Khrushka the Prize Pig
|A still from the 2005 Russian film "First on the Moon" (source)|
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
April 1, 1943
Here's one of the most human stories to come out of the Russian war. (I'm not sure about all the details, and I can't confirm it.) It is repeated by a Red Army captain who recently returned from the Smolensk front.
It seems that at one of the liberated villages west of Rzhev there was a little boy named Alyosha. (Alyosha belonged to the Pioneers, a Soviet youth organization which is a kind of Russian combination of the Four-H club and the Boy Scouts of America.)
Alyosha was raising a pet pig named Khrushka when the Germans came to the village. He loved his friend Khrushka and was very much afraid when the Germans started collecting all of the other pigs and cows and chickens in the village to send back to Germany.
When the Germans came to his house to get Khrushka, the boy hid the pig behind the big peasant's stove (that was heating the small house. He told the Germans that Khrushka had run away.)
The Germans finally went away. When Alyosha went to get Khrushka, he found that the pig was dead. You see, peasant stoves are very hot during the Russian winter and Khrushka had suffocated.
Alyosha was very sad and wanted to give his friend Khrushka a fitting burial. (However, he was afraid that the Germans might kill him if they found him with the body of Khrushka after he had lied to them.) So Alyosha got another boy in his village and dug a grave by the side of the road. At night, they carried Khrushka to the grave and carefully buried the pig.
However, both of the boys knew that Germans are very careful about freshly turned earth—they are always looking for hidden parachutes or arms or valuables when they see that something has been buried.
So Alyosha made a rough cross and got a German helmet. On the cross he carefully copied the first German name he could remember. It was Schmidt—or Schwartz—something like that. Alyosha put the cross at the head of his pet pig's grave and placed the German helmet on top of the cross. It looked just like a score of other German roadside graves that dotted the area.
Then the German headquarters moved to the village. The German general stopped to examine the grave and gasped when he read the name. It was the same name as the general's son, who was missing on the front.
The general immediately called his officers and demanded that his son be buried with more honor. He ordered the body be disinterred.
This story ends with the sweating officers digging out the grave, with the German general standing bravely aside, waiting to view the last remains of his son. No one stayed long enough to see what happened when the general discovered that his "son" was the prize pig Khrushka.