The Werewolf Truce

📅 Published on August 12, 2022

“The Werewolf Truce”

Written by Xavier Poe Kane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


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American Journal of Russian History

Volume XXI Issue 3

Dead Letters: Imperial Russian Army Correspondence from the Eastern Front in World War I

Written and Translated by Oksana Volkov, PhD

As soon as Imperial Russia entered World War I, the “Provisional regulations on military censorship” law was imposed on soldiers deployed to the front lines. Unfortunately, many letters—some doubtless the last correspondence from a son or husband—never reached loved ones. Such was the case for Mrs. Aleksandra Alexeyev, the wife of Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev, whom he often addressed as “Зайчик,” pronounced—and written in translation as—zaya, meaning “bunny.”

However, that these letters were intercepted and stored by military censors is a boon for military historians studying the Eastern Front. Overshadowed by the Western Front and the 1917 Communist Revolution, life on the Eastern Front is often overlooked; this is unfortunate given that this front was more dynamic, as trench warfare never developed along the long frontline. These letters provide insight into the realities of the battlefield as these soldiers experienced it.

The following examples from Staff-Captain Alexeyev show the transformation from blind patriot to disillusioned combat veteran. They also provide evidence for a truce, similar to 1914’s Christmas Truce on the Western Front. The so-called Wolf Truce of 1917 was documented in American papers ranging from the Oklahoma City Times to the old Gray Lady herself, The New York Times.

It was reported from Saint Petersburg that along the front, near what is today Vilnius, Lithuania (then the Kovno-Wilna Minsk Governorate), a pack of wolves became so emboldened that they began attacking German and Russian soldiers. Initially seeking the bodies of the dead and wounded, these predators soon began attacking isolated soldiers. Eventually, the two sides stopped fighting each other in order to combat the wolves until the threat was neutralized. Staff-Captain Alexeyev’s letters contain the only mention in the Russian State Military Historical Archive’s collection of letters from the front.

These letters are here presented in their entirety for the first time.

29 June 1914, Prussia


I wish I could tell you exactly where I am. However, the censors will not appreciate it, and this letter may never reach those delicate hands I miss so much! My heart swells to bursting that you married me before the Tsar sent us to the front! The pride of you becoming my bride is the only thing that compares to the joy I feel for the coming fight in defense of our Motherland and our Tsar!

These Prussians will be a worthy adversary, which will make fighting them more glorious. Despite the hardships we know we will face, the atmosphere is jubilant. Estimates of our homecoming range from Christmas to Easter. I have faith in the righteousness of our cause and the ability of the officers appointed over me.

The men are conscripted peasants and are rough when it comes to military bearing and discipline. However, I, along with my peers, have faith in our non-commissioned officers to provide examples for these unruly but tough men to follow. Indeed, the sturdy nature of the Russian peasant may prove a secret weapon on the battleground!

I love you,

Junior Lieutenant Andrei Alexeyev


18 September 1914, Prussia


I am sorry I have not written sooner. I am alive, and my spirits are buoyed by the letter I received dated 25 August. That was the start of the Battle at Tannenberg. I cannot say much that the censors will allow other than to say that I was wounded enough to have spent the better part of three weeks in a hospital but not so grave that I will be returned to your arms before the war is won. Indeed, I won a promotion due to valor on the battlefield!

Our resolve is shaken but not broken! While I believed we would be home by Christmas, after meeting the enemy, I must revise my estimate closer to Easter.

I love you,

Lieutenant Andrei Alexeyev


21 December 1916, Kovno-Wilna Minsk Governorate


The war drags on with heroes and evil on both sides of this terrible conflict. Even the animals have abandoned this hellscape. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a creature that had not been conscripted by Earth’s greatest monster, man, as we destroy God’s creation. I am ashamed of my prior adoration for war. If you have retained the letters from that naïve and foolish version of me that no longer exists, I beg of you to burn them. When I return, I do not wish to be reminded of my past zeal for the inglorious shedding of blood.

If I return.

My men and I have been tasked to defend a bridge. The Prussians sent their men across. Cruelly we waited until they made it halfway, seeking to avenge some forgotten slight they had perpetuated on our side. Through my field glasses, I could see their countenance relax as they felt relief after having assumed their next breath would be their last.

