Before we arrived in Tarnopol we had our answers. About two miles before the town proper we heard a loud hubbub. What sounded like a speech was being delivered through a loudspeaker at some distance from us. […] We sensed that something important was occurring and, tired as we were, broke into a trot.
After the bend was a long, straight stretch of road. The 200 or so yards directly in front of us were deserted; the straggling groups that we had been accustomed to see in front of us had all merged into a single, stationary horde standing far down the road.[…] From near this knot of men the voice continued its resonant, unintelligible address. Behind the men we could see a long file of military trucks and tanks on the road, but we could not tell of what nationality they were.
The men behind us had likewise been infected by the excitement and some of them, running even more rapidly, had passed us. As they did, one of them, evidently gifted with the eyes of a hawk, shouted: 'The Russians, the Russians... I can see the hammer and sickle.' We joined them breathlessly, panting and asking questions. We saw now the hammer and sickle, painted conspicuously in red on many of the Russian tanks and trucks. The trucks were crammed with Russian soldiers, formidably armed. We gathered that the voice in the truck had substantially confirmed what we had heard previously in the rumor of the broadcast.
The reaction to this speech was utter, paralysed silence. Events had moved completely beyond our comprehension, deprived us of all volition. We stood there in a dumb trance. Not a whisper, hardly even a sound of movement could be heard. [...]
The spell was broken by the sound of a single sob from somewhere down front. For a second I thought it was a hallucination. Then it was repeated, a rasping, desperate sobbing that seemed to tear the throat from which it issued. It increased in violence, became racked and choking, then caught itself, changed into shrill, hysterical speech: ‘Brothers, this is the fourth partition of Poland. May God have mercy on me.’ The sound of the revolver shot that followed spread dismay and confusion everywhere. Everyone attempted to crowd closer to the spot from which the shot had come. News traveled like lightning. It was a non-commissioned officer who had committed suicide. He had put the bullet through his brain and had died instantly. No one knew his name, company, or anything about him.