UZBEK PEOPLE’S COURAGE DURING THE WORLD WAR II IS UNIQUE

Kutbiddin BURHONOV,

Chairman of the Defense and  Security Affairs Committee of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis

The courage of our people during the World War II and their contribution to the victory over fascism is unprecedented. This is well known and acknowledged by the whole world today. Many of our ancestors sacrificed their lives on this path and some of them returned home as heroes. Likewise, many of our grandfathers and grandmothers worked in conditions no worse than those at the front.

In this sense, it is our duty and commitment to cherish the indelible memory of these compatriots and pay tribute to their pure souls. Finally, we must never forget the courage of our brave grandfathers, who set an example of indomitable will and courage to ensure the purity of our bright and clear skies today and sacrificed their lives for the Motherland.

As our compatriots who lived through the hardships of the war recall, at the time there was little thought of the need to protect the Soviet regime. On the contrary, the majority of our people condemned the authoritarian regime. Our people had not forgotten that the autonomy of Turkestan had been soaked in blood, that the independence movement had been violently suppressed and that they had been persecuted for their religious beliefs. Moreover, the crimes committed as a result of the “Stalinist” mass violence and the wounds left by the mass repressions of the autocratic regime have not yet healed. Nevertheless, the strong hatred of our people against fascism pushed the sorrow caused by the autocratic regime to the background and they marched against the enemy.

It is worth mentioning that in the new Uzbekistan, under the direct leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, huge efforts are being undertaken to preserve the sacred memory of our people, who during the World War II showed a high example of humanity, such as courage and strength, kindness and benevolence.

First of all, on the initiative of the Uzbek Leader, a new era in the history of our country literally dawned during the World War II. For instance, until 2020, when the war started, the population of our country was 6 million 551 thousand people, and it was believed that about 1 million 500 thousand of them joined the war. But when the world archives were studied and the newly discovered information was analyzed, it turned out that about 1 million 951 thousand people from Uzbekistan were mobilized for the war. This means that every third Uzbek took up arms and fought against fascism. Indeed, the names and fate of 451 thousand of our compatriots have been neglected for so many years.

Moreover, it was previously claimed that 396,000 Uzbek citizens perished in the war. In fact, there were more than 538,000 deaths and more than 158,000 missing.

While mourning for those who returned from the war, the suffering of the relatives of the missing soldiers was even harder. They suffered and wept for their missing soldier sons, husbands and fathers.

The fate of 101 missing soldiers was particularly different. They were captured on the outskirts of Smolensk in the first weeks of the war in 1941 and sent to the Nazi-occupied Netherlands for propaganda purposes.

For the first three days, the Uzbeks were kept in the camp without food, in the open air, in an area surrounded by a fence. The aim was to film people eating each other’s flesh for bread and use it as a propaganda tool. But 101 of our compatriots will destroy this Nazi plan. Instead of killing each other for bread, as the Germans expected, they supported each other, even though they had not tasted salt for three days.

In fact, 24 of these tenacious soldiers starved to death before the harsh winter of 1941, and the remaining 77 were shot on April 9, 1942.

Scientific research has clarified the number of Uzbek representatives who were awarded orders and medals. Previously, this indicator was recorded as 120 thousand people. According to the new data, more than 200 thousand of our servicemen and officers were awarded with the state military medals during the World War II.

In this context, it is worth mentioning the courage of an Uzbek man who became a hero of the Soviet Union during the World War II.

The fact is that the crossing of the Dnieper River near the village of Dashkovka in the Mogilev district of Belarus was of particular significance as the most important operation that determined the life and death of the 385th Rifle Division based there. Uzbek child Shodi Shoimov was one of the first to take the initiative with a special group.

The water level was clearly visible to the enemy on the other side of the river, and it was clear that they would wipe out the attackers. Nevertheless, Shodi Shoimov and his group managed to swim to the other side amidst a hail of bullets from the enemy.

The Uzbek son faced the fascist, fought at close range and threw himself into the trench of the invaders. In close combat with the enemy, the Uzbek child, a wrestler, killed 13 fascists. On June 27, 1944, an enemy settlement based on the right bank of the Dnieper was crushed. The soldiers of the division were relieved to cross the Dnieper. However, Sh. Shoimov was seriously wounded in a fierce hand-to-hand fight with the enemy and died of his wounds the next day, on June 28. He was only 18 years old at that moment…

Remarkably, he became a hero of the Soviet Union at the age of 18. The photo of his sister Tilovat will be used to restore the bust of Shodi Shoimov, the son of Uzbek, who did not leave a single photo of himself, but whose courage was immortalized. Today the photo is kept in a museum in Dashkovka, Belarus.

