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Oleg, followed by all the other Young Guard, takes this oath:
I, Oleg Koshevoi, on joining the Young Guard, take this solemn oath before my comrades-in-arms, before my long-suffering land, before the whole of my people: I swear that I shall unquestioningly carry out all the tasks entrusted to me by the Organization; hold in deepest secrecy all that concerns my work in the Young Guard. I swear to avenge without mercy the burning and ravaging of our towns and villages, the shedding of the blood of our people, the death of our heroes martyred in the mines. And should my life be needed for this vengeance, I shall lay down my life without a moment's hesitation. If under torture or in cowardice I violate this sacred pledge, then may my name and kinsfolk be cursed for all time and may stern punishment be inflicted upon me by my comrades. Blood for Blood, Death for Death!
Lyuba receives word that she much go to Voroshilovgrad to meet with her contacts. She gets dressed up nicely and hitches a ride with a German colonel. She tells him that she is the daughter of a well-known industrialist who had been exiled to Siberia by the Bolsheviks. The colonel treats her to a tasty picnic.
When they get to Voroshilovgrad, Lyuba picks a random apartment building and asks to be let off there. As a flirtatious Nazi lieutenant escorts her inside, Lyuba knocks at a random door and barges into the apartment occupied by a woman and her 14-year-old daughter, Tamara. When the lieutenant leaves, Lyuba tells them that she is an actress who has been assigned to lodge with them temporarily. The woman and girl assume Lybua is a filthy collaborator.
Protsenko sneaks into Voroshilovgrad to reestablish his underground contacts there. He comes to stay with Masha Shubina, a friend of his wife, Katya. She is depressed with her seemingly purposeless existence and readily agrees to help Protsenko. She is renting a room from an unsociable man who, by coincidence, turns out to be a member of the underground who recognizes Protsenko.
Protsenko's contacts bring Lyuba to him. She reports on the Young Guards in her town, and Protsenko is pleased and impressed. He asks her tell him a little about each of the 30 members. When Lyuba names Evgeny Stakhovich, Protsenko is surprised. (Stakhovich was a member of Protsenko's partisan detachment who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances.) Protsenko advises Lyuba be careful about Stakhovich and do some checking up on him before trusting him fully.
Lyuba's contact in Voroshilovgrad approves of the way she got to town, fraternizing with a German quartermaster colonel. In fact, he advises her to establish new contacts among enemy officers--German, Romanian, Italian, and Hungarian. Lyuba is given a radio transmitter to take with her back to Krasnodon.
On the trip back, Lyuba hitches a ride with some German medical officers, who are transporting a truck load of alcohol. Lyuba decides that it would be a good idea to get ahold of some of this alcohol, so when they get to Krasnodon, she invites them into her house for a drunken party. Lyuba manages to steal four containers of alcohol.
Meanwhile, that night, Oleg and some other Young Guards are creeping around the town, posting up leaflets. They're supposed to be working in teams of two, but Oleg decided to do his work by himself. A policeman spots him, but Oleg manages to elude him. Afterwards, Turkenich chastises Oleg for his childish behavior. Henceforth, Turkenich declares, Oleg will no longer take part in special operations.
In the morning, people crowd around the posted leaflets to read them. The Young Guard circulate in the marketplace and secretly slip more leaflets into people's handbags, etc.
Natalya Alekseevna, the surgeon at the municipal hospital, sees Sergei. She passes word to him that a whole gang of chaps at the Krasnodon mining settlement have undertaken underground work of their own.
Later, the first ground of healthy workers to be shipped to Germany are herded together and marched off. Stripped of their names, they are given merely identifying numbers. Valentina Filatova is in the group. She and Ulya bid each other a tearful farewell.
The leaders of the Young Guard meet to hear Lyuba's report. She passes on Protsenko's cautions about Stakhovich and his urging that they check up on how he came to be separated from the partisan detachment. Stakhovich is insulted that his integrity is challenged. He says he was merely separated from the partisans in the confusion of battle. But a clear examination of the facts shows that Stakhovich deserted during battle. It is decided that Stakhovich will be excluded from the headquarters, but he will retain command of his group of five and be given assignments and the opportunity to redeem himself.
