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457 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 1973
Ordered to occupy a half-demolished building west of the Barrikady Plant, he had led fifty men into it only to find a sizable German force entrenched in a large room across a ten-foot-wide hallway. The corridor was impassable. No one on either side dared mount a rush, and Changar tried to estimate the size of the opposition. From the babble of voices, he judged it sufficient to hold him in check. Days went by. Food and ammunition were passed in through the windows. Changar assumed the Germans were doing the same so he ordered special equipment: spades, shovels, and 170 pounds of dynamite. The Russians broke through the concrete floor and started a tunnel. Digging two at a time, they slowly worked a passageway under the corridor. To mask the noise of the tools, they sang songs at the top of their voices. The Germans also burst into song from time to time, and Changar immediately figured the enemy was planning to blow him up, too. On the eleventh day, Changar ordered a halt to further excavation. After carefully placing the dynamite at the end of the tunnel, he cut and lined a fuse along the dirt passage up into the main room. The Germans were singing again, and someone on the other side of the hall had added a harmonica as accompaniment. While his men sang a last lusty ballad, Captain Changar lit the fuse and hollered to the two men still in the hole to "run like hell." With the fuse sputtering, everyone tumbled out the low windows and scattered hastily across the yard, but the explosion came too quickly. It picked them up and hurled them down again with stunning force. The shaken Changar looked back to see the strongpoint rising slowly into the air. It expanded outward, then broke into hundreds of pieces. A huge ball of fire catapulted up from the debris. He rose and called for his men. Only two had failed to get clear, the men who had been in the hole. Changar realized he had cut the fuse too short and he worried about the error until the next day, when he went back to examine his handiwork. He counted three hundred sixty legs before he lost interest and left, satisfied that the 180 dead Germans were a partial payment for his error.