“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“Vuchetich’s inspiration for the monument was Soviet soldier Nikolai Masalov (1922-2001), who on April 30, 1945 found a German girl wandering near Potsdamer Platz during the Battle of Berlin and brought her to safety. Despite rumors that this episode was Soviet propaganda, owing to a journalist use of a different name for the girl’s rescuer, officially confirmed documents exist that substantiate at least five cases of Russian solders delivering small German children to orphanages during the Battle of Berlin.”
(from Soviet War Memorial)
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“I can tell you my grandfather’s story. I heard it from him when I was about 7-8, so there are things I do not know.
He was an officer of the Military Engineers or what it’s called. They planted mines and dismantled German mines. He was severely wounded twice, and this story is about the second time.
I do not know how they got to be in the battle, or which one it was, or even where. The Russians “won”, collected the bodies and buried all, Russian and German alike, in a “brotherhood” grave.
My grandfather was wounded in the head… He was considered dead and buried with all the bodies.
Some time after he came to and discovered he was lying in a pitch dark hole with bodies piled on him. It took him a while to get what happened, but he knew he must try to get out. He started pushing the bodies and wriggling to get higher, and it was very hard. Then he discovered he was not the only one alive, one of the Germans was, too, lying right there close to him. When they knew they were both of them alive, they started cooperating and it took them a very long time, but they managed to help each other out. They lay on the opened grave for a long time, resting (remember that both were gravely wounded and lost a lot of blood). Then they started to move away.
They walked and rested alternately for two days, and on the third morning they have come up on a Russian regiment. My grandfather did not acceppt treatment until he was assured that the German would be treated and taken to the hospital, too. He was later demobilized, after a long period in the hospital, and he kept track of the German, and made sure he was moved to a prisoner camp and later freed.
He said there were many stories like this one, and he always wondered how many didn’t make it out of the graves.”
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