Walking Out of War
Ukraine, 1944: After the Soviets burned the Ukrainian city of Ternopyl to the ground to crush the stubborn Nazi occupiers, they rounded up every remaining Ukrainian man around for the Red Army’s final push on Germany. Maurice Bury, Canadian citizen, Ukrainian resistance fighter and intelligence officer, is thrust once again into the death struggle between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR.
Fighting across the Baltics in the autumn of 1944 is tough and bloody. Then the Red Army enters Germany, where they’re no longer liberators—they’re the long-feared Communist horde, bent on destruction, rape and revenge. The Communists are determined to wipe Nazism from the face of the earth. And the soldiers want revenge for Germany’s brutal invasion and occupation.
Maurice has determined his only way out of this hell is to survive until Nazi Germany dies, and then move home to Canada. But to do that, he’ll have to not only walk out of war, but elude Stalin’s dreaded secret police.
Nastasiv, Ukraine, August 1944
Behind a long table, under a huge portrait of Stalin, sat a commissar. Soldiers brought their captives up to him one by one. He took their names and nodded, and soldiers led each one out to another truck to take them to a training camp.
It was Maurice’s turn. The commissar looked at him carefully. “How old are you?”
There was no point in lying. “Twenty-five.”
“Why aren’t you in the army, then, comrade?”
Maurice could not tell them that he already had been in the army, had been captured and then escaped. Explaining that would lead to summary execution for desertion. “I am a teacher in a rural school, exempt from compulsory service.”
“Not during wartime,” said the captain.
“I am also working on my mother’s farm. I’m the only man in the family.”
“I think you’re a deserter,” said the Commissar.
Behind him, Maurice heard Slawka gasp. “Maurice!” she whispered, and he heard her running away.
“No, comrade commissar!” Maurice protested. “No, I was never called up before the Germans invaded, and after that it was too late—”
“You’re lying,” said the commissar. He only had to look at the NKVD soldiers, and they took Maurice’s arms again.
He heard a clatter and then Slawka ran back into the hall with a short, bald man dressed in a rumpled grey suit and tie: her father, Stepan Husar, the mayor. “Please, help him!” said Slawka.
“What’s wrong, Comrade Commissar?” asked the mayor, a little out of breath.
“Nothing you need concern yourself with, Comrade,” the Commissar sneered. “This is an Army matter.”
“But why have you arrested this man?” Husar’s hair was messed and his tie was crooked. He tried to straighten it, embarrassed under the Commissar’s glare.
“Do you know him?”
“Maurice? Of course I know him. He’s Tekla Kuritsa’s son, he teaches in the ridna shkola, and tutors children—for free.”
“Goddammit, you liar! This man told me himself he was in UPA. Guards, take him out and shoot him.”
Maurice felt cold. His leg began to ache where he had been wounded at Kiev, and he irrationally feared that the pain would give him away—that the Commissar would be able to take it as proof that he had served in the Army.
“I don’t know anything about that,” the mayor said, speaking quickly. “I know he’s a good man, an intelligent man, loyal. He’s never been a nationalist.”
“There is no record of him as a teacher before the war,” said the commissar.
“We destroyed the records three years ago to keep them out of the Germans’ hands,” the Mayor said.
“What about you?” asked the commissar? “Are you a Party member?”
“Show me your membership card.”
“I destroyed it when the Germans came. They would have shot me. I have daughters, comrade commissar.”
The commissar drummed his fingers on the table.
“Listen, please, Commissar,” the mayor continued. “This man is not a nationalist. He’s not in UPA, not a spy. I personally vouch for him.” Maurice wondered how much of his history Husar actually knew.
“Very well. Put him on the train for Donbass.”
This time, there was no time to go home and collect any belongings. Maurice and the other captives were loaded onto a battered, creaking train and were soon on their way east, to another training camp.
This time, Maurice was not an officer, but a private soldier. The Red Army would again send him to fight—and probably die—against Nazi Germany.
Scott Bury can’t stay in one category.
After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”
The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.
Army of Worn Soles, published in 2014, tells the true story of Maurice Bury, a Canadian drafted into the USSR’s Red Army to face the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
Invited to participate in two Kindle Worlds, he published Torn Roots: A Lei Crime Kindle World Novella and Jet – Stealth: A Jet Kindle World Novella. Both came out in July 2015.
In between writing books and blog posts, Scott helped found an author’s cooperative publishing venture, Independent Authors International. He is also President of author’s professional association BestSelling Reads.