The Young Guard also decide that Ignat Fomin must be killed and hung publicly as a lesson to all. They will, of course, consult with the older comrades before actually undertaking this mission.
Soviet Writers Keeping
The World Informed in War
After the meeting, they take Uncle Nikolai's radio out of hiding and listen to the Moscow news reports from the Soviet Information Bureau (SovInformBuro).
When the Nazis were digging their trenches and emplacements for anti-aircraft guns in the park, they unearthed the type that had been buried there. At first they hadn't noticed it and scattered it all about with the dug-up earth. So, after much night-time scrounging, the Young Guards managed to find a complete set of type. So now they could print up their leaflets and reports from the SovInformBuro which they listened to on Uncle Nikolai's radio.
After consulting with the older comrades, the Young Guard waylay the traitor Ignat Fomin as he is walking his policeman's rounds late one night. They bind and gag him and hang him from the arch in the park entranceway. They pin a note to his jacket explaining the reason for the grizzly execution.
Valya Borts makes her way to the mining settlement to make contact with the underground organization there. She meets its leader, Kolya Sumskoi, and returns to Krasnodon with him.
She was unaware of the planned execution of Fomkin, and when she hears of it she is worried, fearing that Sergei might have been involved in it and gotten caught or injured. She is happily relieved, however, when her sister, Lusia, hands her a note Sergei left for her after his part in the murder mission.
Vanya gets into a big argument with his father, who is opposed to his underground work, saying that it puts Vanya and the whole family at risk. Vanya insists that he will continue to do what his conscience dictates.
Oleg and Sumskoi discuss possible operations. Then Sumskoi takes the Young Guard oath.
Vanya Zemnukhov wants to go to the village of Nizhny Aleksandrovsky to visit his girlfriend, Klava. This proves advantageous for Lyutikov, who needs someone to serve as a courier between the village and Krasnodon.
The Battle of Stalingrad
In Nizhny Aleksandrovsky, Protsenko's wife, Katya, has gotten herself appointed as the new schoolteacher. She is staying with Marfa Kornienko, an old woman who earlier helped the Protsenkos hide out from the Nazis. Marfa gets word that her husband, Gordei, a Red Army soldier, has been taken prisoner and is being held at the Pogorely Forestry Station not far away. She plans to go there, even though there is little chance she'll be able to see Gordei. Katya wishes she could help, but all partisan forces are engaged in wrecking operations directed against the German lines of communication. This is all in aid of the Battle of Stalingrad, raging hundreds of miles away.
Klava is bored and looking for something to read. She decides to go ask the newly appointed schoolteacher for some books. And so she meets Katya (unaware, or course, that Katya is in the underground)
Vanya arrives in the village and meets with Katya. She passes on to him instructions that the Young Guard are to intensify wrecking operations on all roads. The Young Guard should also make contact with the recuperating soldiers which Sergei and Natalya Alekseevna managed to remove from the hospital and conceal in private homes. The youngsters will need experienced fighters. Vanya and Katya also get the idea that they might do something to free the prisoners at Pogorely.
Vanya recruits Klava into the Young Guard and tells her to organize the young people on the nearby farmsteads.
The Pervomaisky Young Guard undertake to liberate the prisoners in Pogorely. In the dead of the night, Anatoly slits the throat of the sentry. They then cut through the barbed wire and break the lock of the barracks, freeing the prisoners, including Zhenya Moshkov, an older lad from town you had been a junior lieutenant in the infantry.
Meanwhile, Sergei is busy setting fire to stacks of corn.
Between the work of the Young Guard and the regular Party underground, wrecking operations flourish. Bridges on the highways and rail lines leading to Stalingrad are destroyed.
The Young Guard had three operational groups in action. One of them concentrated on attacks on officers' cars. Viktor Petrov was leader of this group.
The second group, led by the recently rescued Red Army lieutenant Zhenya Moshkov, dealt with the petrol tankers--killing the drivers and running the petrol off into the ground.
Sergei led the third group. It held up German trucks carrying arms, food and clothing, and hunted for straying and straggling soldiers.