It was at that point I ordered my men to open fire. They unleashed a merciless fury upon the now unsuspecting foe. I am ashamed to admit the joy I felt at their demise. Even the next day when they returned to claim their dead, the Tsar’s artillery rained down hellfire and brimstone on them. The barrage started as a few loud explosions but soon reached such a cacophony of death that I swore the shells blotted out the sun. Smoke hugged the ground as dearly as the men our munitions fell upon. At the end of the salvo, the bridge had been destroyed.

And yet the butchers were determined to cross that damned river! They attempted to forge through water that came up to their necks! Once more it was up to the marksmanship and machine guns of the men under my command to prevent the pigs from reaching our side of the riverbank. After the engagement, the river ran red with the blood of 5,000-6,000 Boche bastards.

I apologize if I have placed too much on your lithe shoulders. I wish I did not have to embrace this darkness. The unfortunate truth is that if myself and men like me did not, the cost of Hun barbarity would be borne by you and the rest of Russian womanhood.

I love you and beg you to pray for my deliverance from this evil,

Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev


30 January 1917, Kovno-Wilna Minsk Governorate


Pray for my salvation, though I do not believe any of us who so eagerly marched into this madness will ever be saved. I have come to hope there is no God. I wish I could say that it was only because I see no evidence of Him here—that would be rational. Instead, I hope for it because I have seen a glimpse of the wrath of His judgment on me because of my sins.

Nature has returned. A large pack of wolves has descended upon a village 30 km from my encampment. The attacks began with livestock and then the men. It did not go unnoticed that the beasts were avoiding the women and children of the village. One of my snipers was dispatched to hunt the alpha male of the pack, which he successfully did. The senior sergeant, an ancient peasant who hunted wolves in Siberia, assured me that once the alpha was killed the pack would retreat into the wild, seeking prey elsewhere.

Some of the men began speculating that the wolves were displaying more humanity than us. Such talk has become more common across the Motherland as ingrates speak against our glorious Tsar. News of trouble has reached us at the front, and high command has directed us to purge ourselves of any socialists in our midst. I watched as we put to the bullet some of our bravest men. How can we fight the enemy when we’re tearing ourselves apart not only at home but on the front itself?

While other officers had found the Bolshevik menace in their ranks, I am proud to say that I have not heard any such grumblings from my brave men! Not even Junior Sergeant Sazonov, who is exceptionally educated for a man of peasant stock. I have every confidence in the men under my command to fight bravely for our homeland!

I love you,

Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev


25 February 1917, Kovno-Wilna Minsk Governorate


Despite my newfound agnosticism, I kneel in prayer every night that the revolutionary insanity has not reached you and that you are safe. If there is a God, may He protect you from the violence.

The wolves. The hellhounds did not disperse as Senior Sergeant Alibekov promised. I doubt he truly killed the alpha. The foul beasts have begun targeting soldiers. It began with our dead and wounded being dragged from where they fell. Then the creatures got bolder and snatched the dead and most of the wounded from our aid stations. At first, when our rear guard began disappearing, we thought they had deserted—until we found the savaged remains of a man. His uniform in tatters. His bones, save his head, had been picked clean. It was as if his face was left for us to find, for us to stare into his unblinking, questioning eyes.

At night, the howls of the pack keep us from sleep, invading our nightmares and robbing what little respite from our horrible reality is left to us. Two days ago, members of the pack invaded the battlefield, preying upon the dead and dying and menacing anyone seeking to give the fallen aid. A few of the more cunning and daring animals began taking advantage of soldiers distracted by combat and attacking the able-bodied.

In the midst of battle, something miraculous happened. A Hun butcher and a noble Russian peasant began working together to attack a common foe. Once the pack retreated into the woods, a Prussian officer approached under a flag of truce while the men began helping clear the battlefield of the dead and tending to the wounded—the uniform, momentarily, notwithstanding.

The officer, a man of my rank and age, appraised me. I wondered if I looked as simultaneously young and old to him as he did to me. They had been suffering through the same incredible torment as we, and they offered a temporary truce. My superiors wisely agreed, and I assigned Senior Sergeant Alibekov and Junior Sergeant Sazonov to select a few men to go with the Prussians and hunt the wolves down.

