2007/11/06

November 6 in Russian history

1941

The German fascists executed 16 years old Alexander (Sasha) Chekalin. He was born on March 25 1925 in village Peskovatskoye and lived in small town Likhvin, between Tula and Kaluga. In July 1941 he joined the local paramilitary group where he was taught to act as a scout and saboteur. When the town was occupied, Sasha together with his father became a fighter of the partisan detachment "Peredovoy". He knew the nearby forests well and was one of the best scouts. On November 2, he fell ill and came to his village, Peskovatskoye. Someone betrayed him and on the night 12 German soldiers came to arrest him. Sasha threw a grenade hoping to kill them and himself, but the grenade did not explode. He was taken to Likhvin and interrogated. In spite of the tortures, he refused to disclose the data on the location of the partisans or their names and was hanged on the central square of the city in the morning of November 26. The Soviet books usually said that he proudly sang "The Internationale" on the scaffold, but the witnesses say that he cried quietly. He was just a boy, after all…

In 1942, Likhvin was liberated by the Soviet Army and it was found during the investigation that Alexander Chekalin was betrayed by Nikifor Avdyukhin and Alexey Osipov. Avdyukhin was the village headman in Peskovatskoye. The headmen were usually appointed by the Germans in a more or less random way, but in Peskovatskoye Avdyukhin volunteered and eagerly collaborated with the Nazis. On April 3 1942 Avdyukhin and Osipov were executed by shooting.

In 1944 town Likhvin was renamed to Chekalin. There is a monument and a museum of Sasha in the town. Each year, on November 6, his father used to come to his grave. In 1987, 20 years ago, he died.

Town Chekalin (former Likhvin) was mentioned in the chronicles since 1565. In 1939, there were 2,400 people living in Likhvin, but since then the population always decreased and now there are only about 1,100 people. One of them works in a bank, one in the local library. Four people work in the hospital and help the people in 38 villages around Chekalin. There are five teachers in the town school. And the mayor Irina Usenkova, who works in a small wooden house — the town administration. There's one caffee and one bakery, three food stores and militia. Most of the remaining people either work in the neighbouring city Suvorov or do not work at all. Actually, the town should have been demoted to a village, but it's not. Probably, out of respect to Sasha Chekalin?

3 comments:

Saif said...

Very moving story!

Jason said...

What a story. It's stupefying how many others -- and how many forgotten -- are much the same in those years.

Dmitri Minaev said...

Yes, indeed, many were forgotten. In the USSR, many children who fought during the war were widely known. Movies were made about them, books were written. Schoolchildren studied their biographies and wrote essays. Unfortunately, in the atmosphere of the total lie these memories were often disregarded as yet another Soviet myth. And these were myths, in part. Like that part about "The Internationale" in this story.

I'd like to take these stories apart, to throw away the chaff and to extract the wheat, which is still precious. Unfortunately, not too much information about these children is available now. I mean, real, trustworthy information...