Ichiro Sudai, Takayama, Japan
“I was in a kamikaze squadron, but the war finished before I was deployed. Kamikaze pilots would have farewell parties to drink sake. By the end of the war, we didn’t even have sake, only water. They didn’t return the bones of the kamikaze pilots to their families. So we cut our hair and nails and put them in an envelope with a message for our families. I wasn’t afraid to die. If I did, it would be my destiny as a pilot. Everyone was brainwashed then. After the war, I lived for my hobbies. I wrote poetry, grew flowers and ran a lot. I still have a very strong body."
Ukrainian photographer Sasha Maslov's series Veterans consists of portraits of people who took part in the second world war. Maslov says via the project description on his website,
"WWII is the one event in human history that could not - and still cannot - be compared with any other event on the scale of catastrophe, human tragedy, and the degree of impact on the future of our civilization. Every single person who participated in the war, whether they were a soldier or a general, prisoner or a guard, medical worker or an engineer, took part in shaping the image of the world as it is seen and perceived today."
See the rest of Maslov's series here; click on the subject's name to read the captions containing their stories. The amazing stories alone are worth attention — they are full of horrors, tragedies and hardships that, thankfully, we have been spared.
Via Design You Trust | Captions and Images: Sasha Maslov
Ken Smith, Portsmouth, England
“I got a bullet in the arm in 1944 when I was a sniper. It’s still there now. We had climbed a mountain on the island of Lusin to blow the place up, but the Germans were waiting and opened fire. I knew I’d been hit; my hand was all sticky. Later, we discovered a German in the bushes. I slung him on my shoulder. Then I heard a bang in my ear – he’d shot himself. I heard his gun drop and thought, “I’m going to have a souvenir”. We paddled back to our ship, and I was bleeding a lot. But then I saw all these badly wounded chaps. I wasn’t a serious case.”
Anna Nho, Almaty, Kazakhstan
“In 1937, lots of Korean families were deported from the USSR. Mine was moved from Vladivostok to Kazakhstan. We lived in tents; it was so cold someone died every day. My uncle couldn’t take it, so he walked to Moscow to see Stalin. They’d met before. We all thought he died, but he made it. He dressed as a homeless man to get into the Kremlin. Finally, he got in – and Stalin remembered him. Stalin sent him to help people grow rice in Caucasus. Later, we saw in the paper that he was looking for us, so we went to join him.”