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City Teacher, Nurse, Actress Gave War a Female Face

Published: May 6, 2005 (Issue # 1067)



  • Yekaterina Bazarnova in a group of Soviet soldiers on May 8, 1945, as Germany capitulated. The next day she entered Berlin.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

On June 21, 1941, she was 16 and acting in a drama group's performance of the Ukrainian play "Platon Krechet" in Bolshaya Murta in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region. The play was a success. Everybody congratulated her. Life was filled with joy, happiness and laughter. Her friends took her home.

The next morning she woke up with happy feelings - the sun, summer ... but suddenly the good times were all gone - Hitler had attacked the Soviet Union and it would be almost four years until peace returned.

Yekaterina Mikhailovna Bazarnova, who at 80 still works as a history teacher in St. Petersburg, spent most of her teenage years at war. From 1941 to 1945 she was at the front, from the first till the last day, even despite the saying that "war does not have a woman's face."

Bazarnova doesn't tell her story often. She remembers the horror of it all too clearly. And she is by nature humble and becomes very shy when someone asks her about the war. Her colleagues at school No. 327 in St. Petersburg learned her story by accident, after seeing her photographs. There are only three. She has saved them with great care. One was taken on the first day of the war, the second on May 8, 1945, and the last, on the next day, Victory Day.

"I never told them about my war. I kept it to myself. It's painful to remember," she said.

Nor did she mention the many medals she was awarded. Among them are a "Medal for Capturing Koenigsberg," "War Honors, first class, of the Great Patriotic War," "For Victory Over Germany," the "Order of the Great Patriotic War," and the Order of the Red Star.

And when she was asked to describe what she had done during the war, she smiled and said: "What deed? I didn't accomplish any feat. I was just living and doing what I had to."

Before she can be coaxed to start her tale, tears fill her eyes and her voice begins to tremble. She apologizes and starts to speak.

"Our family lived in Tambov in southern Russian. My father died before the war. Mom was left with three children. Of course, it was rather difficult. My oldest brother went to work at a factory. I dreamed of becoming an actress, studied in a drama group, and acted.

Bazarnova had a normal childhood. She was fond of sport, loved skating and participated in city hockey competitions and gymnastics. She was full of life and devoted a lot of time to ballet and drama. And the ardor of this young girl was infectious.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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