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Zemlyanka was the name for a German-Soviet War song written by Alexey Surkov (verses) and Konstantin Listov (music) in 1941 during the Battle of Moscow. The use of zemlyankas by soldiers is mentioned in the song.

English Lyrics[]

The fire is flickering in the narrow stove
Resin oozes from the log like a tear
And the concertina in the bunker
Sings to me of your smile and eyes.
The bushes whispered to me about you
In a snow-white field near Moscow
I want you above all to hear
How sad my living voice is.
You are now very far away
Expanses of snow lie between us
It is so hard for me to come to you
And here there are four steps to death.
Sing concertina, in defiance of the snowstorm.
Call out to that happiness which has lost its way.
I'm warm in the cold bunker,
Because of your inextinguishable love.
(Stalingrad by Antony Beevor (c)1998.

Popular culture[]

The entire poem was mentioned in the Canadian historical novel, Four Steps to Death, by John Wilson, in which Red Army soldiers sing it on the way from Moscow to Stalingrad (present-day Volgograd). In fact, the name of the novel is derived from a part of the last line of the poem, "And here there are four steps to death."

The song is part of the repertoire of the Alexandrov Ensemble.

See also[]

  • Four Steps to Death


  • Wilson, John. Four Steps to Death. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2005.

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