Despite war preparations throughout the Soviet society, Nazi Germany’s attack on the USSR was absolutely unexpected for the Soviet people. This was described in the memoirs of Nadia Naumova (Chernyavskaya), the wife of Mikhail Naumov, chief of staff of the NKVD Border Guard Unit in Skole, future well-known partisan commander. At the time, she was pregnant and came to visit Shostka’s relatives for the summer.
“Sergei was called earlier than usual and summoned at the factory immediately.
Ten in the morning. Sergei came in and immediately shouted:
– Why didn’t you cover the windows?! Do it now! Do you hear me? Glue paper stripes crosswise! Cut the stripes from newspapers!
At ten to twelve Sergei said, “Turn on the radio and come here.” We looked surprised. The clock hits twelve. And we hear a voice… I feel my eyes widen. I forgot what I wanted to say. “War, war! Enemy troops invaded our land!…
Alisa cried and ran out of the room. Everyone was looking at me. Why are they looking this way? Why me? Misha!…
– Where is he, Misha! Why is there no telegram?!
– Calm down, – Mom says, – you can’t worry, there is no war. It’s some kind of a mistake…
– No, I say, – it is war! Misha felt it, he told me when I was leaving. He didn’t want to let me go. Where is he? What’s wrong with him?”
Orders at Plant #9 presented a set of organizational measures to ensure the Soviet power in Shostka. The city was declared under martial law, a curfew was introduced from 10 pm. All non-permanent residents of Shostka were banned from entering the city. Men were drafted, skilled workers at local factories were often given a delay (Stepan Potebni’s document). Families receive first reports of deaths in the Red Army, but in most cases, relatives had no information from their soldier relatives.
Four months into the war, Nadia Naumova received a notification that her husband went missing. It was terrible news. Neither a widow nor the wife of an officer, only 285 rubles of pension and a baby in her arms. If it wasn’t for the help of her sister and brother-in-law, she probably wouldn’t have survived. And there were several million soldier-wives like her even at the beginning of the war.
Nadia was lucky in being able to evacuate with the workers of plant No. 53 to Nizhny Lomov. Most of the Shostka residents were forced to stay under the German occupation.