104 letters from her brother are kept by Valentina Alexandrovna Kaverina. In the autumn of 1941, he was called upon to defend his native country, and on November 6, 1943, he died and was buried in a mass grave.

Valentina Alexandrovna is 97 years old, she has been living in Taganrog since 1951. She taught history at school number 14, and then at school number 22 – 35 years in total … And before that she lived in the Moscow region. Even before the war, their village Beloomut turned into a working settlement, when two factories were built there – a leather haberdashery and a garment factory. Brother Vladislav Surin was two and a half years older than her.

– When my brother was mobilized in November 1941, I was 16 years old. From the very beginning, life was not easy for my mother. At 20, she got married, and at 24 she was already a widow, when her brother was only 2.5 years old. We had to educate, raise. For her, children meant the whole world. Maria Ivanovna came from a family that was recognized as “kulak”. Even earlier, during the NEP, grandparents lived in a two-story house. On the ground floor they contained a shop, and in the annex there was a bakery. Since they used hired labor – bakers and a salesman worked for them, a few years later they were recognized as “kulaks” … And grandparents had seven children growing up. Grandpa died before Grandma and their four children were sent to the Urals. The family lived in the Sverdlovsk region for 10 years. And three children did not end up in exile – they stayed with relatives in Moscow.

During the war in Beloomut, young Valentina Kaverina worked for two years as a minder at a leather goods factory. They sewed grenade bags, made military soldier’s and officer’s belts. Men who used to work at the factory were called to the front at the beginning of the war, the factory was empty, and young people in the village were asked to take these jobs. Teenagers readily responded …

Valentina Alexandrovna carefully keeps the “triangle” letters from the front, many faded leaves are written in pencil. The notebook of her brother Vladislav Surin, from pre-war life, when he studied as a turner at the factory apprenticeship school, has also been preserved.

And here is what he wrote in a letter dated October 1943, less than a month before his death:

“Hello, mother and sister Valya! I send you my greetings and wish you all the best in your life, and most importantly, health! Mom, I’ve been getting letters from you almost every day lately. Three from you and one from Vali, for which many, many thanks! Otherwise, before that, I hadn’t received it for a very long time … For two years now, we haven’t seen each other. It is clear that you miss you very much, I miss you very much too. And I imagine all peacetime as if it was in a dream. You know how it is here at the front: all you hear is rumble, crackling and cannonade. Without habit it was difficult, but used to – nothing. The first time, of course, was terrible. And now – at least that! I often remember the house and you, I think: now I would come home to a warm room, undress, take off my shoes and go to bed – warm and good. But you know the front-line life, mom? We live in a field or in a forest, we sleep in trenches or dugouts, and sometimes we have to do it right outside.

Mom, you may not believe me – for the whole summer I did not have to sleep even once with my shoes on. We just take off our shoes, rewind the footcloths and put on our shoes back. This is because we are always on alert. Mom, are you wondering where we were standing? Summer we are on the defensive. Since it was impossible to write when we were there, I will write now. It was located on the Seim River, to the left of the city of Rylsk, 20 kilometers away. On the very Kursk Bulge that the Germans wanted to encircle, but you know how it turned out … And now they are beyond the Dnieper, but they can’t resist here for long, the end has come for them to reign on our land, which they themselves do not refuse, judging by the testimony prisoners. Mom, I’ll ask you: if they allow you to send parcels, then send tobacco. Otherwise, you know a soldier’s life: the best thing is to smoke by the fire, but there is not enough tobacco.

Then here’s something else: sheepskin mittens, but footcloths, handkerchiefs, and that’s it. From wool, no mittens, no socks – no need. Tomorrow we are to be given winter uniforms, many of them are already wearing them. We eat well, they never cook without meat, they feed us twice a day. Until then, goodbye! I remain V. Surin. Say hello to family and friends. And tobacco can be sent uncut. We will share it ourselves. And also, if possible, an ink pencil came.”

Unfortunately, the ink pencil did not reach the addressee, and precious letters fade with time. Their paper has become quite dilapidated, worn out. Valentina Alexandrovna copied her brother’s letters into one notebook, but even these lines fade with time.

Maybe someone wants to help an elderly woman – type on a computer for safety the words of these letters from the past? So important to us, so poignant, real in every detail…

Marina DARANSKAYA