My Grandfather lived in what was then the part of Poland taken over by Stalin in 1939. He was 23 at the time. For no reason at all he was sent to a labor camp in Siberia. One day he was doing work and saw the guards were not looking, he and a friend of his made a run for it. My grandfather got to the nearest recruiting office for the Soviet Army. At that point they were desperate (not sure the exact year, he is deceased now, but I assume June-Dec 41 when Hitler almost cause the collapse of the Red Army), of course they did not know he was an escapee of Siberia. He joined the army for two reasons 1. He wanted to fight the Nazis (he had heard rumors they were killing the Jews, and it turned out his entire village of 250 Jews, his parents, 7 siblings were taken to the forest and shot by the Einsatzgruppen, he was the only survivor, ironically because he was sent to Siberia) 2. He thought the best way of survival was by joining the army. Even then it was far from ideal, he told me once he had to eat raw meat from a dead horse because if they cooked it, it would give their position away to the Nazis. He ended up moving up the ranks in the army, he had a great shot and by the end of the war he was commander of a small platoon. I do not know all his accounts from the war (I wish I had asked him more while he was alive) but he ended up fighting in the battle of Berlin. I am not sure if he was in Zhukov's group or the other commanders. I do know that on the last day of the war he got a grenade wound to the ear and was partially deaf in that ear for life. At the end of the war, he wanted to start life over. The Red Army wanted him to stay since they were impressed with him so he had to escape from the army. He ran away from the army, met my grandmother moved to America and lead a middle class lifestyle, and provided a great education to my father who became a prestigious doctor. That is his story in a nutshell.