Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Yedika Ivanonva, 94-Year-Old Russian Veteran Of World War II

From Hitler's 1941 invasion of Russia until the Nazi surrender in 1945, 24 million Russians died. Yedika Ivanonva served as a medic in the Red Army for all four years of the Soviet-German war. Now 94, she recalls: 

"My first wartime experience was with heavily wounded soldiers coming in freight trains from the front lines. They were unloaded and carried into schools, which had been converted into hospitals. These trains would return, full of soldiers from the city, to the front lines. In the hospital, nobody could afford to go home at night; we worked days in a row. We only took off our overcoats in order to put on our operating clothes. After several days, we would fall unconscious.  I wanted to give all of myself, everything I could, to relieve their suffering."

Yedika's work brought her to the front lines of the Battle of Stalingrad: "The wounded would support each other; they would crawl. They were coming in by the hundreds. There were airplanes flying overhead, shells going off all over the place. Flies were everywhere. When we were forced to retreat under heavy fire from German troops, I tried to imagine what might come next. How long would this take?" 

"How could I quit? We constantly had a goal: to win that small battle, to get that house, to get that village from the German troops. It was the desire for victory that kept us going."

After four years of war, what was Yedika's view of humanity? "Human beings can endure anything."

(Broadcast: "Home Ground Radio," 1/4/14. Listen weekly on the radio, Sundays at  11:10 a.m., or via podcast.)

Beth Anne Austein has been spinning tunes on the air (The Folk Show, Dancing With Tradition, Freeforms), as well as recording, editing and mixing audio for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS, since the Clinton Administration. She’s jockeyed faders or "fixed it in post” for The Plant Detective; Listeners Bookstall; Fieldnotes; Musicians Spotlight; The Write Question; Storycorps; Selected Shorts; Bill Raoul’s music series; orchestral and chamber concerts; lecture series; news interviews; and outside producers’ programs about topics ranging from philosophy to ticks.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content