May Day is undoubtedly associated with sunshine, warmth, home comfort and joy. It also symbolizes unity, solidarity and togetherness.
On the eve of the Victory Day, this date has been obviously chosen for a good reason by the team of the “Victory Volunteers” movement to organize an online conference with Gennady Timofeev, a veteran of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), under the umbrella of the “Teleconference bridge with the Veteran” project.
Being personally interested in collecting, exploring and keeping individual stories about the Great Patriotic War and studying the combat path of my own grandfather, his fellow soldiers and other veterans for several years, I felt privileged to take part in it.
The telebridge brought together volunteers from Russia, Moldova and Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, Cyprus, Turkey, Palestine, Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt, Lebanon, Germany and Italy, Slovakia, Spain and Mauritius. All of us, the participants of the meeting, were able to listen to the first-hand story from the veteran, greet him and express gratitude personally.
Currently Gennady Ivanovich Timoveev lives in Vologda region, he is 93 years old. His voice sounded incredibly warm and captivating.
The news of the war caught him in a pioneer camp in Vologda region, where they, the children, were taken for vacation in June 1941.
-The teachers told us that the war had begun. We all were gloomy.
Young Gena helped chop wood for his school canteen, break boats into slivers on the bank of the Vologda River. In 1943, when Gennady was in his service age, he was not taken to the army because of his small height. However, in 1944, having successfully passed his driving license exams, he was called to bolster the efforts at the frontline in the 31st Infantry Division of the 52nd Army.
The whole military route the soldier managed to pass without wounds, “escaping death, watching the fragments and debris flying by.”
Gennady Ivanovich remembers his comrades with a smile on his face.
-There were “The Black Shirts” among them. We fastened this nickname to a troop of Ukrainian miners. They worked in the mines. They got into the army and spent the whole way in their workwear, as there were not enough uniforms for everybody.
The most memorable moment for Gennady Ivanovich was the transition from Poland to Germany.
– We got the order to move forward. Hardly had we unmasked our machines, the Jerries flew over us. 20 of them. And we had only six machine guns. Scary. Jerry flies shooting at us, we shoot at him.
The division continued to move forward. When they reached the city of Gelbitz, where the locals greeted them with joyful “Hurrah”! “Hi!” they spent a few days there. Soon they heard the long-awaited news that Germany surrendered; the war was over. It was the early morning of May 9th.
-Victory! We drove to Prague for a long time, but it’s just ten kilometres away. The roads were filled with people, there were a lot of people. Everyone laughed and smiled. They had flowers, apples in their hands, we were treated with fruits.
The veteran is more and more joyful to tell about those “victorious” moments. It seemed to me Gennady Ivanovich turned into a young lad from that remote year of 1945, proudly experiencing them again. His cheeks were glowing, a smile did not come off his face and filling our souls with the warm spring sunshine.
Gennady Ivanovich received the well-deserved awards after his return from the front.
– There was no time to think about them during wartime, and we were not interested in medals to be honest, we did our duty.
Upon return from the frontline, he worked for many years as a city and intercity bus driver, taking children to pioneer camps. During the 1980 Summer Olympics, his passengers were mostly tourists from Poland.
His total work experience counts 59 years. He has two sons, granddaughters, great-grandchildren.
No one would deny, each participant of the telebridge enjoyed the chat with the veteran and got mesmerized by his radiance of kindness and sincerity.
There were a lot of surprises and congratulations prepared for the veteran. Yassin from Egypt sang the “May Waltz” song being applauded by Gennady Ivanovich and the rest of the audience, students from the Russian school in Bologna (Italy), recited touching lines of the poem “War remains the War”, Nina and her little daughter from Turkey prepared drawings, many heartful words and warm wishes were expressed from various corners of the world.
Gennady Ivanovich apologized many times he would not hear well enough and with his innocent shyness added that “all that attention was beyond expectations”.
Amazing people… A whole generation of heroes, who brought us peace, clear skies and freedom. Amazingly humble…
Our mission is not to forget and keep the truth about the price they had paid for the Victory Day and thanks to them we can now communicate freely and be friends!
In the end of the conference the veteran addressed the young generation:
-I wish everyone to live peacefully, without scandals. I wish all people to live well. To have work and study. To be healthy. It’s the most important thing. Eh… I can’t make speeches…. (smiling). Thank you all.
And finally, he showed everyone his jacket, his medals and orders neatly pinned in a row.
This is how our conversation ended leaving us to digest the message. Precious moments to get transformed, recharged, channel the energy in a positive way and catch the inspiration to move forward savouring the journey.
Special thanks to the telebridge team, namely Yulia Karimova and Ksenia Kulikova, for this unique opportunity to become the part of a like-minded community and the unity of hearts through time and distance.
Glory to the Heroes! Happy Victory Day!
© 2019 Cyprus Russian Association of Paphos