One day, Valya Borts and Sergei go to the movie theatre to distribute leaflets. After the movie ends, Sergei manages to steal the Nazi flag which is handing next to the screen.
On 6 November, the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, members of the Young Guard meet in Oleg's house. They pull out Uncle Nikolai's radio and listen to Stalin's speech, writing down his every word:
from Stalin's Speech on the 25th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution:
Comrades! We are today celebrating the 25th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Revolution in our country. Twenty-five years have elapsed since the Soviet system was established in our country. We are now on the threshold of the next, the 26th, year of the Soviet state....
...The cannibal Hitler says, 'We shall destroy Russia so that she will never be able to rise again.' That appears to be clear, although rather stupid.
...We have no such aim as to destroy Germany, for it is impossible to destroy Germany, just as it is impossible to destroy Russia. But the Nazi state can and should be destroyed, and our first task, in fact, is to destroy the Nazi state and its founders.
The Nazi scoundrels...outrage and slaughter the civilian population of the occupied territories of our country: men and women, children and old folk, our brothers and sisters... Only villains and scoundrels, devoid of all honor and fallen to the level of beasts, can permit themselves to commit such enormities against innocent, unarmed people... We know who are the men guilty of these outrages, the builders of the 'New Order in Europe', all those newly baked governor-generals or just ordinary governors, commandants and sub-commandants. Their names are known to tens of thousands of tormented people. Let these butchers know that they will not escape responsibility for their crimes or elude the avenging hand of the tormented nations..."
Glory to our men and women partisans!
That night, members of the Young Guard sneak around town, putting red flags on the tops of buildings, including the school, the hospital, and even the Nazi headquarters.
After planting the flags, the Young Guards gather for a party. They dance the Hopak and other folk dances.
In the morning, the populace gather joyously to gaze on the flying red flags. The Nazis don't dare take down the flags, because there is a note attached to each of them saying, "Mined". It is not until two o'clock PM that sappers arrive. It turns out that only one of the flags had a real mine on it.
The town's commendant, Bruckner, is ordered to arrest those responsible for the flags or else he will be demoted. He rounds up a bunch of innocent people, but not a single Young Guard.
A contingent of German soldiers leading a herd of cows to the rear passes through the area. The Young Guard ambush them, kill the German guards, and disperse the cows.
Letters arrive at the post office from the townspeople who have been sent to work in Germany. They are never delivered, however. A German censor reads them all, then locks them away in a drawer until there is a large pile of them, then he burns all the letters.
One night in December, the Young Guards manage to steal the letters from the drawer and hand them over to Ulya, who is in charge of helping people escape the German recruitment and deportation. She reads over the letters and learns of the harsh conditions endured by her countrymen in German. To Ulya's great personal dismay, there is no letter from Valentina.
No one is voluntarily signing up at the Nazi labor exchange anymore, so the Nazis were now seizing them in the streets and in their homes, much as Negroes were hunted down in the jungle in days of slavery. The Nazis keep a secret register with the names of 1,500 people who have been selected to be seized and shipped off to Germany. Ulya suggests that they must destroy the list, and to do that, they must burn down the entire labor exchange building.
Late one night, Sergei and Lyuba creep up to the labor exchange. Lyuba sneaks inside and douses the building with petrol. After Lyuba departs, Sergei tosses in an incendiary bottle, and the building becomes a blazing inferno As Sergei flees, a German guards shoots at him, but misses.
On 12 November 1942, word comes of Soviet successes at Stalingrad. On the Central Front, Soviet troops reach the eastern bank of the Don.
In the workshops, Barakov's job for the underground was to bustle about, trying to carry out the Nazis' orders, while Lyutikov engaged in subtle but constant acts of sabotage. While repairing the water pumping station, Lyutikov intentionally leaves the pipes full of water overnight. The pipes, of course, freeze and burst. Most of the workers come to realize what Lyutikov is up to, but they all still think Barakov is a willing dupe of the Nazis.
Barakov and Lyutikov begin to work on plans for a general uprising if Soviet troops get close. As part of this plan, they must set up a second center of leadership, outside of the workshops, just in case something happens to them. They decide they must call a meeting of the district Party committee.
