His dream of seizing Berlin didn’t come true. Abdullo Gaibov was knocked out of action by another heavy wound he received when liberating Minsk. “For me, the war is endless physical suffering and pain, death of my friends and… dirt. Not so much physical, as spiritual… But, of course, it is also memories of the Great Victory, which was “one for all” and which was given to us after innumerable losses and trials,” says the former soldier
Abdullo for the first time fully realized what war is and what was his place in it near Morshansk, where the 67th rifle division of the 99th guard regiment was deployed at the time another batch of Central Asian draftees arrived. One usually remembers one’s baptism by fire till the end of one’s life…
“It all began with a shell attack. Blinding flares and the thunder of rocket launchers filled everything around us. Katyushas’ salvos shook the earth and the air. The fire was so intense that the Germans couldn’t raise their heads: 320 shells in 10 seconds were to be reckoned with!
“I don’t remember how long it was going on. But then we heard the command, “Over the top!” Blinded and deafened, our infantry rose from the trenches. And dashed forward all at once. I, too, started running… The dispatch- case was beating against my leg, hurting it and opening again and again; the white camouflage cloak tangled my arms, interfering with my firing; a cough was gnawing at my throat; my eyes were teary because of the smokeoned with!
hollows in the snow seemed to come one after another. Stumbling, I saw through the corner of my eye how my fellow soldiers fell down, sprinkling the snow with their blood… And an enemy trench at last! I jump down. Touch land, barely dodging a bayonet. Mechanically press the trigger of my submachine gun, and a German falls at my feet. In my mind, I understand that if I hadn’t killed him, he would have killed me. But it doesn’t make it easier. Everything within me stops in tracks, realizing the proximity of death…”
It was the first, but, unfortunately, not the last time Abdullo met it. Over the war years the “toothless old woman” often came very close to him, and it was not always like it was near Morshansk.
“West of Moscow, the troops of the Kalinin front, which included our 99th regiment, went into the offensive. “…Somewhere beyond the forest battle is going on for Staraya Rusa. Cannons are moaning, shells exploding. For me, it is already over. Deaf and motionless, I am lying under snow in an unknown ravine until my comrades find me and, thinking that I am dead, take me to a common grave. I spent another night there, unconscious, shellshocked, on the snow, in the cold. And then the burial starts. Soldiers are taking the boots off the dead (the living have fighting to do!). They are in a hurry. It doesn’t go easily. Suddenly, a boot goes off at once. And then the other one. “He must be alive!” an astonished soldier leaned over me.
“I would learn all this much later. At the time, I was quickly sent to hospital. But the death notice had already been sent to the remote Tajik town of Ura- Tyube, and my family thought me dead till the end of the war.”
“Honestly, for us, Tajiks, waging war was difficult. The climate was different; we didn’t know Russian. By that time, I already was a qualified teacher. But a majority hadn’t completed even secondary education. Moreover, many had never held a rifle in their hands before. But mutual help and everyone’s desperate courage saved us. I still remember the names of my compatriots that fought with me: Safar Baratov from Garm (he died of wounds after returning home from war), Makhmadsaid Bobokalonov from the Rokhi Nav collective farm in the Dangarinsky district (he also died of wounds after the war), Makhmad Niyozov… Sharing the last piece of bread and defending each other’s back, we travelled the paths of war together. In 1944, they brought us to Minsk.
“Fighting was intense at the time. Our troops alternately went into the offensive and then into the defensive. Dirt, mosquitoes, impassable roads. We felled trees in order to make way for tanks and artillery. On July 3, we finally reached Minsk, which, all surrounded by block obstacles and trenches, from distance seemed an inaccessible fortress. At a closer distance, it was indeed well protected; we had to fight to each house. It is difficult to say how long our counterattack lasted. I will say only one thing, for me it was short. I remember putting my greatcoat over the barbed wire of the fence, rolling over it to the enemy territory and… something exploding in front of my eyes. The last thing I remember from that battle is the rumble of a shell that exploded nearby…
“The medical unit and the hospital train were like in a fog. Like scraps of pain, thought and feeling, I remember the words of the orderlies, “He has lost much blood, unlikely to survive,” the narrow passage of the last car, where they put me up with difficulty, and bombing, in which my car was the only one that remained intact… Compared to this hell I went through hardly realizing that I was at death’s door, the hospital near Ivanovo seemed a paradise: all around it, there was forest, silence and new milk every morning… Only one thing was bad: my leg turned black. Fearing gangrene, the surgeons insisted on amputation.” Abdullo refused out of what strength he had left. The doctors shrugged, “What will you do with this stubborn beggar?” And then the leg revived. “Gradually, I went over to crutches. I even was going to return to my unit, but I didn’t get the chance, as I was invalided out of the army.”
“There is no saying how my old mother, who had already “buried” me, welcomed me home: everyone can easily imagine what it is like to get back a loved one you thought gone for good.
“I am often asked how I see that great battle from the distance of all these years. What memories did it leave besides the signs of valor the country awarded me with (the order of the Great Patriotic war and eight medals, including the medal “For Courage”)? I always answer honestly, and I can repeat it now: for me, the war was endless physical suffering and pain, death of my friends and… dirt. Not so much physical, as spiritual. The one you can never wash off. The past you cannot strike out. But at the same time, it is the memory of the Great Victory, which was “one and for all” for our country and which was given to us after innumerable losses and trials…”