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For Asya Alifanova

Oct. 8, 1897 – Apr. 2, 1979

Angel of Mercy…


But when bullets whistle by,

When waves break

the side of the ship,

I teach them not to fear,

Not to fear

And to do their job.


Nikolai Gumilyov. 1921


   This story has never been published in the Soviet Union. All that I know, has been compiled from the conversations of my elders, and from the shreds of my own memories.


   There once lived in Russia, a heroic woman named Yef-rosiniya Karpovna Alifanova. As an ‘Angel of Mercy’ which was the name referring to the women who volunte-ered as nurses in the armed forces, she saved the lives of thousands of people, of all different nationalities and beliefs – on the fronts of four wars. The injured German captives of World War I called her ‘Asya’, which was the name of the heroine in the popular novel of the time by Ivan Turgenev.


   After the Civil War, Asya studied in the Medical Acade-my and then, served through World War II, the battles of Khalkhin-Gol and the Pacific War as the Captain of Me-dical Service. During times of peace, Asya worked hard for the development of the people’s health resorts in the Gurzuf region of Yalta and Yevpatoriya in Crimea, on the Black Sea, - and everywhere – people called her ‘Asya’. Everyone at home, including her four gransons, called her by the same nema, and to this day, she is called ‘Asya’ by her great grandsons… who are my sons, and by my born in America European Princess Katyusha…


   Asya’s husband – my grandfather, Afanasiy Mikhailovich Alifanov, was cunningly and craftily killed by the Bolsheviks, even though the Civil War had ended. In Crimea at that time, there had been an announcement which stated that… ‘the servicemen of the conquered ‘White Army’, who would reveal themselves voluntarily, would not be harmed’. My grandfather was an officer of the Former Tsat’s Russian ‘White’ Army. It was his… and our terrible misfortune.


   Afanasiy Alifanov, together with other ‘frontovkis’ or ‘veterans’ of the ‘German War’ – World War I, had traveled a long and difficult way from Europe to home and had finally arrived in Crimea, but at the worst possible time. They were fooled. The announcement was ignored, the same method that was used by our tyrannical “rulers” in China, Europe and other parts of Euro-Asia.


   Even though my grandfather was already captured, he thought that his captors would still have honor, and that they would eventually let their prisoners go.


   Asya and her girlfriends organized the escape for some of Afanasiy’s friends, but Grandpa (and this is the only thing that I continue to disagree with him about), considered an escape like this, beneath the dignity of an officer of his rank, and of course he didn’t want to risk Asya’s exposure. Oh, Grandpa, Grandpa! How all of our lives have been, if you had stayed alive! When I would gaze at Asya, and think about this, life was imagined like a big holiday!


   They were shot during the night. All of those who believed they would be freed, and did not escape. A some of the local citizens found their bodies at sunrise, dressed only in the white snow undergarments. In the forest of Crym-Tai near from Simferopol. There, where today, the artificial Crimean Sea – Simferopol Reservoir, overflows.


   Who are responsible for all of this? Russians and Ukrainians? Or Jewish and Tartars? Or Estonians with Latvian ‘Red Riflemen’? The suffering that the nations of the former Russian Empire are experiencing now, is the Atonement and for that crime, too.


   Of course, at that time, it was just someone named ‘Orlovskiy’, or some other name, who was responsible for that violence. Who, on a white horse wearing a stolen cloak, promised the Angels of Mercy that they too, would be “sent to same place” as white officers if they “put themselves in someone else’s business” or “fail to keep their tongues behind their teeth”…  but there probably was also, in the Archives, someone of superior rank.*    


   Asya lived alone with two small children – her son, Viktor, and daughter, Taya – my future mama. She worked two shifts at the hospital, and another shift sewing at night. Until, unfortunately, blood came from her throat because of tuberculosis. “Good people” in her words, are what saved her. Thank God that it happened in Crimea, which is a notoriously beneficial climate for recovery! However, for the remainder of her long “soldier” ‘s life, Asya retained only one lung.


   She continued to suffer from many injustices, such as being under suspicion for being from a family Royalty, to some elite undercover position with in the government, to which she could only repeat, “I’m a soldier” to survive…



* In Russian History, even in private lives, everything is so com-plicated, by some reasons. Exactly as in fictions-moovies! Sended by Asya to Moscow to find Brothers, I unexpectably met there retaired general Orlovsky! However, his grandson was a person very close to mee and one of the my respectable and belived brothers… 



* * *


On a stone in the water –

at the shore’s edge,

stands an Officer.

In a field uniform,

with a tarnished emblem

on the front of his cap,

his arm in a sling.


Two meters of water

separate he from his granson –

with bowed head on bended knee,

a rumpled “budyonovka”

(Civil War Red Army Calvary Cap)

in his hand.


“For the Valiant Warriors

of the Russian Army

and other Innocent Victims

of Civil War”


Confession and Request for Forgiveness

      the most solemn monument of Russia,

which shall have to wait for a long time,

for it’s time to come.




* * *







Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration

By Alex Gabriles.


   For those of us old enough to remember May 8th and 9th, 1945 are dates of great significance, because they market the unconditional surrender of the Fascist Germans to the victorious Allies led by the Soviet Union, United Kingdom and USA.

   Historical facts about the Second World War, or Great Patriotic War as it was known in the Soviet Union, were distorted by East and West during forty years of the Cold War era.

   What is fact is that each of the Big Three Powers (as the three major allied powers were called during the war years) played a major and indispensable role in the war.


   We in the West are well acquainted with the British and American roles in the war, and during the fiftieth anniversary commemoration of the Normandy landings, last year, there were dozens of documentaries shown on Television about D-Day and the liberation of france by the Western Allies.

