Do not miss me. Wait and hope.
From the battalion of military offenders
Boris was surrounded by the enemy near Vyazma, where he was beaten up and captured. He went through all the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps and he tried to escape twice. He was freed by the Soviet troops on April 8, 1945 in Konigsberg. Right after being in captivity, he was posted into the battalion of military offender by Stalin’s orders “to justify the confidence by life or blood”.
On April 26, before the battle at dawn, he sent a postcard to his parents, writing that he was safe and sound. But then he regretted it because he was in such a terrible place that he could be dead at any moment. He thought, ‘Why should I give hope to my parents? After four years of silence they could have accepted the situation…’
Message to Siberia
Hello, my dear parents, in the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am safe and sound and I wish the same for you. Say hello to all.
With regards, your son Boris.
After the Great Victory
Letter dated May 9, 1945
Message to Siberia.
Hello, dear parents. In the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am quite safe and sound, except for a minor thing – I got wounded in the right arm. The wound is not serious, only a flesh wound, so I’m asking you not to worry too much. Dear Mom and Dad, it has been a while since I got some news from you, so I ask you to write me in detail about my friends Igor Kabelin, Sashka Zabelin and others, where are they? Please, write to me about how you are. How are Nyura and her daughters? Vera, probably, has already become a lady.
Dear parents, let me congratulate you on the Great Victory over the enemy of the entire mankind – the fascists. Thus, the enemy is defeated and he’ll remember for a long time what it is like to poke his snout into our Soviet garden. Dear parents, I don’t have any photographs, so I have a favor to ask of you – send me a picture of you. I would have sent one of me, but, unfortunately, I don’t have one. Well, it seems that nothing’s left to say. Don’t worry about my health. If you saw me now, you wouldn’t recognize me. I can boast that I already have a guardsman’s moustache, and I would have grown a beard, if it had been allowed. This is where I say goodbye. Say hello to all my friends and relatives.
Well, enough, so far, it’s time to stop writing
I wonder, whether I can see my love tonight,
Tenderly I kiss and warmly shake your hand
And send to you my greetings from the guard again.
Your son, Boris Serebryakov.
Letter dated May 21, 1945
Hello, dear parents, in the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am quite safe and sound. I’m still in the hospital, but the hand will heal soon. Dear Mom, please, don’t worry, everything’s all right. I have written three letters already, but cannot wait for your response, and my soul is prey to many doubts – whether there is still the very flame that has been burning in my heart for almost five years, and which only I lived for. Mom, forgive me, when we said goodbye to each other in 1940, I behaved myself disgracefully, because I sent you home two hours before the train’s departure. I still cannot forgive myself for this mistake. Although that time I felt myself like an adult, in fact, I was a just a child. Now I’ve realized everything, as I went along this difficult and hard road and graduated from the academy of life.
My dear Mom, I’m sincerely sorry for being so philosophical, when it isn’t the right time for it. Write to me, please, where is Dad? If he’s home, tell him not to take any offense, as I don’t know about you at all and I believe that only you are at home, my dear. But, my dear, try to understand, that this letter also refers to my dear Dad. Well, it’s time to stop my writing. I’m looking forward to your response. When I receive it and learn something about your life, I’ll write.
Kiss you, your Boris. Field post 087996
Letter dated June 16, 1945
Message to Siberia.
Hello, dear parents, in the first lines of my letter I’m hurrying to tell you that I’ve received your letter and I’m writing my response without wasting a minute. You cannot imagine how happy I am! My soul’s dancing a gypsy dance and tears are welling up in my eyes. Dear parents, I’ve been waiting for your letter like a prisoner longs for freedom, like a doomed man seeks salvation. I can’t find the right words to express my feelings. Now all my doubts are gone, you, my dear parents, are alive, and the flame in my soul now burns as brightly as the souls of those who are separated from their loved ones. Mom and Dad, you write that you’ve experienced a lot. So did I. ‘You’ve never taken a real knock’, as Mom used to tell me. Mom, you want me to be transported to Novosibirsk, but it’s impossible, because my arm is already fine, so there’s no need to worry. It wasn’t a bad wound; it was just a deep flesh wound.
