Fighting for the Soviet Motherland: Recollections from the Eastern Front Hero of the Soviet Union

Fighting for the Soviet Motherland: Recollections from the Eastern Front Hero of the Soviet Union

Fighting for the Soviet Motherland: Recollections from the Eastern Front Hero of the Soviet Union

Fighting for the Soviet Motherland: Recollections from the Eastern Front Hero of the Soviet Union

Synopsis

The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened the history of the Red Army to the West, providing a more complex picture of World War II than was previously available. Details of the struggle between the Soviet forces and the Axis powers can now be seen through the efforts of veterans such as Colonel Dmitriy Loza. Loza draws on his own experiences and those of acquaintances to illustrate particular problems, combat situations, and the functioning of the Soviet army in its struggle with the German and Japanese armies.

Dmitriy Loza is a Hero of the Soviet Union, the USSR's highest designation for bravery, and he was decorated for his role in the capture of Vienna. He served in a brigade that fought in the Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Manchuria. He now resides in Moscow.

Excerpt

To undertake to translate the wartime experiences of World War II Red Army veterans for an American audience is a daunting task. One must overcome not only the language and cultural obstacles but also the psychological barrier of more than fifty years of all things Soviet being regarded as communist and therefore as inherently evil.

This is a task I welcome, however, because I have a duty to history. The picture of the war on the Eastern Front that emerges from this account is foreign to most American readers. It contains strange images, unfamiliar places, indecipherable names, and a view of the Red Army wholly contrary to the one that most American readers have previously encountered. This sense of estrangement is to be expected, given the fact that Americans have viewed the war on this distant front primarily through the prism of German accounts.

When in the course of my own military service I had the opportunity to study the performance of the Soviet Armed Forces in World War II in greater detail, I realized that their contribution to the defeat of Germany and, to a lesser degree, of Japan was far greater than has ever been acknowledged in our history books. Having gained proficiency in the Russian language, I was able to read writings by and about the great battle captains of the Red Army and Red Navy. The more I studied, the greater became my desire to understand the Eastern Front war at the personal level. Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and with it the opening of a new window on the history of World War II.

The light coming through this newly opened window consists of the memoirs of Dmitriy Loza and other Soviet Army veterans like him, who fought in and survived World War II and the Cold War. Colonel Loza was born in 1922 in a Ukrainian village, entered the Red Army in 1940, and graduated from Saratov Tank School in 1942. The unit to which he was first assigned was equipped with British Matilda tanks, seven hundred fifty of which . . .

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