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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

Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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