- About us
What is 78 years ago? For most of us, it's old history. And what if there are people beside us who impersonate that 'living history'? We, Svetlana Chekvaskina and Alyona Strunina, had a chance to meet the veterans of the World War II who live in Basmannyy District. Their stories gave us a new perspective on the present day.
Our holding managed to raise a total of RUB 83,500. We used this money to buy flower bouquets, greeting cards, with RUB 4,000 inside of each, and food baskets for 14 veterans (the baskets included red salmon caviar, red wine, 'Rublevskiy' duck pate with prunes, 'Rossiya' chocolate, 'Belevskiy' zefir, soft biscuits with jam, black tea in festive heart-shaped boxes, fruit puree).
The first person we visited with our flowers and gifts was the wonderful lady Kseniya Arkhipovna, who had just finished school when the war broke out. Back then, she lived in Novosibirsk, and at first she was working at an armament factory which was producing arms for the front. Half a year later, she decided to take up radio operator classes, although everyone at the factory was officially in reserve. After finishing her studies, she became an excellent specialist and was deployed to the Belorussian Front. 'Any radio contact could be the last one for an operator–the enemies tracked out signals quickly and immediately made air strikes. Radio operators were working in bunkers almost all the time, and we barely saw the light of day', said Kseniya Arkhipovna. But she also keeps good memories of those times: their dances in between radio contacts, brave and fair officers, war letters. When the war was over, she got a law degree and worked as a lawyer all her life.
Our next veteran was Grigoriy Stepanovich, born in 1924 in Voronezh Region. This is a man full of energy, a wonderful story teller with a great sense of humour, and you would never guess that he's 94 years old. He was deployed in 1942, after a tankers course in Gorkiy (now Nizhny Novgorod). Grigoriy Stepanovich lost his arm and was shell-shocked during the war, but he made good friends and acquaintances in battle, and he remembers their names to this day, although many of them passed away a long time ago. He doesn't like to talk about the war and only tells the funny stories. 'I arrived at the hospital with decorations for one of the soldiers, and their officer told me to go to their banya. We hadn't had a chance to do that for months. So I got in, took my clothes off, and as I was rubbing soap all over myself, the door opened—nurses came to wash the injured. Those ladies were the pick of the bunch. I got so shy, and they started laughing at me… I can barely find words to describe how embarrassed I was at that moment', Grigoriy Stepanovich laughed. By 1945, he was a senior lieutenant with the Order of the Red Star, and he was only 21. After the war, Grigoriy Stepanovich was admitted to Plekhanov Institute, and upon graduation he worked in the State Committee on Prices of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, under command of Mikoyan. At the end of our meeting, Grigoriy Stepanovich gave us a piece of advice: 'Appreciate the time. I know I look young, but I'm 94 years old. I did not notice how time flew by. You need to appreciate it'.
The third stop of our congratulatory party was at Yekaterina Andreyevna's, she was born in 1928. For all her life, including the war time, she lived in the Far East. She did not want to discuss the horrors of war, but she was happy to tell us about her profession—she worked as a journalist for Khabarovsk television. She was always in the middle of cultural events: there were plenty of theatre and music tours, and later she even wrote a book about the history of local television.
Anna Yakovlevna, born in 1926, was also happy to see us. During the war, she was a nurse, and after the Victory Day she became a doctor. She is a very hospitable and joyful lady. 'Good heavens, why are you so pale and skinny? You need to eat and go out more!' Anna Yakovlevna called us out jokingly.
It took some effort to meet our next veteran, Antonina Karpovna. She didn't open the door straightaway and 'held the line' until her neighbour, Anna Yakovlevna, called and convinced her that we were not swindlers. But it was worth it: we meet the war veteran born in 1915 (!!!). Yes, that is correct. Antonina Karpovna is 104 years old, but she does not even look 80: she can walk on her own, she talks elaborately, does her own hair and makeup… She also told us that when she was 96 she found out she could write poems. A wonderful lady who lives just beside us, in Basmannyy District!
Stella Markovna also didn't give in without a battle—she only let us in after talking to the Veterans Union. We were happy to finally meet this petite lady who was very kind and friendly in person. To pose for our picture, she put on her white jacket with medals and later sighed about not looking as pretty as on her other photos. Even at 94 and after, a woman is still a woman.
Anna Aleksandrovna, born in 1928, was very glad to see us. She hasn't left her house in a while because despite her respectable age she is taking care of her paralysed daughter-in-law. You can't help but admire how strong that woman is, mentally and physically. During the war, she did not take part in battle or win medals, but she was still doing something very useful—sewing uniforms for soldiers. After the war, she kept working as a seamstress until her retirement.
In only 2 days—on the 6th and 7th of May—we managed to visit over 10 veterans. We had to take some of the gifts to the Veterans Union because the recipients were away for the holiday with their families. But we were promised that everyone will receive their presents.
We will always remember these wonderful meetings and warm conversations. It seemed that the veterans wished us even more than we wished them in our congratulations—that's how kind and humble they are. They passed their sincere gratitude to the company and all the employees for this gesture. And we would also like to thank you all. Together we have done something very good—we've shown our dear veterans that we love and remember them. And that made us feel good as well. We honestly hope that the 'Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten' event will become a tradition at Vipservice holding.