi forest. For Igor Anikushin this day was unsuccessful. In the evening he had to go to his beloved girl in a new, perfectly tailored dress uniform. And now the captain, who fought on the front line before the injury, because of the “ridiculous” task, is forced to lose time with these “idlers” “especialists”. The assistant to the commandant is particularly outraged that the yellow-throated stuttering lieutenant and the unsympathetic captain “secret” the essence of the matter from him.
A staff of fifteen generals and fifty officers was gathered at the headquarters, housed in an old abandoned building – the “Stodole”. Everyone is uncomfortable and hot.
Finally, the radio operator informs Polyakov’s group that in their direction three men are moving in military uniform. But an order comes to all to leave the forest immediately: at 17.00, an army operation should begin. Tamantsev is outraged, Alyokhin decides to stay: after all, Yegorov, who gave the order, most likely, does not know about those three who are already approaching the ambush.
As agreed, Alyokhin and the assistant commandant approach suspects and check documents, Tamantsev and Blinov insure them in ambush. Alyokhin copes magnificently with his role of a simple, vigilant serviceman, so Tamantsev “mentally applauds him.” At the same time Alyokhin must simultaneously “pump out” the data of all three for thousands of search orientations, evaluate documents, record the details of the behavior of the audited, “sharpen” the situation and do many more things that make even experienced “wolfhounds” to be strained. The documents are in perfect order, all three are kept naturally until Alyokhin asks them to show the contents of the items.
At the decisive moment, Anikushin, who did not want to understand the importance and danger of what was happening, suddenly shielded Alyokhin from the ambush. But Tamantsev acts quickly and clearly even in this situation. When the attackers attack Alyokhin and wound him in the head, Tamantsev and Blinov jump out of the ambush. Blinov’s shot hits the skin of a skinhead. “Pumping the pendulum”, that is, unerringly reacting to the actions of the enemy, evading shots, Tamantsev neutralizes a strong and strong “senior lieutenant.” Blinov and the sergeant-radio operator delay the third, “lieutenant.” Although Tamantsev managed to shout to the assistant commandant: “Lie down!” – he could not navigate in time and was killed in a shootout. Now, however cruelly, Anikushin, who first prevented the ambush, “helped” the group in “emergency evisceration”: Tamantsev,
The “moment of truth” is received: these are really agents that pass through the Neman case: the oldest of them is Mishchenko. It is confirmed that Pavlovsky was also their accomplice, that “Notary”, as the Polyakov supposed, is already detained Komarnitsky, “Matilda” is located near Siauliai, where Tamantsev plans to fly. In the meantime, without eight minutes five, Alyokhin rushed through the radio operator: “Grandma has arrived,” which means that the core of the group and the radio have been captured, the military operation is not needed. Blinov worries that he did not take the agent alive. But Tamantsev is proud of the “trainee-ignorant” who dumped the legendary Mishchenko, who could not be caught for many years. Only now, when everything is over, Alyokhin allows himself to be bandaged. Tamantsev, imagining how happy “En Fe”, unable to restrain himself,