Ina Konstantinova: July 3, 1941

Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, violating the non-aggression pact that these countries had signed almost two years earlier. In her diary, sixteen year-old Ina Konstantinova recorded the impact of this momentous event on her family and community. German forces never advanced as far as Kashin, nevertheless, the war changed everything for Ina. She wrote about her town being placed under martial law and about how her father was mobilized. Most of all, she recorded her desire to be of service to her homeland in defense of the nation.

A few days after the German invasion, Ina joined a voluntary aid detachment. On July 3, she saw her first action. She was summoned to duty to assist in the care of wounded soldiers and civilians from the front. At the end of an exhausting night, she chronicled her experiences. She wrote about the suffering and disorientation of the injured. She also commented on the cheerful mood of the soldiers, in spite of the dire circumstances. She concluded, “No, I could never fully describe what I lived through that night. I was completely tired out. But it didn’t matter!”

Ina found her purpose in life by seeking to be helpful to others. She was completely consumed by her desire to serve her country in the war effort. Before she turned eighteen, she sneaked away from home so that she could fight more directly. She joined the partisans, volunteering to go behind German lines. In her diary, she entered a copy of her apology to her parents. “My dear ones, please forgive me! I know – it was mean on my part to treat you as I did, but it’s better this way: under no circumstances could I have withstood Mama’s tears. Don’t be too upset, don’t feel sorry for me, because my fondest, long-standing wish has come true. I am happy!”

Find out what happened to Ina during the war here

You may read entries from her diary in Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries by Laurel Holliday.

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