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. Mikhail Kostenko

The story of one photo. Mikhail Kostenko - e-history.kz
Once I read an article about the veteran of the Great Patriotic War Mikhail Kostenko. The article "They Protected the Eastern Boundaries" was published in our local newspaper "Znamya Rodiny".

During the Great Patriotic War, people suffered much. Today respected people, veterans of the war live in our city. Their heroism is a good model to be followed.


Parade of Victory in Akkol area, 2014

I have been living in an orphanage since the age of three. I don’t know whether any of my relatives fought on the fronts of that war.

Once I read an article about the veteran of the Great Patriotic War Mikhail Kostenko. The article "They Protected the Eastern Boundaries" was published in our local newspaper "Znamya Rodiny".


Article about Mikhail Kostenko, newspaper "Znamya Rodiny"

I got interested in his life and destiny. With a teacher and children of our orphanage, I visited him to learn more about the war. I knew so much. I received an opportunity to learn a lot of historical facts from the veteran who was both eyewitness and participant of that horrible event.



Meeting with the veteran

Mikhail Kostenko told us that he was born on 6 December 1925 in the village of Novokievka, Makinsky area, Akmola region. I noted that the veteran didn’t like to talk about his past. He said that he served as others.

In 1943 at the age of eighteen, Mikhail Kostenko was recruited into the Red Army by the Makinsky Recruitment Office. He served in Zabaikalsk Military District. The veteran was a signalman. He was young and like many brother-soldiers strived to fight against fascists on western fronts. But the commanders responded them: "And who will protect our eastern boundaries. There is an invisible front; the Japanese are waiting for the moment to attack the Soviet Far East".

The service was hard there as well. The military time was accompanied by frequent disruptions of supply, the permanent psychological pressure exerted by Manchuria. Mikhail Kostenko recalled that the Soviet positions were concealed. Even barracks, where soldiers had a rest, were dug like dugouts; only roofs could be observed.

In August 1945 when the Soviet Union declared war on military Japan, Mikhail Kostenko as a member of his military unit set his foot in the land of Manchuria. They moved through Khaidar and signalman Kostenko provided communication with headquarters.


Signalmen, 1 October 1945, Changchun, China (Mikhail Kostenko is in the second row, left)


Mikhail Kostenko with fellow soldiers (Vasiliy Ustinov, Vasiliy Nilov, Sergey Korchunov). 1 October 1945, Changchun, China

Soviet soldiers met the Japanese rarely. Sometimes they saw suicide combatants who were handcuffed at machine-guns. After an occupation of cities and villages, Soviet troops left a platoon of curfews there and continued the offensive.



Mikhail Kostenko and Vasiliy Nilov. 9 October 1945, Changchun, China

Mikhail Kostenko met the victory in the Chinese city of Changchun. For the participation in military operations, he was awarded the medal "For the Victory over Japan".

But the military service continued. The veteran was discharged in 1948 and came back home. In Kazakhstan Mikhail Kostenko and his wife Serafima were among the first constructors of the Mointy-Chu railway.


Group of constructors of the Mointy-Chu railway, 1948, Balkhash

Later they worked for the railway station in Akmolinsk (now Astana). The family has been living and working in our city since 1956.

The veteran has a big and friendly family, including three sons, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The difficult life is behind, but Mikhail Kostenko doesn’t take offence at his destiny and is quite optimistic about the future. I’d like to wish him sound health and long happy life.

I believe that everyone has to remember the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War and realise that their courage and resolve guaranteed the life in such a wonderful world. Our duty is not to start even minor wars; we have to live in peace and friendship.

Popova Anastasiya,
grade 10 student of the Akkol Orphanage,
Akkol, Akmola region