My opinion: Sanctity often is found in surprising places. They seem most humble and mundane…
Yet, here, World War II turned on its hinges, permanently opening the door to Allied victory. That’s according to the foremost English-language writer and scholar* on the Nazi/Soviet war.*
The firefight here that won the war was a “small” one: platoon-level action that lasted probably less than an hour. In other words, in a brief timespan at a seemingly-mundane place, a few people made a difference global and for the good.
The result of the firefight here led indirectly but quickly to the Nazis’ first strategic defeat. And that defeat was massive: more than a quarter-million Nazi soldiers captured, including their commander, a field marshal.
Until this battle, Nazis were accustomed to– and so presumed– victory. This was especially true in this war against these “untermenschen” Russians.
So, of course, to say the least, to those captured, the struggle leading only to defeat, plus the defeat, were shocking, disillusioning, terrifying, bloody, and often fatal.
Outside the scope of the scope of the victors and the vanquished, moreover, a few Nazis calculated, and others clandestinely discovered, the depth and breadth of this defeat. Many of them, too, were shocked, disillusioned, and scared. Some of these latter at least began to correctly-conclude the war was lost.
This was accurate realism, not defeatism.
The realists dared not show their deep misgivings, however, under the boot-heel of a totalitarian regime like the Third Reich.
So I made a pilgrimage to this “mundane” place of courage, honor, perseverance, expertise, massive potential successfully and completely realized, and…blood. That’s a memorial stone I had prepared long before. I worked as I was capable to place the memorial deep in the surrounding reeds.
That’s because the qualities and cost necessary for victory, mentioned above, are, in my opinion, immortal. So, somewhat likewise and in my own minuscule way, I hid my stone because I don’t want it discovered and removed anytime soon.
Mr. Clark’s description of the firefight at the western end of the Kalach bridge is more detailed– yet concise– and much-more engaging than mine. I recommend it.
© Landis McGauhey