On the Eastern Front at Seventeen (ePub)
The Memoirs of a Red Army Soldier, 1942–1944
This is the true story of a young Red Army soldier during the Second World War, told in his own words. Recruited into the army aged just seventeen, Sergei Drobyazko’s introduction to battle is a violent one: forced to retreat from his home city of Krasnodar after it is set ablaze by German forces. Later, Drobyazko is captured by the Germans and placed in a concentration camp, where prisoners are reduced to eating scavenged rubbish and bathing battle wounds in urine.
After a daring escape from the camp, he enters service once more, rising to the rank of sergeant in an infantry regiment. During this time, he witnesses the execution of deserters and the routine ill-treatment of German prisoners of war by vengeful Soviet troops. After surviving an attack that decimates his detachment, Drobyazko is almost court-martialled. Seriously wounded in 1944, he retrains as a radio operator, but he never returns to the war front.
In this gripping memoir, Drobyazko sets down his experience of the war as it unfolded around him. He claims to have consulted no historical sources and to have simply relied on his own memory, making this a deeply personal account. Translated into English for the first time, this unique account will be enjoyed by readers with an interest in military history.