Mom, you write that Eugene and Igor are dead. It’s natural, it was the war, and there is no war without losses. Of course, it’s a tragedy, but there’s nothing we can do. Dear Dad, please, write to me about your job and whether you live happily or not and do it frankly, as I write. Dear parents, I have a favor to ask of you – send me the addresses of Misha Bogdanov, Lisa, Nyura, Ivan, Sasha Krikunenko, Kolya Yaschenko, Sasha Zabelin, Levchuk and that Ninochka Khlebnikova. I remember something, but don’t know exactly, is that Nina, who lives in the Central Committee Bank? Mom, if you can, please, find Gelka Gridneva’s address, she, probably, has already got married. I want to enter into correspondence with all my friends and close people, who’re still alive. Dad, you write that some girls, our neighbours, had come to visit us, who were they? And what did they forget in our house, when there aren’t any friends there? Of course, you understand that I ask these questions jokingly, because in this respect I’m very much like my relatives.
Mom and Dad, say hello to all my friends and relatives, especially to Nina. Keeping well, so far, your son Boris Serebryakov. Beginning to write Misha Serbryakov.
People, mentioned in the letter:
Eugene Kornilyev (b.1914) – cousin, drafted on August 1943, died August 13, 1944.
Igor Kabanov (b. 1923) – classmate, died because of wounds November 28, 1943.
Zabelin, Levchuk, Gridneva – classmates.
Lisa Bogdanova (Kornilyeva) – cousin (her husband Michael).
Ivan Kornilyev – cousin.
Nyura – wife of Boris’s cousin, Nikolay Balab.
Misha Serebryakov – cousin.
Postcard dated June 19, 1945
Hello, my dear parents, I’ve just received the letter you had sent 03.06.1945 and now I am answering immediately, without wasting even a minute. I’m very glad that you, my dear parents, are safe and sound, it’s the most important thing in this world. In turn, I’m writing that I’m fine too, and I wish the same for you. Dear parents, I always think about you. Mom, I wrote a letter to Kolya Yaschenko and brother Misha.
I haven’t got the letters with the photographs yet, maybe, they’ll arrive soon. As for getting a furlough, I think, it’s too early, because I need to learn more about the art of war in order to master it perfectly.
Enough writing. Kisses, your son B.Serebryakov.
Letter dated June 26, 1945
Greetings from East Prussia.
Hello, my dear Mom!
In the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I’ve received the letter you had written 12.06.1945, and I’m responding it without wasting a second. My dear Mom, I’m really thankful to you and Dad for thinking about me. And firstly, in acknowledgement of my gratitude I’m writing that I’m safe and sound. My wound has healed well and, I will be sent back to my unit soon. My dear parents, Mom and Dad, you write that sometimes you feel sad, and, actually, so do I. Earlier, before I went to the army, I had had no idea of what it was like when Mom was anxious about me. I couldn’t understand why sometimes she didn’t sleep and waited for me coming from a party or skating.
Now I fully understand this feeling and even cannot sleep and think about home and family; what is Mom doing and is Dad busy? Mom, answering your question: you write that you had sent me six letters, but I received only three of them, letters from 03.06.45, from 30.05.45 and from 12.05.45. I didn’t get letters with photographs, but I hope that you’ll send me new ones, if I have permanent address. Dear Mom, I know that you feel extremely bored, but my motherland is short of people and I ought to serve. As soon as my service is ended, I’ll come to you, my dear parents. Dear Mom, I don’t know how to explain, how much I want to be home, but we need to be patient, wait and hope. Dear Mom, wait and wait for me, I’ll come back unexpectedly, suddenly and as soon as I return, we’ll hold a sumptuous feast. Keeping well, so far, sending you my heartfelt greetings and wishing you all the best.
Say hello to all my friends and relatives. Kiss you.
Field post 08799
Letter dated June 27, 1945
Hello, dear parents.
In the first lines of my letter I’m in a hurry to tell you that I am quite safe and sound. I’m fine and wish you all the best in your life. Dear Mom and Dad, I decided to write you as often as I can to make it more fun. Know that when I get your letter it seems like I become drunk, I’m infinitely happy and I can feel you right by my side. I can’t stop thinking about my home since I got your first letter. I was so happy and my eyes were full of tears, and that has never happened to me in the hardest moments of my independent life.
