“In the Bydgoszcz area, there was a smell of Stalingrad”: What Izvestia wrote years ago, in the days of WWII

Yaroslava Kostenko

Izvstia.Ru | May 09, 2022

February 1945 in the USSR breathed the promise of a victorious spring: the yellowed newspaper pages are full of reports about the successful battles of the Red Army, and the country itself is preparing to celebrate its 27th anniversary. Soviet troops knocked out the enemy from the territories the enemy occupied, but there is no war without losses – the death of the commander of the 3rd Belorussian Front, General Ivan Chernyakhovsky, falls like a mourning ribbon on the almost melted snow. The union says goodbye to the hero.

“In every hut there is a radio”

The second half of February 1945 on the pages of Izvestia began with the anniversary – the 17th marked the 10th anniversary of the Stalinist charter of collective farm life. According to this way, employees of the agricultural industry throughout the Union lived and grew crops. Izvestia journalists of those years are sure that the system of collective farms is an extremely successful solution and its workers will certainly grow the “harvest of Victory”. A good half of the issue is devoted to the topic, and on the second page there is a note “Conversation in Koltsovka”. In it, elderly collective farmers recall how poor they lived a decade ago, and boast that now “every hut has a radio.”

The Soviet Information Bureau reports that “on February 15, 117 German tanks were hit and destroyed on all fronts. In air battles and anti-aircraft artillery fire, 39 enemy aircraft were shot down. The Red Army continues its triumphant offensive, successfully winning battles in Poznan, Breslau and in the Budapest area.

“The Burghers Abandoned Their Goods”

On February 18, Izvestia‘s special war correspondent, Major Viktor Poltoratsky, reports from Silesia. The atmosphere of a small German town chosen for an overnight stay “makes a gloomy impression” on the journalist. He scrupulously describes the environment of the house in which he found himself, not forgetting to even mention empty matchboxes and folded rags. “The prudent German tried to adapt everything to the place, to benefit from everything,” he writes and comes to the conclusion that “the burghers abandoned their property” only because they had to flee too quickly – the Soviet army was lightning fast.

The issue also notes that the day before, Soviet troops fought off attacks in Pomerania and on the northern bank of the Danube, occupied 50 settlements in Silesia. “Everyone was in a depressed mood. Squadron commander Captain von Schullenburg, not in the least embarrassed by the presence of school cadets and soldiers, said: “In the Bydgoszcz region, there was a smell of Stalingrad, we must get out of here as soon as possible, as the Russians are coming to our rear,” the information bureau quotes the words of the captured commander of the airfield company, Ober-Lieutenant Willy Kaepernitz on the battle near Bromberg.

In the last page, the Tour brothers offer the reader a crime story about fraud in a weaving factory under the guise of a humorous fairy tale. “It must be admitted that the Brothers Grimm, together with Andersen, would never have come up with such a harmonious development of the plot,” they note, ending on a cruel note, they say, every scoundrel should be punished.

“Favorite brainchild of the Soviet people”

On the front page of the issue dated February 20, 1945, a portrait of the commander of the 3rd Belorussian Front, General Ivan Chernyakhovsky, blackens in a mourning frame. He died “after being seriously wounded on the battlefield in East Prussia”. Izvestia recalls his exploits and expresses confidence that his victorious march will continue and end with the complete defeat of the enemy forces. “Tov. Chernyakhovsky earned the deep respect of the Soviet people and the entire Red Army,” the text says.

But life in the Union continued, in a few days the “beloved brainchild of the Soviet people” – the Red Army – was supposed to turn 27 years old. The country was actively preparing for the holiday.

On February 18, 117 German tanks were hit and destroyed on all fronts. 84 enemy planes were shot down in air battles and anti-aircraft artillery fire, the information bureau reports. Fighting is going on south of Koenigsberg, on the northern bank of the Danube, the city of Neuenburg, a communication center and a strong stronghold of the German defense on the western bank of the Vistula, is occupied by storm. The Baltic Fleet sank three enemy ships and a minesweeper.

Two funerals and one holiday

On February 21, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, from the pages of Izvestia, calls on the Union for the holiday of the Red Army. The second page tells about the funeral of General Chernyakhovsky, and the third one tells about the victims of a plane crash in the city of Mexico, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the USSR to the United States of Mexico Comrade. K.A. Umansky, his colleagues and wife. “Death tore out of our ranks a group of Soviet people who defended the interests of our country in the Western Hemisphere,” the farewell note says.

The Information Bureau reports that on the Samland Peninsula, on the morning of February 19, the enemy tried to break through from Koenigsberg to the west. Soviet forces crossed the Stradik River, occupied the small town of Munotherwalds and the Shlyakh railway junction. The offensive on the Oder continues.

SOURCE: https://iz.ru/977690/iaroslava-kostenko/v-rai-one-bydgoshch-zapakhlo-stalingradom


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