I edited this song before Russia invaded Ukraine. It is sad that this is happening because it is precisely the Russians who suffered so much during the German attacks. But I maintain that most Russians are good and that this song does not lose its value.

Russian soldier song from WWII

In the shelter (V zemlyanke/В землянке)

Remarkable: many Russian melodies are about war. Also this number. The translation does not refer to a shelter, but to a ‘dug-out’. It’s not clear to me what it means. Probably ‘shelter’ or especially ‘trench’ is a better translation. A flasmob set up to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of this heroic war inspired me to tap into this song for accordion.

25 maart 2021
door Eduard Bekker

The military song ‘In the Hideout/Shelter’ is a composition from World War II, or the ‘Great Patriotic War,’ as the Soviets call it. Lyricist Alexey Surkov himself experienced it on the front line, felt the danger and longed for his family.

Enemy Tanks

The soldiers of the Ninth Rifle Division were at the command post of a rifle regiment on 27 november 1941 when enemy tanks cut off from the Soviet battalions. The men and war correspondent Surkov took refuge in the trench.

When darkness fell, the commanders decided to break out of the encirclement. Captain I.K. Velichkin crawled to the enemy positions with all available grenades and destroyed them in three houses. So they could retreat to the river and were able to cross the ice to the other side. Despite the mortar fire, they managed to cross the minefield and return to their own safe lines.
Having miraculously escaped from the encirclement and from death, Surkov wrote these lines, which were intended for his wife:

Impressed by what I had experienced that day near Istra, I wrote a letter to my wife, who was living on the Kama at the time. It contained sixteen 'own' lines of poetry, which I had no intention of publishing, let alone passing on to someone to write music.... According to Surkov.


The poem that begins with 'The fire beats in a small stove' would have remained only lines in a letter if the composer Konstantin Listov had not arrived in Moscow in februari 1942 after the evacuation, had not come to the editors-in-chief, nor had he been asked to ‘write a song’.
And then Surkov remembered the lines of poetry he had written at home, found the notebook and gave it to Listov. He ran his gaze over the lines, mumbled something indefinable, and left.

A week later, the composer reappeared in the editorial office, photo reporter Mikhail Savin asked for a guitar and sang his new song, which he called "In de Shelter". All listened with bated breath.

Writer Evgeny Vorobyov and Mikhail Savin then sang it on the editorial board of the “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. The poem appeared in the newspaper on 25 maart 1942.
Then the song went all the way. People really fell in love with it.

However, there were also critics who saw decadent atmospheres in the words 'The fire beats in a cramped stove'. They demanded that the author rewrite the line in “It is not easy for me to reach you, but it takes four steps to die.”
When Surkov refused, a ban was imposed on broadcasting the composition on the radio.
However, it was later undone after outraged letters from the front.

(Translated and edited via Google Translate from

Single voice version (mp3 from midi)

Two voice version (mp3 from midi)

Tweede stem (mp3 from midi)

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