Lyutikov tells Volodya to have Oleg meet him that night at the "same place".
At Lyutikov's urging, Oleg forms a youth group, including many who are not in the Young Guard, and petitions the Germans for permission to open a youth club. Lyutikov figures it will be easier and safer for members of the youth underground to meet during soirees, instead of having to run around to each other's houses.
The Germans approve the club, and the first amateur variety show occurs on 19 December 1942. During the show (which is attended by Nazis and Romanians in addition to the local Soviet citizens), Oleg and Nina listen to and copy down a communique about a Soviet offensive in the Middle Don sector. As they make copies for distribution, they hear Soviet bombers--unharrassed by German fighters--flying overhead on their way to drop bombs near Voroshilovgrad.
Stalingrad was a remarkable demostration of brilliant generalship by army leaders trained under the new, Soviet system....Stalingrad was the finest testimony to the organizing talent of people reared under the new, Soviet system....Stalingrad was the supreme indicator of the superiority of the new society's economy, with its unified plan, over the old society with its anarchy....Stalingrad was the expression of the spiritual power and the historical intellect of a people freed from the chains of capital.
While the battle in Stalingrad nears its climax, Soviet troops advance into Ukraine. Ivan Protsenko and his partisans are ordered to keep attacking the German lines of supply and communication. Protsenko sends his wife, Katya, on a mission to deliver a map and information about German defenses around Voroshilovgrad to an advancing Soviet tank column.
in the Skies
Katya sets off across the countryside. According to arrangements which have been made, she spends the night in a village hut with a peasant woman named Galya. In the morning, Soviet Ilyushin planes begin bombing the German fortifications outside the village. The bombing continues all day long, as do dogfights between Soviet planes and Nazi Messerschmitts.
At nightfall, Galya's ten-year-old son, Sashko acts as Katya's guide, leading her eastward between German fortifications. Fresh shell holes indicate that Soviet troops cannot be far away. At the appointed place, Sashko gives Katya directions on how to continue her journey, then he returns home.
Katya trudges through the snow. As she comes over a rise, she is shocked but overjoyed to find herself staring down the barrel of a Soviet tank.
Katya is taken to the command post of the advancing Soviet tank corp. The general and his staff review the map and information prepared by Protsenko. After a short rest, they send Katya back into German territory. They want her to get more information about the situation in Voroshilovgrad.
On her way back, Katya learns that Masha Shubina, who had been working as a liaison and messenger for Protsenko, had been captured, tortured, and killed by the Nazis. But to the end, Masha maintained that she knew nothing about the underground, and she betrayed no one.
The German allies--Italians, Hungarians, and Romanians--begin withdrawing. A Romanian officer and his batman, on their way home, make a quick stop at the Koshevoi house. They try to steal the sheets off the beds. Oleg's grandmother, however, gets outraged and manages to wrest one of the sheets back from the batman.
On 30 December, Sergei, Valya, and some other Young Guard steal some sacks of New Year's gifts from a German truck. The packages are mainly filled with cigarettes. Zhenya Moshkov sends some young boys out into the market to sell the cigarettes. The Germans, however, irked by this theft, are on the lookout and they pick up one of the boys. They beat him, trying to get him to reveal where he got the cigarettes, but the boy keeps quiet. However, when he is led into a blood-soaked room filled with hideous instruments of torture--ramrods, lashes, axes, an iron in the fire--he loses his nerve and reveals that he got the cigarettes from Moshkov, Vanya Zemnukhov, and Stakhovich.
Two girlfriends who hadn't seen each other in a while--Vyrikova and Lyadskaya--meet by chance in the market place. They are basically selfish girls, concerned only with procuring easy, profitable work for themselves. They don't particularly like the Germans, but are trying to get what they can from them. Later, Lyadskaya goes to the labor exchange searching for easier work. It doesn't work out for her, and she sends a note to Vyrikova, calling the Germans "boneheads". On New Year's Eve, the Germans do house searches and find this note. Vyrikova eagerly tattles on Lyadskaya, adding fancifully embroidered information about Lyadskaya's "anti-German" sentiment.
