Now and Then - Gatchina Monument Paul I

Gatchina Paul I monument siege Leningrad liberation

Gatchina, Palace square. January 1944 / Gatchina, Palace square. January 2022

Liberators of Gatchina walk past the monument to Paul I next to the Gatchina Palace.

From the memoirs of V. Sokolov, Private, 224th Rifle Division:

"Back then, in January 1944, we quickly sprinted past the burning palace right by the very monument to Paul I. And we were able to capture the building only several hours later. By that time only three of us remained: I, my comrade from Uzbekistan Avreyev and Ivan Golovin from Ulyanovsk province.

We noticed from the window that a large group of fascists was trying to break through towards the Warshavsky train station along the railroad track. We opened fire altogether and nearly each bullet of ours hit its intended target. But we had a hard time there very soon.

Enraged fascists assaulted us, opening frenzied fire. Soon two of my comrades lay dead. In a short while an enemy bullet didn't miss me either. I lost consciousness. I woke up feeling I was being dragged somewhere. Having opened my eyes, I saw the fascists who tried to throw me out of a building. Then I was shot another time. This is how I was "killed" for the second time in one day. It was only the next day that I regained consciousness and our medics told me I was found lying in a corner lifeless in a pool of my own blood...

For the time being we, ten wounded soldiers, were left in the house of one woman in the outskirts of the town (unfortunately, I completely forgot where exactly we were accommodated then). I only know one thing: this woman took great care of us and shared her last potatoes, as she had nothing else to share. Wounded soldiers took her potatoes with tears in their eyes, feeling they were at home, with the people who were very grateful for their liberation".

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