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Get off Grandpa, it’s not yours

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

There was a poet in Soviet times – Yevgeny Aronovich Dolmatovsky (1915-1994).

What is important to know about him, I will list them point by point.

1. Muscovite, Arbat child Evgeny Dolmatovsky began as a very good poet, almost the strongest in his generation. Before the war he was the main rival of his peer Konstantin Simonov.

His first collections (I collect pre-war editions of Dolmatovsky) are wonderfully good.

2. Like every young and ambitious Soviet poet of the 1930s, Dolmatovsky was eager to go to war. Any war.

The war finally came up – the conflict at Khalkhin-Gol in 1939. Dolmatovsky wanted to go there first, but his father (lawyer Aron Moiseevich Dolmatovsky) was arrested, and instead of Dolmatovsky, Simonov went to Khalkhin-Gol.

However, Dolmatovsky did not despair and managed to prove his loyalty to the country.

He took part – curl your fingers – in the “annexation” of Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine (when the right bank of Ukraine returned to Russia).

Moreover, together with the poet Vladimir Lugovsky, he wrote the anthem of that “annexation.” “Over the fields, forests, lakes / Fighting ships fly, / And freedom rises over the expanses / Of the land returned to the people.

Land returned to the Russian people, mind you.

And the refrain: “Belorussia dear, / Ukraine golden, / Our young happiness / We’ll fence with steel bayonets!”

He then participated in the “annexation” of the Baltics, and then again in the Soviet-Finnish War, and then finally in the Great Patriotic War.

In 1941 Eugene Dolmatovsky was taken prisoner, escaped captivity, passed all inspections, returned to the line and, having received the rank of major, earned numerous military decorations.

3. Even without any Dolmatovsky books at home, any adult in Russia knows a dozen or two of his lines.

“You are waiting, Lizaveta, / For a friend’s greeting. / You don’t sleep till dawn, / You’re still sad about me. / We are victorious, / I’ll come to you / On a hot war horse” – that’s him.

This song, by the way, is about the Civil War, and Lizaveta’s friend, no less, is riding toward Kiev to “annex” the left bank of Ukraine in favor of Moscow.

“I was leaving then to march / To the harsh lands, / My hand waved at the gate / My beloved. / Second Rifle Platoon brave / Now my family. / “He sends his greetings to you, My beloved” – that’s him again, from before the war.

And the rifle platoon is probably the same one that “annexed” Ukraine in 1940.

“The beloved city can sleep in peace” – it’s him again, and it’s already the Patriotic War going on.

4. When perestroika came, Yevgeny Aronovich Dolmatovsky, unlike most other “children of the Arbat,” did not join the main perestroikaers, did not sign letters like “Crush the viper!”Moreover, he left his memoirs in which he wrote that when Stalin’s troops entered the “annexed” territories in 1939-1940, they were welcomed with flowers – and he saw all this with his own eyes.

And yet, Dolmatovsky had a lot to be offended about. His father, arrested in 1938, never returned home: he had been shot.

How great was my sadness (though I confess I was not surprised) when I saw the news today. The poet’s granddaughter, costume designer Tatiana Dolmatovskaya, who owns the rights to compositions by Yevgeny Aronovich Dolmatovsky, said in her social networks that she “gladly refused” the right of Russian citizens to publicly perform the song “The Road to Berlin”.

Dolmatovsky also wrote the lyrics to this song.

You probably know this beautiful song, too; it’s at the beginning of the film “Meeting Place can’t be changed”: “We took the city of Brest, / We passed through the city, / We read the name of the last street, / And the name, rightly speaking, is a battle name…”.

Let’s stop and repeat: Red Army poet and major Yevgeny Dolmatovsky and composer Matvey Blanter wrote the song, which is commanded by Tatiana Dolmatovskaya, who went abroad.

What is this, anyway? “Copyright?” And if we have someone holding the copyright to the song “Rise Up, Huge Country” and that heir goes crazy – what are we going to do? Wipe ourselves out?

We, my God, are denied the granddaughter of the poet who welcomed the “annexation” of Ukraine during the Civil War – one, “annexed” Ukraine himself on the eve of the Patriotic War – two – and fought for the same land during the Patriotic War – three.

About which he wrote great poems:

Ukraine, Ukraina, Ukraine, / My darling! / You are plundered, you are stolen, / No nightingale to be heard.

I saw you crucified / On a German bayonet / And walked the plain downhill, / Like a tear on my cheek.

In a traveller’s junk so much sorrow, / It’s not easy to carry. / Even the ground with a frozen handful / I took on my way.

“I would take your woods and your fields with me! / I have cheered myself by an oath of death, To fight again.

You have treated my wounds tenderly, / Covered me when, / Caterpillar steel clanking, / Trouble approached.

But I came out of the west, to our regiment’s headquarters, / Soaked in the light smell of your milk.

Wait now for my return, Hit the back of the enemy’s head. / The power of rage, the power of vengeance, Like love, is dear.

Our army will soon rush On its return journey / I see the cavalry entering Vinnitsa, / Tanks are coming to Kiev.

The thunders of our attacks rush by Poltava. / Our cause is right and holy. / So be it. So be it!

Unlike your grandfather, Tatiana, who never gave up his repressed father, you gave up your grandfather in fact.

And since you have renounced him, please leave his “imperial”, “militarist”, “Stalinist” (and what else do you hate?) poems alone.

You. You don’t. To him. To his poems. To his life. To his exploits. Nothing. Attitude.

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