On Ma 9, 2010 Nicolas Sarkozy shall allocate 5 000 Euros and present certificates of gratitude to the WW II veterans. On Ma9, Juan Carlos, the king of Spain, shall arrange a meeting at his palace, and shall issue a special decree on the social package for the WWII veterans. On May 9, the President of Russia, Medvedev, shall hold a banquet at the Kremlin, and the whole nation will be celebrating the national holiday. Georgian veterans are meeting May 9 with the exploded memorial, infringed dignity, and ignoble pension that was first allocated by Shevardnadze, and later was not taken back by Saakashvili; he did a favor. The history of Terenty Khubua, 96, a hero of the battle of Kursk is interesting since he is one of the ten survived people of the battalion participating in the battle of Kursk. Terenti Khubua is the WWII veteran and an IDP from Apkhazeti. Here is his story: – I was a director of the high school in the village of Gudava before the war. In 1939 I received an army-draft notice and I was sent to Artillery School. You had to serve in the Army for four years that time. I remember the cadets were sent to Lvov on June 22, 1941. We had hardly reached Lvov, when they started bombing the city at 7am. I had never seen blood before; I was a director of one of the schools in Apkhazeti. Everything happened all of a sudden, we were fifty people, the cadets; all of them were my friends. I was the eldest – 27. Everybody was killed in bombing, only four of us survived – one Russian, one form Bashkiria, and two Georgians. The other Georgian was Constantine (Costa) Beridze, an officer. We agreed that the survived between the two of us would take care of the both families. I had not met Constantine after Lvov, until my arrival in Georgia; we were in different units; In August 1945, when I returned to my country, and before I went to see my own family I decided to go and see Costa’s family. I did not know anything about him, except that he lived at Tskaro Street in Nakhalovka district of Tbilisi. I had to take care of his family and I went to find it and I met Costa, he was home! He was also wounded in his leg, like me. He said that he had visited my parents in Gudava. We have been friends since then; he baptized my daughter; he died but the relationship between our families is continuing.
– We know you participated in the battle of Kursk, which is recognized to be the turning-point in the history of the WWII.
– Do you know what Kursk was? It was the second Stalingrad. This arduous battle happened in 1943, and even radio operators did not survive from my battalion. Only ten seriously wounded solders survived, including me. I will tell you what I remember: after this battle I, a half-person found myself at Gorki hospital; I was unconscious for a long time; I was the commander of the battalion, we shelled from 30-40 kilometers, clearing the front lines.
The whole battalion was exterminated; we did not have the right to step back, Soviet Army was behind us; only radio operator, aide-de-camp and I survived. We moved to another entrenchment to protect ourselves from bombs. We had hardly entered trench and the bomb exploded; the radio operator and the aide-de-camp died there, before my eyes; I went dumb below the waist and I was bleeding; during two hours I would repeatedly loose my conscience and recover. The battle finished. Corps men would walk looking for survivors. They passed me, thinking that I was dead; one of them heard me groaning; he released me from the corps and took me to hospital despite the fact that the others were telling I would die on the way to. He was carrying me on his back four kilometers. I was thirsty but he said I could not drink. I put my gun to his forehead, saying I would kill him. I tortured him on the way to the hospital but he carried me there, and I was sent to Gorki hospital. Later, I found the guy – Vasili Onopko. We became friends, we were writing letters. Then I lost his address and could not get in touch with him.
– You were lucky to survive the June bombing of Lvov, than battle of Kursk…
– Kursk was the hardest one. God saved me, and I know the reason- it was because of a girl of eight. It happened before Kursk. In 1942 I was sent from Lvov to Moscow to collect weapon, we had to take cannons. We were travelling by train, open carriages. A train full of evacuated people- women, children and elderly people, left us behind. The Germans bombed the train. Blood was everywhere; the train was red with blood. We were a half a kilometer behind the train and we stopped when bombing started. The commander divided us into two units; one had to collect the corps, and the other had to fix the road. I was the head of one of the units. We were assigned to fix the road. When I reached the place I saw a girl of eight or nine, crying. The other unit was cleaning the territory from the corps. The child said that she was travelling with her mother to Moscow where her sister studied. The father was in the Army. The child did not know the address in Moscow. We were going there and I decided to take her too and look for her sister through”Sovetski Inform Biuro”. So I did. Then I collected the cannons and went back.
Then was the battle of Kursk. I had nine wounds; I was taken to Gorki hospital; I wrote letters to two people: one to the sister of that girl in Moscow, and the other to my wife in Apkhazeti. We had a daughter then. I wrote to my wife to sit home and take care of her; I was scared they might have decided to come and visit me and something wrong could have happened to them; but the young lady from Moscow arrived in Gorki together with her younger sister. Nobody was allowed to enter the hospital except for the family members. She said she was my wife and the little girl was our daughter. The doctor entered the ward saying that my family arrived. I got nervous but felt happy when I saw the two sisters from Moscow. They stayed with me until evening and then left. Later, when I was out of hospital I visited them in Moscow. I thought several times that if I had taken all the children and delivered them to their relatives I would not have been wounded that seriously. You can trust me – an experienced worrier – neither the knowledge of tactics, nor being lucky and smart can save you from the rain of bullets. The only thing that can save you is your kind deeds; nothing else shall work. It is not only my experience that proves that.
I do not remember exactly but I think it was near Minsk: one of my solders covered a German officer with his overcoat; the officer could hardly breathe, he was dying. It was November, very cold; it was crazy to be without the overcoat. My solder got very cold and was in hospital in Vitebsk – due to Plevritis. Three years later, when crossing the Ladogi Lake, 1022 people died, only that solder survived, can you imagine? Only he survived off 1000 people. The Great Patriotic War was a holly war to me – I differentiated the good from evil. You are facing an enemy and you know that if you cannot pardon your enemy, you will not survive yourself. It is difficult to understand but if you succeed in surviving the amount of blood, you re-emerge with more nobility.
– Please, tell us how you sang at the Bolshoi Theatre.
– In 1942 I arrived in Moscow to collect weapon. We camped in the Bolshoi Theatre. While waiting for our weapon, somebody said that we were in the Theatre and it would be good to sing. We were grouped by nation: Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Tajiks and the concert was organized. Nobody was Georgian except for me. I sang “Suliko” and danced Georgian folk dance, i.e. presented Georgia. I still boast that I have sung and danced at the Bolshoi Theatre.
– Where did you work after the war?
– I continued to work as a school director in different villages. Than I was a Chair of a collective farm; I was an instructor of the Party Rayon Committee; later, before retiring, I was the Head of the sector of Enguri Hydro-Power Station Party Committee. I always had high salary. I had all the privileges the war veterans had. I used to go to Kislovodsk; once I was seriously treated, I had ulcer problems and was in Leningrad Military Academy. I had never been charged for being treated. When the issue of the veteran salary was raised, I was asked to bring all the documents from my unit; the documents were kept near Moscow – Archive of Soviet Army. All the documents were there, the name of my battalion, and everything.
– We know you are having some problems presently.
– We, veterans, receive veteran pension and pension for being an invalid, and that’s it. What can we do? I also receive GEL 28 as an IDP; I have three children, nine grandchildren, and six grand-grand children. My wife is alive, and she is 89 years old.
We lack a lot today. I do not need anything; I do not want these allowances or thanks and awards. They exploded the memorial; they could not care less. I could understand even that, but I want to go back to my house, to Gudava! I want to see the place before I die!
Interviewed by Tamar Kevkhishvili