The Diary of Vladimir Petrenko, a second year student studying Russian Philology at Moscow University, May 1943.
Dear diary: Today I must tell you of something I saw which was amazing. I can scarcely believe it happened in front of my own eyes.
I needed to do a field report on a typical Ukranian Derevnia for my cultural studies. and so I wanted find a typical hamlet and had selected my destination, Onufriyivka close to Kremenchuk in Kirovohrad oblast as hopefully typical of the region. I arrived on surprisingly almost empty train and the day continued perfectly normally. After a short stroll around the hamlet, I made a small woodcut of the general plan.
In the centre of the village, the presumably popular bathhouse was flanked by a crafts workshop and some communal quarters, largely as I had expected.
Although the population had almost all left, I assumed for some local harvest festival, I was still able to get some of the atmosphere of the place. Birds were in abundance. The domiciles were in good order.
The police station was predictably strategically positioned to keep a steady eye on the population to ensure order according to our law.
A railway line...a new road...I felt this hamlet showed all the signs of future prosperity. I continued my walk, taking fruit from the trees as I went.
I soon stumbled across an abandoned vehicle close to the tracks. I cannot express to you how unusual this was in such a rural location. My shock quickly turned to amazement. This was a European vehicle! On closer examination I discovered to my horror it was nothing less than German! What could this possibly mean? I was hundreds of miles away from the front. Wasn't I?
I ran directly from the village and scaled a tree in a panic. I surveyed the entire area. There was some distant rumbling but I was sure that was a train. Otherwise nothing to be seen or heard.
I soon felt silly and embarrassed at being so afraid of nothing and so resolved to continue my tour of the village.
And it was then I came across another vehicle!But this truck filled me with confidence rather than fear! My brother makes these in Factory No. 174 K.E. Voroshilov in Leningrad.
It is a wonderful machine and example of our great war effort. I think it is mainly used by our glorious Red Army!
A line of soldiers came immediately into view only about 200 meters to my left, moving around a buildings. I identified them as German immediately - I recognised their uniforms from the Universal Newsreels. Their plentiful weapons gleamed in the morning sun. Even if I had made a mistake this was no time to find out. I slowly sunk to my belly and crawled to a nearby wheat field.
I soon could bear it no more and dared to cast a glance. As the horizon came into view, I saw more German soldiers approaching slowly on the far side of the village. My heart sank.
And soon they seemed all around me, their voices, orders, marching, laughing and complaining now clearly audible to my ears.
Will I still be alive at sunset? I can only hope.
It suddenly dawned upon me that the rumbling I had assumed was a distant train was now extremely loud. I could not help myself and chanced another peek. As if I was not scared enough, I was now looking at a tank. A Tiger tank. One of these tanks had actually come to me in a dream some months ago. And now this was my nightmare.
And with the very ground shaking with their thunder, yet more tanks assemble! My only hope is to lay quietly and wait. But I am surely doomed!
Do not start your engines! Wait for the order!
Prime the flamethrowers!
Razvedchiki report they are just the other side of the Derevnia Sir!
Ready the Strelkovy for immediate assault!
Razvedchiki! You know your orders!
Company is assembled for attack Sir!