Nikolai Vasenin, a Russian soldier who fought with the French Resistance, was born in December 1919 and died in December 2014. His story — courage, sacrifice, and love — is well worth remembering but has not been well publicized until recently. Two Russian filmmakers, Andrey Grigoriev and Pavel Sablin, discovered the story. Inspired, they filmed a documentary to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Russia’s Victory Day. The movie officially premieres in May. With support of Russian Copper Company, Nikolai Naumov presented the movie on April 18 for the Harvard Extension International Relations Club, garnering acclaim not just domestically but also abroad.
The documentary “Vasenin” captures only a small part of the veteran’s life, recording his 2014 return to France as he visited Paris and interacted with the inhabitants of a city where he fought, Saint-Sorlin. The mayor of Saint-Sorlin designated him an honorary citizen, pledging to name a street after him. Details about Vasenin’s life that could be verified were the only ones that could be included: the documentary shrouds Vasenin with mystery.
The film, by uncovering a lesser-known part of Russian history, honors an individual and a nation.