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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

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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