Vladimir Aronovich Barkon was born on May 24, 1925, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. The city was bombed in the first days after war broke out; his father was already at the front, and Barkon and his mother evacuated. Separated from his mother during the harrowing journey, completely alone, suffering from illness and hunger, Barkon reached Uzbekistan. He was then mobilized into the labor army and sent to an airplane construction factory in Kemerovo Oblast, southwestern Siberia. In January 1942, at the age of sixteen and a half, Vladimir was drafted into the military and sent first to artillery and then to infantry schools. In September 1942, he was deployed to the front as a unit commander at the Battle of Stalingrad. Afterwards, Barkon fought in artillery forces in the Battle of Kursk and in battles in Ukraine, participated in Dniester and Vistula River crossings, celebrated Germany’s capitulation in Dresden and Japan’s surrender in Port Arthur. Wounded four times during the war, Barkon was awarded the medal “For Courage” and the Order of the Patriotic War. Demobilized in 1947, Barkon was assigned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and completed law school in absentia. In 1991 Barkon emigrated to the United States. The interview was recorded on March 9, 2009, in Los Angeles, CA.

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The start of war and the lonely, harrowing journey for survival.

An annihilated artillery battery and the utter hell of the Battle of Kursk.

A miracle reunion in southwestern Siberia’s labor army.