The War

Commercially minded Maria Ignatyevna placed on the window of the Letuns’ flat looking into the street the advertising: “Gorąca herbata. Ciastka”. The sale happened straight from the window. The local people willingly used the proposed service. The announcement was written in Polish which was then the most common language in the city. The Letuns did not make cakes and cookies themselves. Marya Ignatyevna ordered everything in the small bakery located in the courtyard of the magistrate in Dombrovsky Street (Sovetskaya). Zhenya delivered the pastry, having adapted a small cart for this purpose.

At that time, the most popular and demanded commodity was vodka. Under the threat of execution, trading vodka was prohibited by the occupation authorities. In spite of this, the illegal trade of alcohol was a lucrative business and people took a risk. Vodka could ruin lives and it could also save them. For a bottle of vodka, one could be shot, and the same bottle of vodka could buy some one’s forgiveness. Vodka stood in the top place as a bribe. Despite the slogan “Ordnung muss sein!” (“Order should be”) and draconian ways of its implementation, the Germans turned out to be desperate bribe-takers. Many problems were solved by simple tributes. Therefore, the residents of Brest figured out to stock up, just in case, one or two bottles of vodka. Purchase and sale took place under safe conditions, only in the close circle of acquaintances and reliable people. There were also a few bottles of vodka stored in the hidden corners of the Letuns’ flat…

Translated from Russian by Leo Levine and Sofia Levine