When they returned, they reported the end of many of our lupine tormentors. My colonel, an inadequate man named Markusha Milleovich, wanted pelts, but they had none. The two non-commissioned officers were shaken by my questioning.

“You wouldn’t believe us, sir,” the senior sergeant explained. “The pack dragged the carcasses into the woods. I’ve never seen wolves do this with their dead.”

My little zaya, I have fought with these men, and I trust them with my life. Looking into their eyes, I knew they were not lying to me. Colonel Milleovich did not share my faith in my men. He ordered me to personally attend tomorrow’s hunt.

I must rest now.

I love you,

Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev

This was the last recorded letter from Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev. From here, the historical record goes cold. Lost in the fog of the Bolshevik Revolution are any other letters home from the Eastern Front or even death certificates for either Andrei or Aleksandra Alexeyev.  In the search for the staff-captain’s fate, a letter was found from the aforementioned Sergeant Sazonov—full name Pyotor Ivanovich Sazonov—to a member of the Petrograd Cheka pleading for mercy on behalf of Mrs. Alexeyev. This letter serves as the only indication of her husband’s death.

The infamous Cheka was the Soviet Union’s first secret-police force, and Sergeant Sazonov became a member serving in the branch responsible for his home city of Moscow. The events the then “Comrade” Sazonov described are incredible and defy belief. Unable to find other documentation about Andrei Alexeyev, this letter was included as a historical oddity in the interest of maintaining the integrity of the historical record. What follows are the ramblings of a man deeply broken by what he witnessed in the “war to end all wars.” After all, serious persons do not believe in that which belongs to the realm of delusions and antiquated superstition—werewolves.



24 January 1920, Moscow


Comrade Sergei Timofeyevich Nikolayev,

You do not know me. I am Pyotor Ivanovich Sazonov, and I’m a chekist serving in the Cheka rooting out counterrevolutionaries in Moscow. It has come to my attention that you are holding a petit bourgeoisie widow named Aleksandra Alexeyev. I served with her husband in the last imperialist war. He was a good man, and he protected me from being murdered for my belief in the communist revolution. He thought it was insanity that the Tsar’s army would put brave men—who were fighting not for a cruel and corrupt monarch but for the Russian people—to death. He told me that he made sure to speak of my bravery and patriotism often, even in letters home. I believe this is what kept myself and several other clandestine revolutionaries alive and, given time, I would have converted this brave man into a good communist.

His only concern over the revolution was that it put his beloved “zaya” in danger. Is that counterrevolutionary or just a devoted husband and example of the best of Russian manhood? His actions continuously went against his class, and, if Mrs. Alexeyev is worthy of his devotion, I believe with a little reeducation she can be reformed into a productive member of the proletariat.

Comrade Nikolayev, let me share with you how her husband died—once more acting against his class interest and sacrificing himself for the proletariat.

Colonel Milleovich was our commanding officer and a small man full of distrust. I think he knew that I was a communist and, worse, a Jew. He didn’t trust me, and it didn’t help that Comrade Mikhail Alibekov was a Kazak and not a “true” Russian. It was the first hunt of the wolf truce, and we did not return with the pelts as Colonel Milleovich directed. He ordered Comrade Alexeyev to accompany us on the following day’s hunt, along with three Prussians—two infantrymen and a medic.

We set out three hours before dawn. We thought we would track the pack through the woods. Comrade Alibekov suggested we carry traditional torches instead of the electric ones our momentary allies brought with them—something our Tsarist commanders thought a luxury wasted on common enlisted men. The Kazak thought it would be best to save the weaker electric torches for peering into the crevices and shallow caves where wolves tended to make dens.

As we entered the dark woods, we heard howls from our flanks, as if the pack leader placed scouts to warn of our approach. The Prussians shrunk with fear and even Comrade Alibekov trembled. I will admit that the sound made me shiver and grip my rifle tighter as we marched deeper into the dark.

I don’t know if Comrade Alexeyev was scared, but he stood tall and unwavering as we moved deeper into the woods. We could hear paws crunching the snow as shadows crossed our path, taunting us with growls and sounds I’d never heard from man nor beast. Even Alibekov, a renowned huntsman in his hometown, claimed the sound unnatural.

