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Hero of the Soviet Union
Golden Star medal 473.jpg
Gold Star Medal of the Hero of the Soviet Union
Awarded by the  Soviet Union
Type Honourary Title
Eligibility Soviet and Foreign Citizens
Awarded for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society
Status No longer awarded
Statistics
Established April 16, 1934
First awarded April 20, 1934
Last awarded December 24, 1991
Total awarded 12,745
  • 11,635 individuals
  • 101 people with two awards
  • 3 people with three awards
  • 2 people with 4 awards
Precedence
Next (higher) none
Next (lower) Order of Lenin
Related Hero of the Russian Federation
Hero of Ukraine
Hero of Belarus

The title Hero of the Soviet Union (Russian: Герой Советского Союза, Geroy Sovyetskogo Soyuza) was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.

Contents

Overview

The award was established on April 16, 1934. The first recipients of the title originally received only the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet award, along with certificate (грамота, gramota) describing the heroic deed from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Because the Order of Lenin could be awarded for deeds not qualifying for the title of hero, and to distinguish heroes from other Order of Lenin holders, the Gold Star medal was introduced on August 1, 1939. Earlier heroes were retroactively eligible for these items.

A hero could be awarded the title again for a subsequent heroic feat with an additional Gold Star medal and certificate. An additional Order of Lenin was not given until 1973. The practice of awarding the title multiple times was abolished by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1988 during perestroika.

Many foreign citizens were awarded the title.

The title was also given posthumously, though often without the actual Gold Star medal given.

The title could be revoked only by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.[1]

History

The total number of persons who were awarded this title is 12,745 (twenty people have been stripped of this title due to various circumstances). The great majority of them received it during World War II (11,635 Heroes of the Soviet Union, 101 twice Heroes, 3 thrice Heroes, and 2 four-time Heroes). Sixty-five people were awarded the title for actions related to the Soviet-Afghan War, which lasted from 1979 until 1989. [1]

The first recipients of the award were the pilots Anatoly Liapidevsky (certificate number one), Sigizmund Levanevsky, Vasili Molokov, Mavrikiy Slepnev, Nikolai Kamanin, Ivan Doronin and Mikhail Vodopianov, who participated in the successful aerial search and rescue of the crew of the steamship Cheliuskin, which sank in Arctic waters, crushed by ice fields, on February 13, 1934. Valentina Grizodubova, a female pilot, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union (November 2, 1938)[2] for her international women's record for a straight-line distance flight. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, a Soviet partisan, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II (February 16, 1942).

101 people were to receive the award twice. A second award entitled the recipient to have a bronze bust of his/her likeness with a commemorative inscription erected in his home town.

Two famous Soviet fighter pilots, Aleksandr Pokryshkin and Ivan Kozhedub were thrice Heroes of the Soviet Union. A third award entitled the recipient to have his/her bronze bust erected on a columnar pedestal in Moscow, near the Palace of Soviets, but the Palace was never built.

The only individuals to receive the title four times were Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Leonid Brezhnev. The original statute of the Hero of the Soviet Union, however, did not provide for a fourth title; its provisions allowed for a maximum of three awards regardless of later deeds. Both Zhukov and Brezhnev received their fourth titles under controversial circumstances contrary to the statute, which remained largely unchanged until the award was abolished in 1991. Zhukov was awarded a fourth time "for his large accomplishments" on the occasion of his 60th birthday on December 1, 1956. There is some speculation that Zhukov's fourth Hero medal was for his participation in the arrest of Beria in 1953, but this was not entered in the records. Brezhnev's four awards further eroded the prestige of the award because they were birthday gifts, on the occasions of his 60th, 70th, 72nd and 75th birthdays.

By the 1970s, the award had been somewhat devalued. Important political and military persons had been awarded on the occasions of their anniversaries rather than for any immediate heroic activity.

All Soviet cosmonauts, starting from Yuri Gagarin, as well as foreign citizens who participated in Soviet cosmic program as cosmonauts, received Hero award for each flight (but no more than twice).

Apart from individuals, the title was also awarded to twelve cities (Hero City) as well as the fortress of Brest (Hero-Fortress) for collective heroism during the War.

The last recipient of the title "Hero of the Soviet Union" was a Soviet diver, Captain of the 3rd rank Leonid Mikhailovich Solodkov on December 24, 1991 for fulfillment of a special diving task. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, this title was succeeded in Russia by the title "Hero of the Russian Federation", in Ukraine by "Hero of Ukraine" and in Belarus by "Hero of Belarus".

Heraldry

Sevastopol coat of arms

The medal appears as a charge in the arms of The Hero City of Sevastopol (pictured on the left).

Notable recipients

Single award

Twice awarded

  • Semyon Timoshenko – military commander and senior professional officer of the Red Army
  • Ivan Konev – Marshal of the Soviet Union, commander of the First Ukrainian Front
  • Azi Aslanov – Major-General of armoured troops during WWII; participated in the 1944 Soviet offensives in Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic countries
  • Hovhannes (Ivan) Baghramian – military commander; took part in the great 1944 Soviet offensive in Belarus and Lithuania (Operation Bagration)
  • Konstantin Rokossovsky – Marshal of the Soviet Union, Commander of the First Belorussian Front, Marshal of Poland and Polish Minister of Defense[3], Deputy Minister of Defense and Commander of the Transcaucasian Military District, Chief Inspector of the Soviet Ministry of Defense.
  • Joseph Stalin - General Secretary of the Communist Party (1922-1953) and Head of Government (1941-1953)
  • Nelson Stepanyan – WWII dive bomber pilot*
  • Vladimir Kokkinaki - Famous test pilot and record breaker
  • Sydir Kovpak – partisan leader in Ukraine
  • Amet-Han Sultan – WWII-era fighter and test pilot.
  • Alexei Fyodorov – organized underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Ukraine
  • Issa Pliyev – military commander
  • Vasily Chuikov – A General responsible for the victory at Stalingrad and attacking Berlin. Made Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1955
  • Sergey Gritsevets – fighter pilot with 40 credited kills
  • Mikhail Katukov – Marshal of the Soviet Union, 1st Guards Tank Army Commander
  • Vasily Petrov Guards Major of Artillery during the second World War, for Dnepr crossing 1943 (No. 3504) where he lost both hands, and defense of an Oder bridgehead 1945 (No. 6091)
  • Viktor Leonov – Soviet Naval Scout (Commando), fought in both European and Pacific Theatres in World War II
  • Aleksandr Vasilevsky - Marshal of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II.
  • Aleksei Leonov - cosmonaut who made the world's first spacewalk in 1965.
  • Pavel Popovich - cosmonaut (Vostok 4 and Soyuz 14)[4]
  • Ivan Yakubovsky - tank commander during World War II. Made Marshal of the Soviet Union, First Deputy Minister of Defense, and Supreme Commander of the Warsaw Pact in 1967

Three times awarded

Four times awarded

Foreign recipients (all single awards)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ McDaniel and Schmitt, The Comprehensive Guide to Soviet Orders and Medals.
  2. ^ (Russian) Гризодубова Валентина Степановна
  3. ^ Rokossovsky held Polish citizenship while serving as Polish Defense Minister. This would technically make him the only "foreign citizen" to hold multiple titles of Hero of the Soviet Union, but it should be noted that he was awarded the titles while a Soviet citizen.
  4. ^ "Pavel Romanovich Popovich" (in Russian). Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote. 11 June 2009. http://www.astronaut.ru/as_rusia/vvs/text/popovich.htm?reload_coolmenus. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  5. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_air_aces

External links








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