Nights in the trenches, rusks, tinned food, vodka, shell shock, injuries, death, courage, duty - stories from the Great Fatherland War often share the same horrific details. All those lucky enough to have survived (around 11 million Russian soldiers died) have been praised with medals, orders, honorary badges, and certificates of merit.
And all of those who came back, without exception, say: "For Heaven's sake, don't turn me into a hero. I was an ordinary participant in the war." The insignia are sewn onto their uniforms or kept in a shoe box wrapped in polyethylene somewhere at the bottom of a cupboard - a family heirloom that only sees the light of day on special occasions. For instance, on May 9, to attend a military parade, although for many it is too painful to remember the war.
It is not the done thing to wear awards in everyday life. But behind each of these awards is a story of someone's life or death, of incredible bravery, and the worst of memories. RBTH asked two participants in the war what they recall when they look at their medals.