As a noncommissioned prisoner. 1943
But we managed to keep Slavyansk and after June 25, and we were comforted by the fact that we at least to some extent managed to disrupt the plans of the enemy.
A month later, the city fell and was in the hands of the enemy, but this happened only because we completed the planned withdrawal of our troops. The military leadership decided that our army should move back to the Dnieper River and regroup there. We started the departure on June 25th.
The retreat was very slow. We began to destroy in the city all objects that are of just a little importance. We blew all the railways leading to the city. We blew up every railway bridge and destroyed the river crossings. In addition, the entire population was taken away from the city - all people and all cattle.
Finally, the whole city was set on fire.It was a terrible sight. When we were leaving the city, we heard the cries of its inhabitants and saw the charred remains of animals. We did this in every city, in every village on our way.
At nightfall, it was possible to see burning villages for many kilometers, which we left behind after our march through Eastern Ukraine. It was an eerie sight, and it did not give me pleasure at all.
The methodical withdrawal of the German army lasted for many months. On our way, wheat fields burned, cattle burned. September 27, we crossed the Dnieper and entered the city of Dnepropetrovsk. It became clear to all of us that our winter stay on the Dnieper would not take place, that we would have to spend the winter somewhere closer to the Oder River in Silesia.
We held our positions from September 27 to October 12. October 12 is the time to "continue dancing." We left Dnepropetrovsk and made our way between Krivoy Rog and Nikopol on the way to Odessa. We passed about 130 kilometers from Dnepropetrovsk and stopped to assess the situation.
At the forefront, everything was very calm, as happens in the calm before the storm. Since my intended personal observation post was busy, I continued to observe by patrol, going in the direction of the German positions.
At one of the sites, the fog suddenly disappeared, revealing to me a view that made me freeze in place. I saw the silhouettes of two people standing only about 30 meters away from me. I immediately realized that these were not our soldiers, that I was very close to the enemies.
After a minute or two of shooting, I noticed that blood was flowing down my right arm. I was injured, but not hard. I lay for a few minutes, sprawled on the ground, under some bushes, but my position was very vulnerable. If I stay here, I will soon become a dead man.
I was prepared to make a throw from my cover. On the left I heard the steps of our patrol. The attention of the patrol was attracted by the shooting, and I was relieved to think that help was on the way. I could not get out, because as soon as I raised my head, bullets whistled at my ears. For a while, it would be better for me to lie still and wait for the enemy to leave.
The fog began to rise again. I looked at my watch. They were 3 in the morning. About 20 meters away from me, I could see distinct clouds of black smoke. It seemed that the Russians had pressed not only me alone to the ground. I decided that that place would give me the best protection - there I could find my bearings and determine where I was.
I jumped out of my hiding place and ran with all my might.The Russians shot at me, I felt a few bullets whizzing past, but continued to run. When I got close enough to the new shelter, I immediately dived headfirst there. With relief, I realized that they did not hit me, and for a while I felt safe.
I sat down and looked around. It was dark, but I saw six pairs of eyes staring at me at once. I saw the mortar. One of the soldiers asked me in Russian: "Hey, are you all right?" My heart went to my heels. I knew that everything was completely wrong with me. What have I done!
I was wearing a black sheepskin coat, which I had procured many months ago, and a large Russian winter hat. The six soldiers in the shelter felt that I was also a Russian soldier. Probably, I looked like them. I nodded slightly to the soldiers, but said nothing. I tried my best to hide my fear.
I had to get out of there, and as soon as possible. I began to clamber back out of cover. One of the soldiers inside drew attention to my boots, recognizing in them a part of a uniform of a German soldier. He grabbed my leg and pulled me back into the shelter with a shout: "It's a damn Fritz!"
Soon I felt like I was grabbed several hands at once and pressed to the ground. The soldiers surrounded me, took away the weapon and forced me to raise my arms. One of them pulled off my coat, made me turn around and searched all my pockets.
They took my wallet with all its contents, and then threw off all the awards: the Iron Cross, the badge of distinction for taking part in the attack, the Romanian medal and the silver badge for the battle wound.
The Russians studied them carefully, their faces glowing with pride in capturing the prisoner. Enough admiring their trophies, they dragged me out of hiding and led me to the commander of their company, who was only about a hundred meters away.
Upon arrival at the Russian camp, my guard was assigned to me by three sentries. The soldiers searched my pockets again, found a lighter, a mirror and a comb. The commander came and silently took the comb.
Then he took my soldier’s book, which is given to each soldier and contains a detailed description of his career, data on the type of troops and other valuable information. He flipped through it, but could not bear anything from its content. He looked at me with an attentive studying look.It seemed that my appearance was puzzling him. "- from the memories of the non-commissioned officer of the 5th company of the 2nd battalion of the 525th infantry regiment of the 298th infantry division of Oscar Sekeyi.