“It’s like the wolves are laughing at us,” he observed.

“Have you ever heard a wolf laugh?” I asked.

“Wolves cannot laugh. I do not know what these demons are,” he said.

I’ll never forget the alert fear in that large man’s eyes.

“Enough,” the staff-captain ordered. “You’re frightening yourselves.” His voice was iron and helped me find my spine.

We trudged another fifty yards before the first attack.

It came suddenly when two wolves took out the rear guard. They went straight for the men’s throats, intending to silence them so they wouldn’t alert us. Fortunately, one wolf missed his mark, and the victim was able to cry out. We spun as a group. Comrade Alibekov’s rifle immediately shouldered, he took aim. The rifle cracked, echoing in the dense forest, and was followed by a canine squeal of pain. The animals took off into the dark, leaving behind the cooling corpse of the only Prussian who spoke Russian and a mangled soldier.

The medic began bandaging his wounded comrade.

The staff-captain took in the situation. “Circle around the wounded man.” He stepped over to the corpse and took the dead man’s rifle as Alibekov and I took up a defensive posture. The captain handed the wounded soldier, who could no longer shoulder a rifle, his pistol.

When the medic was done with his work, Alexeyev pointed to the wounded man’s rifle. The medic didn’t understand Russian but understood the intent. Shooting an animal not being a violation of his oath to heal, he armed himself and took a defensive position.

“We’ll hold until light, then we’ll follow the blood trail,” our staff-captain said.

We waited, the cold seeping into our bones as we stopped moving. We could hear the beasts moving through the brush. Our faint lights kept the corpse in shadow, allowing the wolves to nab the carcass and drag it into the night. A few of us reflexively fired at targets we couldn’t see.

“Cease fire!” Staff-Captain Alexeyev shouted. “You’re wasting ammo.”

As night surrendered to day, the sound of stalking wolves faded. We could now follow the trail left behind by the monsters as they dragged the bleeding body on the way back to their den. After a few kilometers, we stumbled upon a cave. Outside, the remains of the man laid, now little more than bloody bones with chunks of meat clinging to the skeleton. His uniform was strewn about the small clearing in tatters. However, the cruel beasts left his head intact, the man’s eyes frozen open in mocking warning.

“Fuck these animals,” the staff-captain said as the medic retched behind us. “Let’s go get some pelts.” He took off toward the opening of the cave, and we followed.

Comrade Alibekov was deeply troubled as we moved inside.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, not really wanting to know.

“I’ve seen wolves live in caves. This seems a little big. Not impossible, just feels … off.” He shrugged. “Oh well. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. It’s the Russian way. We should use the Prussian torches now.”

The captain put the injured man in the lead and the medic in the rear, their faint electric light enough to hold the shadows at bay, although we saw the twinkling of what the huntsman called “eyeshine” staring back at us from the darkness. Bones crunched under our feet; our guide quieted our fears, saying that these were animal remains—the normal prey of wolves.

Light flashed, and we turned and saw the medic’s torch on the ground, its small light bulb pointed toward the cave ceiling. The man’s body was dragged into the shadows as a blur flashed between me and Comrade Alibekov. The way his eyes went wide and his mouth opened in a silent scream still haunts my nightmares. Blood from a gaping throat wound spurted on me. Before I knew it, this strong, proud man was gone.

The other Prussian dropped his torch, breaking the delicate lightbulb, and ran blindly into the darkness screaming.

Alexeyev composed himself and calmly retrieved our one working electric torch. “We finish this. One way or another, Sergeant. Our comrades deaths shall not be in vain.”

I nodded and followed him into what I realized was Hell.

Eventually, our light fell upon Prussian boots and a collared wolf with a brown coat who sat studying us with unusually intelligent eyes. We raised our weapons. However, before we could pull the trigger, the creature began to change.

Comrade Nikolayev, I understand that what follows will strike you as madness. I pledge to you that it is true. With the creaking of bone and several other disturbing, unnatural sounds, the wolf turned into a naked woman. Her brown hair flowed down her back. Brown eyes studied us as we stood, mouths agape.

