Archive for May 11, 2010

Dana’s Victory Day story and more Astana billboards

The following is a shorter story from a Kazakh woman in Almaty who wrote about her family’s involvement with WWII or Great Patriotic War as it was called here in the former Soviet Union.

The Great Patriotic War affected every family in our Kazakhstan.  My father and four of his brothers were at war from the very beginning. My father and three of his brothers came home wounded at the end of the war. One of my uncles  – Baizildayev Duisen went missing. My dad was searching for his brother all his life without success.

My mother’s uncles also were at war.  I know that fathers and uncles of my colleagues were at war. Therefore, I think we all who are living now must remember the heroism of World War II soldiers.

Yesterday I watched almost three hours of “Andersonville” the Rebels prison camp near Atlanta, Georgia where the Yankee soldiers were detained while the Civil War raged on.  A place meant to house only 8,000 POWs, had over 33,000 men in the camp, a miserable place.  In the span of less than two years, there were over 45,000 men who were thrown in this hell hole.  About a 1/4 of them died due to starvation, dysentery, scurvy and other sad conditions due to little medical treatment for the war wounded.  Others were murdered by the Raiders who were in the camp but were not disciplined military but rather hoodlums.

The only reason I watched this movie was out of curiosity because many Norwegians who had just arrived to Minnesota and Wisconsin signed up to be a part of the North’s effort to liberate the blacks from slavery.  One of my distant relatives, Bjorn Aslakson, from Telemark kept his wits about him and wrote in a small diary the atrocities he saw.  He was able to survive and eventually got back to his family in Minnesota but this place had broken his health, he didn’t live long once he returned home.

This sad plight was true of many of the Kazakh war veterans, if they survived the POW camps or fighting, they may have returned home wounded and were haunted with the memories of what they witnessed during war.  Dana is right, we MUST remember the heroism of WWII soldiers.  That is why I am showing more of the Astana billboards I saw along the highway to the airport.

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