October 5th, 1920 – Meliton Kantaria was born, an ethnic Georgian Red Army soldier who hoistered the Red banner on Reichstag in Berlin in 1945 along with his comrades Yegorov and Berest – putting an end to the Third Reich.
He fought since the Nazi invasion, was inured in 1942. During storming the Reichstag there were sent 6 groups with Red banners – the group of Yegorov and Kantaria managed to breakthrough to the top of building (the rest hoistered it on other parts of the building).
As told his daughter Tsiala Kantaria, he had some hesitations before intervening into Reichstag as Nazis defended vehemently – it seemed to him a suicidal attack. Then he decided that it is better to die inside in a fight than under the fire but near the main aim. Running to the top of the building his comrade Yegorov was lightly wounded. Kantaria helped him and both reached the roof. Kantaria used his belt to tie the Red banner.
After WW2 Kantaria returned to his home village. In 1947 – joined the communist party. In early 1960s he was visited in his village by marshall Georgiy Zhukov who proposed to him to continue his military career, but Kantaria refused telling that he loves calm rural life. In 1965 he headed the MayDay demo in Moscow carrying the red banner.
The collapse of the USSR in 1991 triggered numbers of ethnic conflicts. Kantaria as an ethnic Georgian lived in Abkhazia which seceded. Kantaria’s house was destroyed in the Georgian-Abkhazian war but he managed to evacuate his family to Tbilisi.
Georgian authorities didn’t care of their refugees. So, Kantaria moved to Moscow asking to provide a shelter for his family. The issue was solved due to veterans’ organizations. But Meliton Kantaria died in a train on the way to Moscow to accept an apartment for his family.
His daughter told that ethnic conflicts undermined his health. He couldn’t realize their reasons. ‘I fought for Georgians, Abkhazians, Russians and all people’, told he with a sorrow in the last days of his life being a refugee.