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'The War Stole Our Youth': WWII Heroes Share Their Experiences

They were poorly equipped, most of them young with no training, but they managed to survive and win through sheer willpower

MORE: History

Note: With the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War just around the corner we are publishing more material related to that epic conflict that is so important to Russian collective memory.

To mark 70 years since the end of the Second World War, RT recently launched a wonderful project titled ‘War Witness: Heritage’. The project consists of 70 episodes that run for about four minutes each, and feature Great Patriotic War veterans who share their tragic and inspiring accounts of the most deadly conflict in our history.

<figcaption>Heroes who must not be forgotten</figcaption>
Heroes who must not be forgotten

I always wanted to meet a veteran of the Second World War just to hear the story from first hand. As a student of history and politics, I imagined that this would be an ‘interesting story’ like so many others I read through study. As the heroes are largely forgotten by the majority of people, I finally got this opportunity only last year by accident through my work.

But this was not just an ordinary story like I imagined it would be. It was an experience like no other. Here I was, talking to a man who lost everything he held dear, his family, his youth, his future, just so the future generations like me could be spared loss, death, destruction, sacrifice, and all the harrowing things that war brings out.

They were poorly equipped, most of them young with no training, but they managed to survive and win through sheer willpower.

"The war stole our youth. That's not listed among the losses of the war. Maybe that's why we have difficulties now, understanding our children. We didn't know the sweet excitement, or the tenderness of a first love. Instead, we had wounds, and bandages soaked in blood."
- Stepan Karnaukhov

In a world of abundance, most of us have forgotten the sacrifices of these heroes, and some are once again rushing headlong into the abyss. It is heart-warming to see the veteran’s grand- and great-grandchildren, albeit young, but knowledgeable and truly understanding and appreciative of the sacrifices of their forefathers.

RT did a wonderful job of giving these heroes a few minutes to tell us their stories.

I cannot recommend the series highly enough.

You can watch the whole series on YouTube or at RT.

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MORE: History

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