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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Kakushka

By Linda Carmi

[Editorial Note: Kakushka is a Russian word meaning “little bird.” Keep it in mind as you read further.

It was early 1940, and at the age of twenty two, with few months of military training behind him, he was already considered an experienced officer in the position of lieutenant in the Russian army. With a division of perhaps one hundred Russian soldiers, they were somewhere in a Finnish forest gazing beyond their location at a forest’s edge. Ahead stretched an expanse of approximately fifty meters of untouched, snow-covered ground before the forest resumed its place in the landscape.

They had to cross the wide expanse ground without camouflage, so several of the soldiers started to cross the clearing. Almost immediately shots rang out as several bodies fell limply in the snow. The other soldiers immediately held back while scanning the trees from the behind, trying to hone in to the spot where the shots came from.

Soon they determined the single tree that held the sniper. Several soldiers took their machine guns and aimed at the bottom of the tree branches and let it go. Bullets ripped the tree as the gun was waved from side to side moving upwards to the top of the tree. Soon, a body tumbled from the tree top, landing in a heap on the ground.

About 25 soldiers from the division rushed to claim their prey. Others remained back, knowing that rage was taking control of their actions, but not willing to participate. Their outrage was thick and heavy and adrenaline was surging in all of them, spilling out with anger and frustration. Several of their men had just been picked off like easy targets! They were young men, not so long in the awful war, but long enough to feel the intense loss and feelings of helplessness to quiet the violence.

The lieutenant stood back with the others and watched as the frenzied soldiers pounced upon their prey. The sniper was wounded and obviously there would be no escape from the situation. The soldiers ripped away the hat and scarf to see the face of the Finnish patriot who had perched in the tree top, intent on killing Russian soldiers.

With the hat and scarf exposing the face of the sniper, they stared down into the face of a young woman staring back at them with defiance - and fear in her eyes. The sniper was a girl, really, not more than seventeen years old.

The crazed soldiers would not be deterred from seeking vengeance for their fallen comrades. That she was a woman seemed to enrage them even more. The other soldiers stood aside, the lieutenant, captain and all others. They knew they could do nothing to calm the hysteria of the preceding moments. The feelings of helplessness, frustration, rage all erupted. It all happened so quickly.

One soldier pulled the pin on a hand grenade and placed it between the legs of the young sniper. They scattered. It was over as suddenly as it had begun.

No one spoke of it. It was referred to as the Kakushka incident as they continued on their march into the forest and beyond. This was merely one more scar in the memories of those who survived the wretched war.

My husband was the lieutenant. He has told me this story and many others...

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Linda - Your husband has an incredible inventory of vivid memories. As I said when I read "Zoya"; extract them, write them down, publish a book, make a movie! - Sandy

A sad commentary on the hysteria that accompanies war. War is, indeed hell.

I'll never forget that story especially since I know 12 Russian soldiers died for every Finnish one. War is insane!

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