On the early morning of August 6 1915, the German offensive against the Russian fortress of Osowiec began with a wicked trick against humanity – a gas attack. The defenders refused to yield even after one of the most brutal artillery bombardments in history, but even when the fortress itself was reduced to rubble, the surviving Russian soldiers used stones and craters for protection. German generals fancied that a group of exhausted men shouldn't stand in the way of a major offensive, so they shipped a couple thousand gas cylinders filled with chlorine assuming that those would do the trick.
According to the medical journals of the time:
"The first effect of inhalation of chlorine is a burning pain in the throat and eyes, accompanied by a sensation of suffocation; pain, which may be severe, is felt in the chest, especially behind the sternum. Respiration becomes painful, rapid, and difficult ; coughing occurs, and the irritation of the eyes results in profuse lachrymation. Retching is common and may be followed by vomiting, which gives temporary relief. The lips and mouth are parched and the tongue is covered with a thick dry fur. Severe headache rapidly follows with a feeling of great weakness in the legs; if the patient gives way to this and lies down, he is likely to inhale still more chlorine, as the heavy gas is most concentrated near the ground. In severe poisoning unconsciousness follows."
Since those defending the Osowiec fortress had no gas mask whatsoever, the effect of this massive gas attack was truly devastating. A total of 1600 defenders suffered a painful and excruciating death, while the surviving few were coughing up blood heavily. Then fourteen battalions of Landwehr - at least 7000 infantry men slowly crossed the no man's land to occupy the Russian positions still covered by green gas. Then the surviving remnants of the 13th company - up to 60 soldiers decided to give the invading forces the taste of Russian hospitality – a bayonet charge. Rising from piles of dead bodies, dying soldiers all covered in their own blood with bayonets attached to their rifles charged the terrified Germans and forced them to flee, all of them. The attack that is widely referred to today as the “Attack of the Dead Men” is a remarkable example of courage and valor, but what were the soldiers with zero chances of survival thinking of while experiencing the unbearable pain? I guess we all feel like being betrayed by life at some point in our lifetime.
The concept of betrayal is a tricky one, since a person is rarely capable of foreseeing the possible consequences of his actions. The moment I saw reports that a Russian servicemen committed suicide at the Russian military base in Syria, I knew blood was in the water. Sharks wouldn't leave you waiting for long. So what one must do during such adversity? The Western propaganda machine that has been writing delusional articles about “Russia hitting nonexistent hospitals no one has ever seen” has finally got something to chew on. Regardless of the consequences of this tragic death, it will be exploited in every way possible to portray Russia in the ugliest of ways.
Vadim Kostenko, aged 19 was a professional servicemen who decided to pursue the military career and was truly proud of it. On his personal page within the Russian social media network 'VK' he wrote:
“There's a popular belief that serving one's country in the army is something that one must avoid. The most important duty in a man's life is now portrayed as a form of punishment, which is funny and sad at the same time. If I hadn't decided to enlist in the armed forces, my life would have been completely different. For sure, it's not a walk in the park, since we are to get used to this experience, the experience of being transformed into a new human being. But I can state in all seriousness that every one of us must face this experience to become a better man. Even when it was getting tough, there was not a single day that I regretted my decision.”
Vadim's fellow servicemen all agree that he was a cheerful and thoughtful person who was very serious about executing his duties properly, this is how he got to serve in Syria in the first place. And even if there was no honor, no valor involved in his death, there's little doubt that he would never abandon his comrades on the field of battle and would charge the enemy with a bayonet attached to his rifle along with the heroes of the 13th company.
The loss of life is always a tragedy, especially when those deceased were the brave souls that dedicated their lives to serving and protecting others. Yet, suicide is pretty common in any army, since being away from one's loved ones for prolonged periods of time along with the immediate access to firearms is a pretty explosive mixture. The US army has scored a sort of a record in 2012 with 349 servicemen taking their lives in that year. However, the situation with those who left the army is much more grave, according to America's own Department of Veterans Affairs (pdf), every day approximately 18-22 veterans in the United States take their own lives. In 10 years, that adds up to more than 80,000 deaths, almost twice as many as died in Vietnam. It seems that the absence of any interest towards their problems from elected officials makes them feel betrayed, just like Vadim Kostenko felt betrayed by his girlfriend on the eve of his fatal decision. However, we are going to read a lot of nasty things about Vadim's death this month across all of the West's major news sources, without US servicemen or veterans being mentioned anywhere. Who cares about helping those in dire need when you can harass Russia? I guess we all feel like being betrayed by life at some point in our lifetime.