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The Russian Patriot: A Red Army Soldier's Service for his Motherland and against Bolshevisim - Book Review

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by Alison Muirhead (subscribe)
Doting grandmother and grey nomad who should join Volunteers Anonymous and is greatly in favour of a ten day week. So much to do, so little time.
Published October 20th 2012
Traitor or Patriot? A Young Russian Soldier's Dilemma
The original title of this autobiographical account of a Russian's experiences in World War 2 was Zigzags of my Destiny, self-published by Sigismund Diczbalis in1996 and dedicated to his wife, children and grandchildren.

Traitors or Patriots? Debatable moments of WW2 - Russian Liberation Army in 1945 was the next version which this reviewer had the privilege of editing. This was published by the Faculty of Philology, St Petersburg State University in 2007.

The third verson published by Spellmount in 2008 may be a slim volume, but it is crammed with a wealth of adventure and poignant moments, originally destined for the author's family's eyes only. Such a story needed a wider audience, in the vain hope that civilisation would learn from history.

It is many years since the events of this story took place, but this reviewer feels that, for the author, they happened only yesterday. This has not resulted in a maudlin reminiscence, but an extremely descriptive narrative of the fortunes of a Russian prisoner of war.

And they can only be described as fortunes, as Sigismund was, until his death last year, a soldier as well as a civilian who made his own luck. He knew his strengths and put them to good use, in many instances to the benefit of his captors, hence the title of the second version.

Because of the distance between the happenings and the writing of these memoirs, some errors of fact have occurred. The author admitted this, but in putting down his thoughts on paper and in his web site, he drew out a number of his comrades and serious students of history who contributed to various editions of the story. It is most fortunate that many people who experienced this period of history are still alive to tell the tale.

This is a warts and all story which admits to failures and failings as well as successes in a slice of life which would have broken many a man in a similar situation. It is the only personal memoir of a lowly Russian soldier to be printed in English.

Sig was a dedicated communist until war intervened. As a prisoner of the Germans he avoided certain death by becoming a spy dedicated to toppling Stalin. Eventually captured by SMERSH, the Soviet spy-hunters, he made a dramatic escape.

Although the author's new life in Australia did not throw up similar challenges, this reviewer feels that Sig Diczbalis died with yet another memoir in him.

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Why? To flesh out one's understanding of the European theatre of war in World War 2
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