Man at war. History of Eberhard von Hanskleden and Semyon Zhurylo

A casual war encounter is described in the materials of German artillery soldier Eberhard von Hanksleden, who in his diary described his stay in the Ivot village and his acquaintance with the family of teacher Semyon Zhurylo. The diary was first published in German in 2006. In 2011, it was published in Minsk in Russian. Organizers of the Family Memory Museum learned about it due to its publication in Belarus. In the spring of 2012, we managed to find the daughter of Semyon Zhurylo, Alla, and his granddaughter, Iryna Budunkova, in Shostka. In the fall of 2012, the descendants of the two families, Alla Arraslanova and Rudiger Hanksleden, met.

Eberhard von Hanksleden was a mathematics teacher at school. In 1940 he was drafted into Wehrmacht. In 1941-1942, he participated in the offensive on the Soviet Union as part of an artillery unit and marched all the way through Belarus, Northern Ukraine, and Russia. He described it all in his diary. Ebergard was lucky: he became ill with diphtheria and went back home to Germany in June 1942. Most of his fellows died under Stalingrad.


Semyon Zhurylo taught physics and mathematics at the Ivot high school. Because of health problems, he was not drafted into the Red Army in the beginning of the war. In September 1941, German gunners spent several weeks in their house.


The exposition presents pages of the diary of Eberhard von Hanksleden, in which he describes his stay in the Ivot village and his acquaintance with the family of teacher Semyon Zhurylo.


“September 27, 1941. Saturday

We got to Shostka. We leave the highway and take the well-paved road that leads to a newly built powder factory that occupies a vast territory. They did not spare anything for their military needs, even though the people look poor and filthy. 16 km later, we find ourselves again on a terrible road. Even riding slowly, you run the risk of flying up to the tent of the car. The sun is shining, we see large herds of cows as we drive to Ivot around 8.00. Other parts of the division have already settled in the village. Continuous roar of guns can be heard from the east.

We find accommodations. This means only one habitable house, all the rest are wretched shacks that are scary to set foot into.


The house where we settled down belongs to the teacher. In front of the house are beautiful asters: red, white and blue, a lot of yellow gillyflowers. And in the garden grow acacia, wild grapes, currants, raspberries, etc. I learn that he is well versed in mathematics. Formulas are the same as ours, same letters, I am impressed with his knowledge. He solves differential equations […]

He studied at an institute in Kiev. As he was counting, he kept one of his children in his lap all the time. He wears boots and a thick worn coat. He is not much different from others, just his house. […]

September 28, 1941. Sunday


Conversation with the teacher: Semyon Zhurylo. The village of Ivot, Sumy region (Hand -written by Semyon’s wife Zinaida)

There is a school in this village. It consists of 16 classes with 620 students and 18 teachers (1940-1941).

Physical education, drawing and singing [are taught] only from 1st to 4th grade. Other subjects: Russian, Ukrainian, German (they are learning to read and write, but they cannot speak or understand), mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, history, biology. Technical drawing and astronomy [are taught] in grade 10.

September 29, 1941. Monday

It’s raining and it’s cold. When we left this village, the teacher with his wife and children went outside to say good-bye to us. I said goodbye, too. He kindly and seriously nodded his head.”