World / War heroes

Tributes paid to the 'angel of peace'

By ZHOU HUIYING (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-06 08:07

Border city honors the Chinese-Russian girl who sacrificed herself

Tributes paid to the 'angel of peace'

Four residents from Vladivostok in Russia - all of whom experienced World War II in childhood - present memorials to Galiya Vasilievna Dubieva on April 26. Vladivostok borders Suifenhe, Heilongjiang province. Provided to China Daily

A Chinese-Russian girl born in 1928 in Suifenhe, a border city in Heilongjiang province, was named Galiya Vasilievna Dubieva.

But to the people of that city she is known as "The Angel of Friendship and Peace" for her bravery and ultimate sacrifice during the closing days of World War II.

Local archives record her as the daughter of local resident Zhang Huanxin and say she "sacrificed her life after traveling to the base to persuade the Japanese to surrender".

In August 1945, the Soviet Union's Red Army joined Chinese military forces to drive out Japan's Imperial Army.

After taking Suifenhe on Aug 9, an all-out attack forced about 300 Japanese soldiers, 200 collaborating Chinese policemen and 150 of their family members to withdraw to a garrison on nearby Tianchang Mountain.

To reduce injury to noncombatants, the Soviet Red Army, instead of launching an attack with artillery, decided to send a special envoy to the base to persuade the Japanese to surrender.

On Aug 11, Galiya was selected as the interpreter and special envoy after an interview with the Soviet commander.

Zhang Shulie, Galiya's younger brother, said in a 2003 interview that on Aug 11, 1945, Soviet Red Army soldiers called the family to register at its headquarters.

"A Red Army official asked, 'Who speaks good Japanese?' and Galiya was recommended," he recalled.

At the time, 17-year-old Galiya was quite well-known in the city because of her fluency in Russian and Japanese.

"Galiya told mother that she would calmly persuade the Japanese to surrender, but my mother couldn't help weeping," said Zhang. "We all knew how dangerous the trip would be. Mother took off a new red kerchief from her head and placed it on my sister's shoulders."

In Russia, it is believed that a new kerchief can bring people good luck.

"Galiya kissed mother on the forehead and told her not to worry; she would return soon after the negotiations," said Zhang. "But she never came back."

On Aug 12, a party led by Soviet officer Fedorchenko Stepan Zakharevich arrived at the garrison.

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