Дата публикации: 31 августа 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BAZANOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №3, 2010, C.41-44
Номер публикации: №1630399358

Olga BAZANOVA, (c)

by Olga BAZANOVA, Galina GERASSIMOVA, journalists


The Museum of Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia was opened on Bolshaya Cheremushkinskaya Street in Moscow on the eve of Heroes of Fatherland Day first celebrated in this country on December 9, 2007. Its relics tell the life story of our compatriots who have served their Motherland bone fide, in selfless dedication.


The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was instituted by the nation's top legislature (Central Executive Committee of the USSR) in 1934 to be awarded for extraordinary feats of individual citizens or collectives-feats of valor at a risk of one's life. Along with the Hero's title went a Lenin Order, Gold Star medal and Certificate of Honor awarded by the presiding body of the top national legislature (from 1938 on, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR).


The first men to merit this distinction were pilots tak-ing part in the rescue operation to save the crew of the Cheluskin steamship that, crushed by ice in February 1934, sank near the Bering Strait. Its crew of 104 were marooned on an ice floe. Aircraft were seat to move them to safety. On March 5, 1934, pilot Anatoly Liapidewski, flying an ANT-4 plane, broke through to the ice camp and took out ten women and two children. For this exploit he merited the No. 1 Star of Hero of the Soviet Union. The museum is proud to display the pilot's per-sonal things: the flying boots of polar wolfs skin; the samovar presented by "Tula's proletarians"; the alu-minum flask for spirits, souvenirs, and other relics.


"The asterisk on our forage caps is no trinket-the day will come when the enemy's first shot is gonna be aimed at it. The first shot was fired in Spain. So we realized that the cause for which the Spanish people was fighting was worth the do-or-die effort." This is what pilot Ivan Lakeyev, Hero of the Soviet Union (1937), said-a man who was among the volunteers backing the republicans in the Spanish civil war* Downing several enemy planes in stiff air battles, he was among five fighter pilots to master group flying. Thereupon he took part in battles at the river Khalkin-Gol during the armed conflict between the USSR and Japan in 1939 within Mongolia, allied with the Soviet Union. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941 to 1945 Lakeyev was a fighter division commander.


Overall, the top distinction of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 35 flyers, 21 tankmen, two submariners and 2 military advisers for their valor in Spain. Seventy



* In 1936 to 1939 a civil war was on in Spain between the rebellious nation-alists captained by General Franco, and the Spanish republicans backed by left-wing political groups. Franco was supported by Italy, Germany and Portugal, and the republicans-by the Soviet Union, Mexico and France. The republican government was defeated in the end (1939), and the dicta-torship of General Franco imposed on Spain up until November 1975.-Ed.

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men and officers were in for this honor at Khalkin-Gol in the East, and three merited it twice, to become Twice Heroes of the Soviet Union: an air force commander Jacob Smuszkewicz, and regiment commanders Grigory Kravchenko and Sergei Gritsevets.


The Hitlerite invasion of June 1941 was a tragic chap-ter for this country. The stern test of war triggered a tidal wave of mass patriotism. The first men to be awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 were pilots Mikhail Zhukov, Stepan Zdorovtsev and Pyotr Kharitonov defending the skies over Leningrad. In the Navy it was Sgt. Vassily Kislyakov of the Marines: in a battle near the mouth of the Western Litsa (Murmansk Region) he took charge of the platoon after its com-mander was killed, and led it in attack. He and his men seized a height and built defenses on it. Running out of ammunition, the brave Marine ordered his men to retreat, and he continued his single-handed fight against a hundred Hitlerites, standing his ground until rein-forcement came.


In 1943, with the war still on, Major-General Dmitry Onuprienko, in command of the Sixth Infantry Division of the Guards, merited the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for combat valor in fierce fighting for the Dnieper.* The same honor was awarded to artillerymen engaged in the same operation: gun-layer Sgt. Kosenkov, platoon commander Lt. Vladimir Bezukladnikov, artillery piece commander Sgt. Sergei Sinkov, and gun-layer Sgt. Mikhail Golyakov, who distinguished them-selves in forcing the river.



* The Battle of the Dnieper in the latter half of 1943 was one of the great-est engagements in war history; it involved several strategic operations that included the forcing of the Dnieper (one of Europe's biggest rivers), and the building of bridgeheads on its western, right bank. Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, was cleared of the enemy as a result of this offensive.-Ed.

