If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

The story of one photo. Aleksandr Shelestov

The story of one photo. Aleksandr Shelestov - e-history.kz
Aleksandr Shelestov believed that he was lucky to escape from the concentration camp near Vitebsk. Together with two sailors he managed to stun a sentry and run away.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. It gives us an opportunity to recall the most terrible pages of our history and thank those people who protected our land from the enemy.

As time passes there are fewer and fewer veterans. Thus, their age ends but we have no right to forget it.

In our village, the last veteran passed away in 2011.

Shelestov Aleksandr Vasilyevich died and we can’t talk with this great person and real defender of the country anymore.

Children who study at our school liked to visit his hospitable house. But we even didn’t know how many trials he had endured.

Aleksandr Shelestov was born in the city of Omsk on November 5, 1920. He had a large family of 9 members: children studied and helped their parents to do general domestic work. After moving to the sovkhoz (a state-owned farm) "Priyrtyshskiy" the family's head launched a foundry to repair various components. Aleksandr’s father was arrested in 1937 and the boy was forced to leave school and start working. In 1938, his father was released from prison. And in 1940 Aleksandr Shelestov was conscripted into the Army.

World War II found him in the city of Dzhambul (now Taraz). Aleksandr received baptism of fire in the battle of Smolensk in early July 1941.

The veteran recalled the following: "Germans bombed us violently. The attack was the most strong near the city of Yartsev. And the battle of Vyazma resulted in the encirclement of our military unit". According to the veteran, Soviet troops left their tanks fighting in the most important directions. In that situation, they had to burn their car and go by step searching for the Soviet positions. In a forest where the shelling was weaker, they found out that other Soviet units were in the same situation. Commander joined their forces and decided to break the encirclement at night. In that battle, Aleksandr Shelestov was contused and injured by shrapnel. Being in a state of helplessness he was captured by Nazis and sent to a quickly built concentration camp near Vitebsk.

Aleksandr Shelestov told us that the life conditions in the camp were inhuman. Soldiers abused, starved and kicked prisoners. Around 50-100 people, died there every day.

The veteran believed that he was lucky to escape from that place. Together with two sailors he managed to stun a sentry and run away. They walked 25 km over the night. The next day jail-breakers hid in a haystack and moved again. So, three days passed.

Very soon, they reached a village where countrymen gave them food and shelter. Despite the precautions, one of the sailors ate too much and died. After burying the poor fellow Aleksandr Shelestov and his mate continued their journey. They went to partisans.

From March 1942 to February 1943 Aleksandr Shelestov was a commander of a partisan unit. For his service, the young man was awarded the medal "Partisan of the Patriotic War", second class.


After a while, Aleksandr Shelestov became soldier of the 119th Infantry Division. On February 23, 1943 the soldier was hit in the hip by shrapnel. During four months, the soldier was getting medical care in different hospitals but the wound didn’t heal. The Victory met him in Romania and finished the military service in Moldavia in May 1946.



After the war, Aleksandr Shelestov returned to our village. He didn’t take a long rest. The country required working people. Our veteran was devoted to his village and worked tirelessly for the benefit of the nation until his death.



I’m proud of my fellow countryman! He lived in dignity and will remain in our memory forever! Today I would like to thank him. Thank him for our life and peace!

Kazantseva Viktoriya,
grade 6 student of the Priirtyshskaya Secondary School named after T.P. Praslov,
the village of Priirtyshskoe, Pavlodar region