Moshkov, Vanya, and Stakhovich are arrested. The club is searched, and the stolen New Year's gifts are found hidden there. The news send shock waves through the ranks of the Young Guard.
Lyutikov gets word to Oleg that the Young Guard must immediately disperse. A few Young Guard are to be left in town (Anatoly Popov, Sumskoi, and Ulya), but the rest are either to go into hiding or try to get to the Soviet Army. Oleg, Sergei, Nina, Olya, and Valya decide to try to break through to the Soviet lines together.
At dawn, the Nazis swoop down, making mass arrests. They pick up the family members of the Young Guard as well as plenty of people totally unconnected to the Young Guard.
Vanya and Moshkov are stripped naked and tortured, but they reveal nothing. Stakhovich, however, easily crumbles, and he betrays the entire Young Guard organization. For some reason, Ulya is the only one he doesn't name.
Meanwhile, Vyrikova and Lyadskaya are dragged into police headquarters. They heatedly begin denouncing one another, accusing each other of pro-Soviet sentiments. The Nazis accuse them of being members of the underground. To prove their hatred of the Soviets, the two girls name everyone they know who was socially active and had a conscience. In this way, they managed to give a fairly comprehensive list of Young Guard members.
Stakhovich doesn't know anything about Oleg's adult contacts in the official Party underground. But he does remember that Aunt Polina was a frequent visitor to Oleg's, and spills this information to the Germans. It doesn't take the Nazis long to connect her to Lyutikov and Barakov, who are rounded up. However, evidence was of no importance to the enemy and they arrest dozens of innocent people as well.
CHAPTER 24 & 25
Ulya, Anatoly, Lyubov, and most of the other Young Guards are caught up in the dragnet. But two weeks of torture fail to get any member of the Young Guard to reveal anything. Their courage and determination distinguish them from the general population, so the Nazis are able to figure out who's Young Guard and who's not. To make their evil work easier, the Nazis release the innocent civilians.
The tortures continue, but so does the defiance of the Young Guard. One day, they all burst into revolutionary song. Lyubov is the ringleader of this, so they Nazis drag her out of the cell. She bites the hand of the Nazi commendant, and, as a result, she is subjected to even more torture. Just then, the sound of Soviet planes are heard, bombing the town.
Oleg's group trudges for days toward the front lines but they are unable to get through. Finally, at Olya's urging, they decide to split up. Olya and Nina go to Fokino village to stay with a friend. Oleg will try to get through to the Soviet lines by himself.
Sergei and Valya move parallel to the front, searching for a way through, but they can't find any. Knowing that Sergei would have an easier time on his own, Valya appeals to his Party sentiment, saying that if he can break through to the Red Army, he can help stop the torture of the imprisoned Young Guards sooner. So they split up, too.
Days later, on the night of January 11, Oleg, weak, frostbitten, and hungry, shows up back home. He was unable to get through the lines. Because of the danger of remaining, the family decides that Oleg must immediately go to some relatives in a nearby village. Uncle Nikolai accompanies him. As they near the village, however, some German soldiers spot them. In his weakened state, Oleg is not able to evade the Nazis. Uncle Nikolai, however, manages to escape.
Oleg is taken to Gestapo headquarters in Rovenki to be questioned. Of course, he refuses to give any information. He is tortured but not killed on orders of Major-General Klehr, who wants to come and question Oleg personally.
Sergei makes it across the frontier to a division of Soviet troops. He passes what information he has onto the divisional commander, along with his request that they press on to Krasnodon as soon as possible to rescue the Young Guard.
The Army Commander-in-Chief, affectionately known by the soldiers as "Kolobok", comes to meet with the divisional commander, and they work out a plan for an assault on Kamensk.
Sergei, supplied with a tommy gun and hand grenades, is assigned to the regiment of Major Kononenko. Sergei is placed in the assault group that is to be the first to break through the crossroads near Kamensk. As luck would have it, the sergeant in this assault group is Kayutkin.
At dawn, the troops are given a little bit of food, a little bit of vodka, and sent into battle. Sergei's group crosses the ice of the river and engages the enemy. Because of his inexperience, Sergei, wounded in the arm, gets ahead of his group and winds up alone in the middle of a German-occupied farmstead.