Yes, I’ve experienced a lot in these last 5 years, since the moment we said goodbye, but all these have gone and there’s no need to remember. Now it’s time to think about my future life, I’m no longer a boy, I’m 24 now, and I don’t have any profession. Dad was right, he said, ‘Boris, learn from me. Once you learn, you’ll never forget it’. But I was young and didn’t understand that all this is necessary. And now, as soon as I come home, I’m planning to learn to work from Dad and then, maybe, I’ll continue my education. Dear parents, sorry for thinking too much and for not writing about me. There’s nothing to write about me, the life of a military man is without incidents and accidents, that’s it. I live as usual, friendly and cheerful with everyone. You know, I’m more interested in your life, how are you, what do you do? How are my relatives? Aunt Agasha, Arsenty Ignatyevich, Nyura, Lisa, Ivan, Verochka, Nadya, well, I cannot name all of them. Have you seen Sashka Zabelin? Why doesn’t he write? I would have written to him, if only I had known his address.
This is where I say goodbye.
Kiss you. Your son Boris Serebryakov.
Wrote at 01:00 AM.
Letter dated June 29, 1945
Greetings from East Prussia.
Hello, dear parents.
In the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am quite safe and sound. I got the letter you wrote 16.06.1945 and I’m responding it without wasting a second. In total I’ve got four letters from you, but haven’t got the ones with photographs yet. I’ll ask our postman. Dear Mom, I received a letter from Misha Levchuk. And he wrote everything that was interesting for me about Gelka. Dear Mom, now I wonder, why you didn’t write me that Dad is disabled? More than that, you write that you’ll send some money, if I need it. I would be happy to help you, but I can’t. Soon I will be in my unit, and I will try and get a holiday. And you try to get a health declaration, maybe it will work. I’m thinking about staying to serve at the hospital, but don’t know exactly whether it will be possible or not.
You write that I have probably grown up and got stronger, and yes, you’re right, I’ve, indeed, grown up, but I haven’t managed to get stronger, I’m still as thin as a rake as I used to be. Dear parents, I really worry about your health, and I can do absolutely nothing about it. When I arrive, everything’s going to be easier. Mom, I would like to ask you, please, live happily, and then you’ll maintain your health. Stay strong, I’ll be back and our lives will be more wonderful and better. I live for you, I am with you, your lives and health are so important to me. As soon as I arrive I will do my best in order to make your life peaceful and happy. Well, that’s it. Say hello to Nyura and her family, to Liza, Ivan and all my relatives and friends.
Kiss you. Your son Boris Serebryakov. 1 p.m.
Letter dated July 19, 1945.
Dear parents, hello, in the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am safe and sound and I wish the same for you. Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry for not writing for so long time. It’s because I hadn’t had my permanent address yet, but I hope that our correspondence will run better because my current address is permanent now. I’m fine, I work at the hospital. There aren’t actually drills, so I might say it’s not a service at all, but a resort. Recently I’ve received a letter from Belova Lydia. She writes that Michael cannot write because of his wound.
In a word, I’m beginning to make connections again with my relatives. Dear parents, what happened with your letters? Why don’t you write? My dear parents, probably, you are bewildered by the fact that I don’t write much about myself. It’s because I really have nothing worth mentioning about me. I’m more interested in what’s happening in my motherland, how my family lives there, how my friends spend their time.
Well, so far. Say hello to all my relatives and friends.
Still safe and sound, kiss you.
Your son Boris Serebryakov.
My new address: field post №54277
Letter dated October 21, 1945
Greetings to you, my dear parents. In the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am safe and sound. I’ve got the letters you had written 01.08.1945 and 07.08.1945 and at once I’m responding without wasting a second. Dear parents, now I think that our correspondence will be regular. The thing is that when I arrived at my unit I was sent on a harvesting campaign and had no opportunity to send letters to the unit. When I came back from the campaign, I sent a letter with my fellow countryman, who went on his holiday together with Zhenya Vodolazkin.
Dear parents, in the letter I asked you to send me parcel, so, please, find out his surname and the number of his field post, though this guy seemed to be honest, but you cannot be in someone’s shoes. Dear parents, I’m very happy that you’re prepared for the winter period and that you have enough coal, fire-wood, potatoes and even keep small cattle.
