Red Partisan – The Memoir of a Soviet Resistance Fighter on the Eastern Front – Nicoláj I. Obrynba

Norwegian title: Rød Partisan – Bak nazistenes linjer

Hello everyone!

It’s been a little while now. I’m sorry about that but it is exam season and I’m back at work so things are slowing picking up speed again. I’ve finished a book from a perspective that I’ve never encountered before so I’ve rather enjoyed that! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

The epic World War II battles between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are the subject of a vast literature, but little has been published in English on the experiences of ordinary Soviets—civilians and soldiers—who were sucked into a bitter conflict that marked their lives forever. Their struggle for survival, and their resistance to the invaders’ brutality in the occupied territories, is one of the great untold stories of the war.

This is why Nikolai Obryn’ba’s unforgettable, intimate memoir is so valuable. Written late in the author’s life, it tells of Operation Barbarossa, during which he was taken prisoner; the horrors of SS prison camps; his escape; his war fighting behind German lines as a partisan; and the world of suffering and tragedy around him. His perceptive, uncompromising account lays bare the everyday reality of war on the Eastern Front.

Red Partisan is an easy read which is quite nice! I’ve found that when people write memoirs they often become heavy and difficult to read. I’m normally not the greatest fan of memoirs and diaries but I enjoyed reading this one. The reason for why I tend to not be a fan of memoirs and diaries is that sometimes people’s thoughts are too hard to follow when the historical setting is so different from when the memoir/diary was originally written. However, if you make too many changes to a memoir/diary in order to make it more relatable for a modern reader the document will loose it’s authenticity. Obrynba has managed to keep his memoirs relatable for modern readers AND kept the language simple. There is a picture section in the book which was really helpful when it came to picture the people who appears in Obrynba’s memoir and the way they lived.

As I mentioned above, I’ve never read a book about the war from this perspective and it brought me a new perspective on how Soviet civilians lived whilst occupied by the nazis. I almost got the sense that it resembled Robin Hood to some degree with the partisans hiding in the forest and the nazis looming around. Of course I know this is far from the case, and the way Obrynba tells about their missions in intimate detail confirms this even further. Being as partisan must have been horrifying and exciting at the same time. Horrifying in the sense that you constantly had to watch your back, also whilst in camp, because you never knew when the enemy could approach. Sometimes, as Obrynba pictures it, it was also difficult to know whether it was a friend or foe who entered the camp. At the same time it myst have been exciting to know that you were doing something essential for your country whilst it was occupied. The way Obrynba contributed may have been a little unorthodocs but still he had a very vital role to play in the partisans actions.

Speaking of Obrynba’s role in the partisan camp. I particularly enjoyed the many ways an artist could be of use to the partisans. I’ve never even thought about this throughout all the books I’ve read about WW2. I know artists have been mentioned in some of the previous books I’ve read but none of them had the role that Obrynba had. I’m not a very artistic person but I enjoyed reading about how Obrynba and his colleauges made do with what they had, how they got a hold of materials, and what sort of pictures they painted. I would really like to see more of them than those we get to see in the picture section of the book.

Red Partisan is an exciting book from a new perspective of the nazi occupation of Soviet. I learned quite a bit and I really enjoyed reading a book from a Soviet resistance soldier who wasn’t fighting in the more known areas of the Eastern Front. It’s an easy but solid read and quite enjoyable!

Published: 2007

Genre: WW2 History

Theme: Resistance, occupation, Soviet

– The Book Reader

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