She laughed, joined by the howls of the other wolves echoing off the walls. “You boys look surprised. Have you never seen a naked woman before?” She stepped over the corpse of the fallen Prussian as if he were nothing more than a felled tree.

In any other situation, I would’ve found her irresistible. But when I noticed her lips stained with blood, I saw her as a monster.

The captain was quicker to snap out of disbelief. “You have killed brave men. Innocent soldiers.” He shouldered his rifle.

Once more she mocked us with her laugh. “Innocent?” Her head tilted back as she laughed from her belly. “Put your weapons down. You are already dead. My pack will kill you before you squeeze the trigger.”

I could hear a growl, but I could not see the beast it belonged to.

“There are no innocent soldiers. You kill one another. Treat each other as if neither of you was human. All the while making civilians and nature pay the price for your glory and bits of ribbon.”

“Who are you?” my staff-captain asked.

“I am Svetlana Volkov.” She shook her head sadly. “My father was like you. Marched for the Tsar in Crimea and came back a broken man. He would drink and beat us. I ran away from home, determined never to return. I was lucky when my mate found me near his den, turned me, and made me one of his pack. He was the alpha, and soon I learned the ways of the pack—how to help lead them as their alpha female. We knew peace until your folly came and destroyed our home, forcing us to feed upon the flesh of your dead and soon-to-be dead. Then your huntsman murdered my mate! All I have left of him is this,” she said, gesturing to the collar around her neck. She moved her hair aside to reveal the ruby pendant hanging from it. “It became more than survival. It became about revenge.” She turned her back on us. “I grow bored. It is time for you to die.”

“Wait!” Comrade Alexeyev yelled. “Spare my sergeant.”

She turned. “Do not make demands of me.”

“I beg you.”

She looked at me, her eyes chilling me to my core. “Why does he deserve life? Over even yours?”

“He fights only because he is forced by a corrupt, imperialistic Tsar. He has educated me on the plight of the people and shown me the error of my own ways. He’s also a Jew and, like your own people, persecuted. He hates this war. What better way to show you are not a monster than by letting a man such as this carry your message back to our commanders?”

She considered this a moment. “Go. Before I change my mind.”

I looked at Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev, and he nodded as he dropped his rifle. I ran into the darkness moments before I heard him start to scream. There would be no good death for the officer.

As I ran, I heard the sound of paws in pursuit, furry bodies pushing and guiding me toward the cave entrance. The sounds of my comrade dying echoed behind me. Then, happily, I saw light and felt fresh, cold air stinging my lungs. I was happy to be alive for only a moment before the guilt over surviving set in. I turned back toward the den to see the two shapeshifters who guided me out snarl before turning and bounding back into the darkness.

I eventually made it back to camp, having decided not to tell my superiors what had happened. Instead, I told them that the wolves had become even more savage and murdered the squad. Colonel Milleovich did not take kindly to what he deemed desertion, and I spent the remainder of my time in the Imperialist Army in confinement. When the Tsar’s abdication a month later threw the Army into disarray, I was able to escape to join the October Revolution.

As you can see, Comrade Nikolayev, Aleksandra Alexeyev’s husband was a hero of the people, despite coming from a landed family and being commissioned by the Tsar to fight in the imperialistic army. He was aware of the damage his class and the aristocracy were doing to the people of Russia and, knowing his character, I believe he would choose a wife of the same mind.

I humbly request your assistance in this matter and beg you to consider releasing the wife of Comrade Alexeyev to my custody.

With ardent fraternal greetings,

Chekist Pyotor Ivanovich Sazonov

Thus ends the only eyewitness account of the mythical “Wolf Truce of 1917.” Staff-Captain Andrei Alexeyev’s account is as sober and credible as his sergeant’s tale of wolves shapeshifting into beautiful women is madly incredible. However, this letter should not be dismissed entirely. Chekist Sergei Timofeyevich Nikolayev was regarded by peers as a superstitious man prone to believe in country folklore about fairies and goblins. Therefore, Sazonov may have been constructing a fiction to portray a man who saved him from execution as even more valiant than he was.

Despite the fantastic nature of this final letter, this record is meant to finally put to rest doubts regarding the historical veracity of this event as reported in U.S. newspapers of the time.


For back matter.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Xavier Poe Kane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Xavier Poe Kane

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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