Dear parents, express my gratitude to Michael, he’s the only one who remained my loyal friend. Dear Dad, allow me to explain two things. The point is the following: I did write in the letter that I don’t need money here, because you cannot get something for money, here there’s no need to have a lot of money, better to be surrounded by a hundred of good friends and everything will be fine. Dear parents, don’t worry about my food and I’m not going to write much, I’ll just mention one thing – the cook here is my friend and I have got two others at the mill, so I have enough food. I received the money, 300 rubles, and I don’t know where to spend it, I would like to get a picture taken of me, so I’ll wait for it and that’s the thing I’ll pay for. Dear parents, I guess you’re expecting me to be home by winter. But I really doubt that I’ll get to my native land by winter. Maybe in winter I’ll go on my holiday.
Dear parents, you write that you feel upset every time you see a postman walking by, I know that feeling, and we’re separated by an enormous distance. You must understand that the life of a soldier is devoid of anything special; every day is the same, so there’s absolutely nothing interesting to write about myself. Dear parents, let’s make a deal – let’s not miss each other and let’s “wait and hope,” as the count of Monte Cristo said. I live and give thanks that I’m still alive, I’ve gone through thick and thin, I’ve been in the hell, right in the demon’s teeth and managed to escape from it.
And, you know, there was the time when you lost all your hopes that I was alive, but I stayed alive. You have been waiting for me for so long, soon it will be five years since we said goodbye. Not so much time is left to wait until we’ll meet again. Dear parents, our motto should be as follows: Do not miss me. Wait and hope!
This is where I say goodbye.
Kiss you hard
And shake your hand
And send you my big guard’s greetings.
Letter from November 30, 1945
In the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I’ve received the letter you had written 12.06.1945, and I’m responding it immediately. Dear parents, I am safe and sound and I wish the same for you. Life’s good, I work as a chief of electricity station, although I’m just a soldier.
Dear parents, I asked my chief about my holiday and he promised me to give one in January. Can’t wait for this. My dear parents, wait a little more, I will definitely come to you.
Mom and Dad forgive me, I don’t write much, I have a lot of things to do. Here people call me ‘God of Light and Warmth’ and I have to handle with all possible and impossible work with electricity as well as metalwork. In general, I’ve become a universal specialist – I can take on almost any work dealing with electricity, radio and many others.
Dear parents, expect me to be at home in January, I don’t know the exact date. I won’t write much, I’ll tell you everything when I come home. Well, so far. Oh, yes, almost forgot to mention, I received your photos, thank you so much for them. Dear parents, I haven’t seen a photo since 1943. So, when I wake up, the first thing I do is look at your photograph and I remember everything and my sweet home.
So, I shall stop writing. Say hello to all my relatives and friends. Kiss you. See you soon. Your Boris. Local time 1 a.m., 6 a.m. Novosibirsk time.
Letter from January 24, 1946.
Hello, my dear parents. In the first lines of my letter I’m telling you that I am safe and sound and I wish the same for you. I’ve received the letter you had written 01.01.1946, and I’m responding it immediately. Dear parents, be strong and don’t worry about me. Everything is all right; I hold the post of a chief of electric drive, have much work to do. Dear parents, I wrote that I’ll come in January, but don’t wait for me because they cannot give me a holiday as no one is able to take my job.
Dear parents, I thought about the letters that will tell you everything, but from now on our correspondence will be regular. Dear parents, if I earn some money, I’ll send it to you, but now I don’t even have a copeck in my pocket, because I bought the officer cloth wool suit and calf boots. Dear parents, I heard a programme from Moscow, I.I. Malanin was playing, and I remembered my past. Dear parents, I’m preparing for elections, it’s interesting to know, who will be elected from Novosibirsk.
Keeping well, so far. Say hello to my relatives and friends. Kiss you. Your son, B.Serebryakov.
My father returned home in spring of 1946. Indeed, there was a long-awaited happy meeting, but unfortunately, not all his classmates were alive and saw the Victory. His friends Igor Kabanov, Gena Domrachev, cousin Evgeny Kornilyev and others died in the war.
And those who stayed alive kept in touch and often met with each other into old age.
The Serebryakovs had a sheep-dog called Gressa. While Boris was serving, his parents gave her to the kindergarten. He came back, found out about that and went to the kindergarten. And even after six years the dog recognized him and jumped on him with loud barking. The director was scared that the dog would bite the visitor!
Continue reading: The Spirit of the Boys’ Generation
Translation into English by Timofeeva Italina and edited by Leona Thomas for