Sergei crawls to a farmhouse and knocks on the window. The peasant family inside, bandage his wound and give him some food. Sergei then manages to slip away and return to Krasnodon.
Exhausted, Sergei takes refuge at his family home. They pack clothes and food for him, but before he goes he needs to sleep. That night, the Nazis show up and seize Sergei. Screaming and wailing, Sergei's mother pounds on the Nazis, so they arrest her, too, and drag her off as well.
The Nazis torture Sergei, but he says nothing. Then in front of Sergei's own eyes, they strip and torture his mother.
More tortures of the Young Guard continue. Then one night they are led out to trucks. Many of the Young Guards are unable to walk. They carried out Anatoly Popov, one of whose feet had been hacked off. Zhenya Shepelyov and Ragozin lead out Vitya Petrov, whose eyes had been gouged out. Volodya Osmukhin's right hand had been cut off. Most of the prisoners are too weak to attempt anything. But Anatoly Kovalyov still has strong limbs--that's why his arms are tied behind his back. Weak as Sergei is, he uses his teeth to unloosen the knot on Anatoly's hands. As the trucks past a snow-covered ravine, Anatoly leaps out and runs for freedom. The Nazis shoot after Anatoly, but don't give chase, fearing to leave the other prisoners unguarded.
The convoy reaches the No. 5 Pit of the mines. The Young Guards are hurled down the empty shaft to their deaths. For good measure, the Germans drop two coal wagons down on top of them. The groans of the dying were heard for several days afterwords.
Meanwhile, Lyutikov and Oleg are questioned and tortured by the Gestapo at Rovenki. Later, Lyutikov, Barakov, and other captured adult members of the underground meet the same fate as the Young Guard--they are hurled down the mine shaft. Oleg is shot on 31 January and buried in a common pit.
Lyuba is tortured until 7 February, as the Nazis endeavore to obtain from her the code for her wireless transmitter. Of course she reveals nothing. When time for her execution comes, the Nazis wants her to kneel and be shot in the nape of the neck. Lyuba refuses to go down on her knees and so receives the bullet in her face.
On 15 February, the Soviet troops arrive in Krasnodon, liberating it. The bodies of the Young Guards and their elder comrades are retrieved from the mine shaft and buried in two common graves in the park. Temporary monuments are erected over the graves in the form of simple wooden obelisks, on which are inscribed the names of all you had fought in the Young Guard and died for their country.
The Young Guard portrayed in this novel were real people--real heroes--and here are there names:
Oleg Koshevoi. Ivan Zemnukhov. Ulyana Gromova. Sergei Tyulenin. Lyubov Shevtsova. Anatoly Popov. Nikolai Sumskoi. Vladimir Osmukhin. Anatoly Orlov. Sergei Levashov. Stepan Safonov. Viktor Petrov. Antonina Yeliseyenko. Viktor Lykyanchenko. Klavdia Kovalyova. Maya Peglivanova. Aleksandra Bondareva. Vaily Bondarev. Aleksandra Dubrovina. Lidia Androsova. Antonina Mashchenko. Yevgeny Moshkov. Lilia Ivanikhina. Antonina Ivanikhina. Boris Glavan. Vladimir Ragozin. Yevgeny Shepelyov. Anna Sopova. Vladimir Zhdanov. Vasily Pirozhok. Semyon Ostapenko. Gennady Lukashev. Angelina Samoshina. Nina Minayeva. Leonid Dadyshev. Aleksand Shishchenko. Anatoly Nikolayev. Demyan Fomin. Nina Gerasimova. Georgi Shcherbakov. Nina Startseva. Nadezhda Petlya. Vladimir Kulikov. Yevgenia Kirykova. Nikolai Zhukov. Vladimir Zagoruiko. Yuri Vitsenovsky. Mikhail Grigoryev. Vasily Borisov. Nina Kezikova. Antonina Dyachenko. Nikolai Mironov. Vasily Tkachov. Pavel Palaguta. Dmitry Ogurtsov. Viktor Subbotin.
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and other documents
concerning the real
members of the
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ilIustrations by V. Shcheglov