Levon Ovanezov – 95 years,at Tower 42,London

Levon Ovanezov Minassian – 96 yrs old

Translated from Bulgarian into English by Stefan Nikolov

In the madness of everyday life, in the immeasurable unawareness, in the cradle of life with the wisdom of the wise man, the truth is like a shadow in a mirror. You see it, and when you try to touch it, you follow the image of your hand. You decide: Is it there or would you just stroke the mirror and overlook another shadow? There is no retreat, no fear! Rationale and combativeness, spirit and faith, love and light. This is deep inside me, in my nature. And even if I run barefoot through the dusty streets, wading in puddles, I recognise the price of diligence, hard work and discipline.

I raise my head high and I see my father’s huge and sturdy figure, who can throw packs of 500 kg. Which is more powerful, his mind or his physique, or might it be both? When will I reach him, I want to grow up — thought the little curly-haired boy, with brown-green eyes, thirsty for knowledge!

The streets around the port were muddy, the crowd was dispersing slowly, until the whistle of the policemen startled them. The newly arrived refugees were looking for those awaiting their arrival, and those who did not have any were worried and followed their intuition. The stress and the experience made them vulnerable and somehow childishly trusting. Ten years have passed since the arrival of my parents, but they seemed to be merging with the new crowd of refugees. They wore the same clothes, spoke the same language, had the same pain… (and as if their eyes …)

I sold chocolates with lucky tickets, newspapers, read the news, went to school. The days were long, the nights, short. On the table in the evening, while listening to my mother’s prayers, I barely restrained my hands and reached for the bread. Boredom was rare, as my sisters, one by one, recounted what happened at school, recited, sung… When I heard,Armenians, wretched exiles, tiny splinter …” my eldest sister was reading it with such excitement — I grabbed the small book from her hands and I did spell! — Ya-vo-rov… I remembered that name and the powerful words of his ‘Armenians’… I remembered them all my life. We studied in Armenian school in the centre of town. Once in a history lesson, I was not paying attention and felt the long stick on my arm and the firm eyes of Baron Shamalian. My heart was beating fast, I stood up and I did not know what to answer, but I recited ‘Armenians’ by Yavorov and like that I saved myself from detention. The eyes of Baron Shamalian were looking at me with lots of love and even a slight smile crept across the teacher’s face.

— Levon, I congratulate you for that you have learned the whole poem by heart. This time you outwit me, but you had to pay attention in my lessons and learn history…

I helped my parents and I left some time for my homework. What I learned in lessons was my whole preparation. My father sent me to learn craft.

I started as a junior welder, I learned from the best one in the city. Intertwining were hard work and ideas, friends and family, reality and dreams. I was sixteen now and I welded on a big German ship, where I intentionally caused a fire…

The gun was next to my chest and the cold blue eyes of the German were looking fiercely and threatening:

—Can you not read, what are you doing here? Who set it on fire?

I answered him with “Heil Hitler” and looked at him cold-blooded, and trembling next to him for both of us was the Bulgarian chief of ship repairs:

-He does not know how to read German, he is not guilty! He is a welder…

This is how I got rid of him, saved my skin. But of course I was not innocent, I was a member of the Scouts group and this fire on the ship was our goal …

Levon Ovanezov Minassian – 96 yrs old

I entered the barracks. I served in the “Eighth Primorsky” Regiment. The cruel laws, the fascist presence even more clearly defined my worldview and my hatred of the supporters of fascist Germany. Our country quickly changed the direction of its policy and I joined the ranks of volunteer soldiers, marching with them to the Front. I heard my father’s stern voice and his heavy hand grabbed me:

— You should have told us, that you are departing for the Front. Remember — in battle, do not run backwards, never run backwards, my boy…

The words of my father saved me from the tracer cartridges (red bullets), when I was left alone in front of the German bunker in the town of Niš. I felt my friends moving away, but I was too close to the Germans, I could even hear them. I dug myself in and awaited, until I threw the smoke bomb, so I could move away. A piece of the grenade caught me, which I will carry until my last day — it got stuck in my face. On my way I dragged a wounded soldier and that is how both of us reached the hospital in the town of Pirot.

We won! I returned in our beautiful town of Varna and I watched the sea, which also took away the victims of the cruel authority. And now on my dignified — over ninety years of age I have paid homage to these heroes(three of them Armenians and my friends), to whom I dedicated my book ‘Nine sad waves reach the shore’…

But let me be a youth again, a youngster in my stories…

I liked sport, I liked to swim, I trained to box and the boyish antics did not pass me by. I wanted to be strong like my father, proud and strong-willed like him. I knew he was a FEDAIN and had twenty-five horsemen under his command. He often told me:

Sit down, write! I have a lot to tell…

But I kept procrastinating in that and the next hectic daily life — not to miss a meeting, not to miss a match… I got excited to study… I managed to learn Bulgarian perfectly, to improve my German. I also learned Russian, not from anyone, but from the great Moshnikov, but it was not enough for me.

I continued with my education and in addition to mathematics and economics, I got intrigued by philosophy, logic, politics. The loss of the person dearest to my heart — my beautiful mother, put enormous weight and responsibility on my shoulders as the eldest son, the brother in the family. I grew up! I started competing with my father. Like him, I saw the horror of war, the cruelty of extreme thinking, the hard-hearted ‘justice.’ His practise and experience was about to be erased, about to be covered up, to be replaced by the horror of the Second World War, by my memory.

But they cannot be replaced, they should not be repeated… And now I need the stick of Baron Shamalian — the genius historian — to hit us on our arms, to teach us the truth, to scare us, to remember!

The years passed by… And the wars changed — they became more modern, some even with a global character, but their ferocity remained unchanged. The people also changed, countries were falling apart, governments were becoming corrupt.

But we, the people of the Immortal Regiment yet still carry the scar of the war!

The suffering of millions, in memory of the perished…



  1. This is incredible story of a very brave,wise and a genuine person.
    We should be proud that we knew him personally and to follow his ideas.
    Very captivating read and amazing style of writing.


  2. I had the honor to meet him. He was both impressive and approachable. He had a beautiful smile and a good heart. Extraordinary encounter. Extraordinary life. Extraordinary testimony of faith.

    Liked by 1 person

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