Also worthy of special recognition are the heroism of Kuchkor Turdiev, General Sobir Rahimov, Zebo Ganieva, Mamadali Topivoldiev, Ahmadjon Shukurov, and many other compatriots who became heroes of the Soviet Union at the age of 24.

Women also actively participated in direct combat actions during World War II. The State Defense Committee had made several decisions from the early days of the war regarding the involvement of women in the war effort. While initially voluntary, it is known that from the spring of 1942, a decision was made to mobilize women on a large scale within the ranks of the army.

A total of 4,555 women from Uzbekistan participated in the war, serving as communicators, pilots, snipers, anti-aircraft personnel, medical officers, and intelligence officers.

One of the most challenging tasks during the initial period of the war was the military management of the economy. This responsibility had to be addressed when the Nazis occupied an area of the USSR where nearly 40% of the population resided, 63% of coal was mined, 50% of steel was produced, and 38% of the grain was harvested. Moreover, this area housed most of the defense enterprises.

As a result, Uzbekistan became one of the crucial base centers for supplying a significant amount of military equipment, weapons, medicines, clothing, and food to the war zones. Manufacturing enterprises were reorganized for military purposes, and approximately 300 production facilities of that time produced military products with the selfless work of our multinational people. Additionally, during the same period, 151 factories were relocated from the front lines to our country and rapidly put into operation. The population worked tirelessly around the clock, demonstrating remarkable heroism.

Starting from June 26, 1941, the country imposed mandatory overtime labor on workers and employees, adopting a six-day workweek with 11-hour workdays for seniors, and eliminating holidays. Office servants, housewives, and students were also involved in production. In 1940, the proportion of women among industrial workers was 34 percent, but by 1942, this figure had risen to 63.5 percent.

These contributions highlight the significant role played by the Uzbek people in achieving victory.

Furthermore, funds raised in Uzbekistan were used to construct dozens of military aircraft, tanks, and combat vehicles. From 1941 to 1945, the country transformed into a large-scale hospital, where thousands of fighters received treatment and were able to return to the frontlines.

The compassion and tolerance of the Uzbek people were demonstrated during these challenging times. The population provided shelter to nearly 1.5 million people who were displaced from war-ravaged regions, separated from their homes, parents, and relatives. Among them, over 250,000 were children. Many Uzbek families adopted two or more orphans, with families like the Shomahmudovs (14 children), Samadovs (12 children), Juraevs, and Ashurkhujaevs (each with 8 children) stepping forward to provide care and upbringing. They shared their last piece of bread with them.

Additionally, around 200 writers and poets from different nationalities, who were from enemy-occupied territories in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, moved to Tashkent and continued their creative endeavors.

These numbers and stories are not just statistics; they serve as a reminder to never forget the consequences of a devastating war. As we enjoy today’s peaceful and beautiful life, it is vital to remain vigilant and aware, and to instill in younger generations a sense of loyalty to their Motherland.

By the decision of our President on October 23, 2019, titled “On the Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in World War II,” the “Garden of Victory” was established in the Almazar District of Tashkent. The main purpose of this initiative is to educate our youth about the importance of respecting our ancestors, fostering love for our nation, instilling an appreciation for the historical significance of our land, and upholding the longstanding traditions of our people, such as kindness and generosity. It all starts with a deep devotion to the memory of our ancestors.

The “Garden of Victory” is an unparalelled complex that honors the heroism of our people and celebrates their immeasurable value.

As time passes, and decades go by, these noble deeds, undertaken with consideration for the demands of life itself, while glorifying the qualities of humanity, will never be forgotten. They serve to preserve the names and legacy of our ancestors who dedicated themselves to serving our people and our land.

In recent years, significant attention has been given to caring for the well-being of every participant of the World War II in our country. Each of them receives various forms of material, spiritual, and other types of assistance. This is a clear example of the deep reverence shown towards the courage of our people in the new Uzbekistan. It also serves as a reminder for us to draw the right conclusions from the past, to remain vigilant and attentive, and to live our lives guided by the lessons passed down by our ancestors.

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