   It is surprising that many people in North America, especially the younger generations born since 1945, are not aware that the Soviet Union was also a major factor in the defeat of Nazi Germany.


   In fact, from 1941 until 1944 the brunt of the land war with Germany and her allies was being fought on the Soviet fronts extending several thousand miles from the Arctic to the Black Sea and the Volga River. More than six million Germans and Austrians and another one million of their allies (Rumanians, Italians, Hungarians, Croatians, Franco's spanish fascists, and fascist collaborators from all over Nazi occupied Europe) were engaged on the Soviet fronts.

   The German fascists and their allies suffered their first major defeat in Europe at the gates of Moscow within sight of the Kremlin towers in December, 1941.


   Stalingrad’s heroic defense and the fascists crushing defeat in February, 1943 brought new hope to people everywhere, in the inevitable victory of the Hitlerite enemy.

   One of the most decisive and devastating defeats suffered by the Nazis, and from which they would never again recover, was the battle of Kursk salient in July, 1943. After that battle the Germans were unable to mount or sustain any counter-offensive against the advancing Red Army.


   By the end of January 1945 the Red Army had reached the Oder River in Germany, and were within forty five miles of Berlin, at a time when their allied comrade-in-arms were engaging the Nazis along the Rhine River on Germany’s western frontiers.

   During February and March of 1945, the front nearest Berlin remained somewhat static in that the time was utilized to re-group, re-supply and prepare for the final assault on Berlin.


   At 5:00 AM, April 16th, 1945, a three hundred and fifty mile front along the Oder River exploded into action. 2.5 million Red Army troops commanded by Marshals Konev, Rokossovski and Zhukov, supported by forty thousand heavy artillery guns and rocket launchers, over 6,000 tanks and 7,500 combat aircraft launched the biggest offensive of the Second World War.

   After several weeks of bloody and savage fighting within the city itself the German defendants surrendered to the Red Army on May 2nd.


   On the 25th April Amerian and Soviet armies linked at Torgau on the Elbe River, utting Germany in half.

   From April 16th to May 9th the Soviet armies suffered over 300,000 dead, and many hundreds of thousands wounded, more than the total US asualties during the entire Second World War. From 1941 till 1945 over twenty million Soviet citizens perished.


   The final victory over Nazi Germany was accomplished by the combined might of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom and USA, and with the support of the other allied countries, Free French of DeGaulle, Polish, Greeks, Czechs, Tito’s partisan armies in Yugoslavia, and anti-fascist resistence fighters all over Nazi-occupied Europe.


   Everlasting glory to all those valiant fighters!   



Фото 1945.1   One of the few lucky Soviet families

Everyone came back from the war.



* * *










   Ivan Antonovich Efremov (1907-1972) was a giant of a man physically, intellectually, and morally. A doctor of biological sciences, a paleontologist, and a geologist – he both led and directly participated in many expeditions of the USSR Academy of Science in the Far North, the Trans-Cau-cusus, the Urals, and eastern Siberia. Toward the end of his life in 1944, A. N. Tolstoy invited the 37 yeard old Efremov to visit him in his Kremlin hospital bed. A. N. Tolstoy as-ked, «How have you succeeded in working out such an ele-gant and cold style?»

   The 'beginning' author had already published fifty sci-entific works! Moreover, he was accustomed to making pre-cise observations in his journals. But what made Efremov innovative was his ability to write about highly unusual (al-most mystical) events with the strictest scientific logic. As the years passed, he combined this ability with a sweeping panorama of ancient human history, the human present, and a possible human future. In a way, he evolved into a 'csience fiction' writer, but (like Isaac Asimov in the U.S.) he was not swallowed up by science fiction.


   Efremov's «Stories about Unusual» are virtually devoid of Communist ideology (at a time when inclusion of such ideology was very strongly encouraged). A man of his stature in the scientific world could hardly avoid being a member of the CPSU, yet he knew how to keep his stories both acceptable to the authorities and relatively 'untainted' by ideology.


   Much was made (in the USSR and abroad) of the supposedly Communist Utopia in «Andromeda Nebula» (Tumannost' Andromedy), yet Efremov never calls it that hi-mself. He merely points out the leading role of the 'ancient' socialist world in helping to usher in a glorious future of rea-son, justice, and beauty. (Whose utopia in not socialistic?) Also, at one point in the story, future paleontologists dig up some vaults in North America filled with what the 'ancient' Americans considered so precious – gold, machines, and weapons. (It seems like a reasonably valid criticism. We Americans need to rethink our values and priorities.)


   For anyone who actually reads «Andromeda Nebula», «Cosmic Ships», or «Heart of Snake,» it is obvious that Communism vs, Capitalism was just a petty ancient quarrel that was settled along ago in the human past. What is inte-resting to characters in the stories is contact with other races of intelligent beings in the cosmos. Perhaps no concept of Efremov's is more awe-inspiring than The Great Ring. This is the network of civilizations that communicate with each other across vast distances in the Milky Way Galaxy using powerful radio beacons to sent messages that often arrive centuries after they are sent, centuries after the original spea-kers are dead.

   The first such message to Earth was sent by the advanced civilization in 61 Cygni: (decoded, of course)


«Greetings to you, brothers, entering into our family!

Separated by space and by time, we have been united by

reason in a ring of great power.»


   There is something quintessentialy Efremov-like in that message, for he was truly a Man of Reason. He wanted all humans (regardless of nationality, gender, or race) to live in peace and joy. Then he wanted humans to have amicable relations with extraterrestrials, too!


Randolph Porter. Houston, Texas.

«Ruskaya America», August, 1995.

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