Meeting history: WWII veterans revisit memories of war

Screenshot from RT video
RT joined World War II veterans in their return to places where they confronted the Nazi invaders to relive their heroic memories together as part of a project dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the end of bloodiest war in history.

Mark Ivanikhin came to Red Square in the heart of Moscow where he participated in the historic November 7, 1941 parade.

The mortar gunner, together with thousands of other soldiers, headed straight to the front-line from Red Square to repel the Nazi’s offensive on the capital.

Ivanikhin stressed that staging a parade, reviewed by supreme commander himself, in such a difficult period in the war was essential for boosting the morale of Soviet troops.

“When they woke us up at 6:00am on November 7 it was snowing. Everything was covered in snow. We saw it and rejoiced as it meant that there would be no German aviation and no bombardment,” he said.

The veteran believes that the Soviet people prevailed against the Nazis because “we never had a thought that we’ll give Moscow up and that we’ll lose the war.”

Anatoly Kozlov greeted the channel’s crew in Volgograd – formerly known as Stalingrad – the city, which became the venue of one of the world’s bloodiest battles.

The infantry man survived the hell of the Battle of Stalingrad and went on to liberate Hungary’s Budapest and the Austrian capital, Vienna.

The fighting in Stalingrad was “really tough” as it was after the controversial but famous Order No. 227 ‘Not one step back!’ was issued and “people fought to the death,” Kozlov recalled.

Lidia Romanova was only six years old when the war began and the city of Leningrad was surrounded by Nazi forces.

She lost her father, a sister and two brothers during the exhausting siege of the city, which lasted for 872 days.

“When we were short of food my legs went numb. I spent all time in bed,” she told RT.

Romanova said that “hunger” was a hard issue to discuss during the siege: “My mother never talked to me about it. But afterwards she said that she survived only because I was around.”

Yakov Reznik returned to Berlin to remember the final days of war, which ended in May 1945 after the red Soviet flag was raised over Reichstag.

The veteran recalled the days when he and his brothers in arms liberated Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Austria from the Nazis.

RT’s #Victory70 online project put together personal stories of the veterans, recounting the hardships and dangers of the war.

Personal letters and frontline photographs of soldiers, nurses, prisoners of war and civilians from both the Soviet and the German side tell the actual stories of the biggest conflict in modern history.

From vows to die but not surrender, to a lover's promise to come back from the last offensive, they provide an astonishing insight of how the war touched almost everyone at the time.

A special feature of our project is a heatmap of the Great Patriotic War - the USSR's confrontation with the Nazi Germany.

The conflict, which saw hundreds of battles spanning almost four years across Europe and the western USSR, has been meticulously mapped into a dynamic graphic, complete with a timeline that reveals the true scale of events that shook the world 70 years ago.