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In the wee hours of the 29th September of 1943 Lt. Mikhail Manankin and his platoon, using available materials, crossed the Dnieper near the village of Glushets (Gomelsky Region, Belarus) and seized a bridgehead on the Dnieper's right bank. Rebuffing three counterstrikes of the enemy, the men destroyed thirty Hitlerites. For this feat of valor Lt. Manankin got the top honors of Hero of the Soviet Union. Hundreds of miles south, the 49th Infantry Division of the Guards under Col. Vassily Margelov forced the Dnieper and liberated the town of Kherson. He was in for this top distinction as well. These and other exploits of our heroes are featured in the museum's exposition.


In 1992 the title of Hero of Russia was instituted in place of the old distinction of Hero of the Soviet Union. Veterans of the Great Patriotic War can qualify for it as well, like it was with tankman Fadin who showed his paces in the liberation of Kiev and in the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky operation.* Twice nominated for the top award, he received it only in 1996. The award found its hero in the end. In 1994 the award found Alexandra Akimova, a heroic woman who saw service in the Air Force-first as an armament mechanic, then as a gunner and bombardier and air navigator-in the night female air regiment that the Germans, scared out of their wits, dubbed "flying night witches".


There are hundreds upon hundreds of heroic men and women who were in for top kudos: over 12,700 have been awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, 11,000



* The Korsun-Shevchenkovsky operation carried out by troops of the First and Second Ukrainian Fronts between Jan. 24, 1944 and Feb. 17, 1944 was part of an all-out offensive in the western Ukraine that culmi-nated in the rout of an encircled En grouping.-Ed.

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among them during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945; 40 foreign citizens have been honored thus, too. As many as 154 our compatriots have merited this title twice, like Marshal Vassily Chuikov, the commander of the 62nd Army that won glory in the epic Stalingrad Battle on the Volga.* Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States in 1933 to 1945, admired the courage and tenacity of our men and officers. The victory in this battle, he said, turned the tide of the war. This victory inspired "fresh determination among the United Nations to bend every energy to bring about the final defeat and unconditional surrender of the common enemy," F.D.R. wrote in his message of greet-ings on the Stalingrad epic victory.


We are proud of the galaxy of Thrice Heroes of the Soviet Union-those on whom this honor was conferred on three occasions. This is Semyon Budenny, the hero of the Civil War of 1918-1920; he was actively engaged dur-ing the Great Patriotic War as a front and cavalry com-mander (in charge of the Red Army's mounted troops); these are crack fighter pilots Ivan Kozhedub and Alexander Pokryshkin. Marshal Georgi Zhukov received four Gold Stars of Hero of the Soviet Union. During the war he served as chief of the General Staff, First Deputy Defense Minister (Narkom), Deputy Supreme Com-mander of the Armed Forces and as field front comman-der-of the Reserve, Leningrad, Western, First Ukrainian and First Byelorussian Fronts (the First Byelorussian Front stormed and captured Berlin in April-May 1945). The Heroes Museum has, apart from the standing exhibition, a conference hall, library and depositary. Its basic stock comprises over 500 objects; 100 items are in the reserves. Guests can inspect as many as 200 in stands and showcases. All these articles have been donated as gifts by war heroes or their relatives. Speaking at the museum's opening ceremony on Dec. 1, 2007, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov of Moscow said the museum should expand and get more floorspace for its relics. "Our city is ready for that," he stressed. "The city government has passed a decision on building yet another house for this cultural-educational institution that will reflect all stages... of the Battle of Moscow..." [This battle was fought in 1941 and 1942.] "We have done a job of work in establishing this museum," Yuri Luzhkov said. "I believe this museum is needed for us to keep the memory of the Great Patriotic War and pass it down to the present gen-eration and generations to come."



* The Battle of Stalingrad fought between July 1942 and February 1943 was one of the greatest in the Second World War. The German Wehrmacht was out to seize Stalingrad (now Volgograd) and break through to the Caucasus. The Sixth German Army was stopped at Stalingrad and encircled. What remained of it laid down arms and surrendered, with General Paulus at the head, early in February 1943. The German armed forces lost strategic initia-tive. Meanwhile the Red Army launched an all-out offensive and cleared huge tracts of land of the enemy.-Ed.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 31 августа 2021 года

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