14. A Sudden Lethal Ax Rampage
In mid-July, 1941, a few weeks after the German invasion, Dmitry Ovcharenko was in southern Ukraine, a soldier in the 389th Regiment of the 176th Infantry Division. He had been wounded recently, and as he recovered, he was given light duty and was entrusted with a cart to bring up supplies from the rear to his comrades on the front. Unbeknownst to Ovcharenko, however, the front had moved, and on July 13, 1941, he turned a bend in the road and found himself face to face with dozens of Germans. An enemy soldier quickly seized Ovcharenko’s rifle, then an officer came up to interrogate him. Unfortunately for the Germans, Ovcharenko’s cart had an ax.
Mid-interrogation, Ovcharenko suddenly seized the ax and lopped off the German officer’s head in a single sweep. As the shocked Germans tried to process what had just happened, Ovcharenko dove into the cart, pulled out some hand grenades, and lobbed them at the enemy soldiers. Within a few lethal seconds, the ground was covered with twenty one dead and dying Germans, and the rest scattered. Ovcharenko hefted his ax and gave chase. He caught up with another enemy officer from behind, and lopped off his head as well. The now-thoroughly-demoralized and terrified Germans – most likely reach echelon troops rather than front line soldiers – did not fight back. Instead, they gave in to blind panic and fled in terror.