Hi. Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentin. I like history. But I think that we can learn history in different ways.
What does HISTORY mean for you? Imagined?
For me it is numerous brooks which flow into one river.
When I was a student of historical faculty I heard a lot of different stories about The World War II. Most of them tell us about the tragedy of war. But today I want to tell you a story about Love. It’s not the story of my own family, but I’d like to share this one with you.
This story is about Maria Demina (1923 -2011). She took part in the Second World War. And her story was a secret for everyone for about 67 years. Before she died, she shared the story with her daughter.
So, it was June 1941. She was 17 and she graduated school. Maria had great plans for her future. She wanted to enter the university and became a doctor.
22 June her village was occupied. There was an German airfield. And a lot of soldiers lived in that village. At the beginning everything was ok. Nobody resisted. And in 1941 village people lived mostly their typical life. They worked in the field, did their housework. Sometimes villagers spent their free time with dances and music in a local club. And Germans took part in it too.
One day Maria came to the club. Germans brought a gramophone and all danced together. An officer invited Maria for a dance. Maria didn’t know what happened, but she said later that it was love at first sight. After evening he took her home. The officer told Maria about his family. He was an artist before. He didn’t want to fight. But now he was an officer and he must follow orders.
Near the house Maria’s father saw them. The father ordered Maria to forget about that officer. Because he was German. Their friendship may cause very big problems to their family. Maria became a prisoner of her own family. Though they kept dating secretly.
Once the officer came to her family and talked to her parents. He said that he was not an enemy. He didn’t want to fight. Father told him to go away. Because their relationship can cause problems for everyone. At that time the guerrillas came to that area.
The officer went. Later Maria received a letter from him. The officer declared his love. And asked Maria to marry him.
Maria didn’t know what to do at that time. But fate decided for them. In some days the officer’s plane was shot down.
This War changed Maria’s life. After 1943 she volunteered as a nurse. And she returned home only in 1945.
Later she had a man, a daughter, but… She carried her secret with her through her entire life. This love story she shared with a daughter in the very end. Keeping smiling, remembering her first love, first kiss and their talks.
Valentine Chukhlatyi is a YMCA Volunteer from Brest, Belarus
This article is part of the World by Word campaign. This project originated at YMCA Netherlands and is a multinational cooperation of YMCA Europe Roots for Peace project, and the Dutch former Soviet Cemetery Leusden. World by Word is a prelude to an Erasmus+ funded Youth Exchange “Then, now and later: towards a composite memory”, taking place in the Netherlands in 2022.