“The forward positions eventually began to crack and were destroyed by German tanks and infantry. We fought from house to house and room to room. I linked up with another couple of men and tried to stop the enemy from climbing the stairs up to us.
There was some hand to hand fighting and I grappled with a chap who grabbed my rifle. His teeth were clenched and I could smell his breath as he shouted at me. Then he let go and ran around a corner. A grenade! There was an explosion which threw me to the floor. I came to seconds later with a large German standing over me.
I was helped to my feet by the same man whom I had been fighting just seconds before. It reminded me of a football match before the war, where an opponent helps you up after a hard tackle! It was extraordinary, because we had seen what the Germans were capable of.
Here I was being led out into the street by a man who had been trying to kill me moments before. He took me to a line of other prisoners. As he left – I’ll never forget this – he looked at me, nodded and smiled. There was a recognition in that brief gesture that we were part of something bigger than both of us and that we needed to retain our humanity.”
– Igor Panesenko, Soviet Red Army, The Battle of Kursk 1943
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.