Story of a Real Man

iilyshun-II Stomoviks

Ilyshun-II Stormovik

Post World War II, veterans came home to a bleak reality. The economy was in ruins which meant there was no work available. Veterans numbered almost 11 million by the end of the war, with the Army discharging 8.5 million veterans, many regions of the Soviet Union saw unemployment rise to almost 50%.

The Story of a Real Man by Boris Polevoi is a story about a russian pilot in World War II that gets shot down and injured and has to limp back to base. It uses imagery to show the reality of veterans after World War II. In it the pilot finds himself walking through the aftermath of a battle in the Black Forest. I find this a metaphor showing veterans’ reality in the Soviet Union after the war, they are unemployed, some injured with no help from the government. According to 17 Moments “the Soviet Army demobilized 8.5 million veterans over the next three years, starting with the oldest, … An economy in ruins had little work for them, and in many regions unemployment reached fifty percent, … veterans had nowhere to live, and moved into zemlianki, huts dug into the earth, which they might have remembered from the front”  (Von Geldern).  This story resonated with me because it, combined with the piece from 17 moments, shows strong imagery of veterans’ reality post war.


Von Geldern, J. (2015, October 07). Veteran’s Return. Retrieved November 4, 2018,                            from


7 thoughts on “Story of a Real Man

  1. I never considered the mass unemployment that followed following the war. Obviously it makes sense if your employer is the Army, and then there suddenly is no need for the massive military force.


  2. Nice Post! I did the same story. 50% unemployment in some areas is absolutely crazy. This story is based off of true events as well. Did you pick up any socialist realism aspects in the story?


  3. Great post! It is interesting that the Russian veterans suffered through such atrocious living conditions after the war yet they were held in such high regard by the government. I feel that dealing with veterans after wars is a persistent problem that the US also still struggles with.


  4. This is super interesting! During this era, how did the high levels of unemployment affect the overall society? Did the government address the issue at all, even if it was unhelpful in its resolve?


  5. Good post, i think it is interesting that this is still a problem following major wars. And it is surprising that the WW2 veterans in Russian didn’t try to do something against the soviets as a result of their anger.


  6. But isn’t the main point of “Story of a Real Man” that disabled veterans were heroes who could be re-incorporated into civilian life? (compare this with “Cavalier of the Golden Cross”).


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