‘Vasili Tyorkin’ is one of the great epic poems of the Second World War. Published in army newspapers and broadcast on the radio between 1942 and 1945, it was hugely popular with Soviet soldiers, many of whom believed it was about a real person was real. Private Tyorkin is an accordion-playing Everyman figure, who moves between comedy and reluctant heroism. He is a cheerful grumbler always on the lookout for food and a quick kip, happy to share his last tobacco with his comrades, hating the War but determined to fight the Nazis all the way to Berlin.
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