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For which he received the award for the oldest Hero of the Soviet Union, whose monument stands in the Moscow metro
For which he received the award for the oldest Hero of the Soviet Union, whose monument stands in the Moscow metro

"Sons, dear ones, do not feel sorry for me - beat the bastards!" - they say that these were the last words of 83-year-old grandfather Kuzmich before his death … Matvey Kuzmich Kuzmin, the oldest hero of the Soviet Union, was awarded the posthumous award only 20 years after the Great Victory. When the whole country learned about his feat, the people immediately dubbed the hero Susanin of the Great Patriotic War, because, like the famous hero of the Russian-Polish war, Kuzmich led the enemies into the forest to certain death. The monument to Kuzmin can be seen in the Moscow metro.

Refused to become a headman

When the Great Patriotic War began, the hereditary peasant Matvey Kuzmich Kuzmin was almost 83. In the first year of the war, his native village of Kurakino in the Pskov region was occupied by the Germans. Kuzmich was moved to a barn, and a fascist commandant was housed in his good house.

The Germans reacted to the old man quite loyally and even offered him to become the village headman with them, because Kuzmich, stern and strong for his age, was considered by the local peasants to be an enemy of Soviet power. For the fact that at the time of collectivization the old man refused to join the collective farm and was not a member of the Communist Party, the villagers behind his back called him a "counter", and an individual farmer, and a biryuk.

Kuzmich with his family

However, to the proposal of the Germans to take on the role of headman, Kuzmin replied with a categorical refusal - they say, he is already old, deaf and blind. The Germans found this argument quite compelling and lagged behind their grandfather.

Sly plan

In February 1942, the German battalion of the 1st Mountain Rifle Division entered Kurakino. The Nazis began to prepare to imperceptibly penetrate into the rear of the troops of our 3rd Shock Army, which were based near the village of Pershino, which is a few kilometers from Kurakin. After that, the Nazis planned to break through the front line on the section between Leningrad and Pskov, in the area of ​​the railway, which at that time was under the control of Soviet troops.

Matvey Kuzmin

In search of a guide who could lead the Nazis to the Soviet rear, the German commander Holz opted for Vasily, the son of Kuzmich. However, the old man assured the Germans that his son was feeble-minded and volunteered to accompany them himself. The Nazis believed him and agreed, not knowing that it was a cunning move. In fact, Vasily was not at all feeble-minded. Unnoticed by the Nazis, his father whispered something to him. He ran out of the house, got on skis and hurried to the neighboring village of Malkino, where the 31st rifle brigade was based. There Vasily found Colonel Gorbunov and warned that his father would lead the Germans not to the village of Pershino, as they asked, but here - under machine-gun fire.

Campaign poster based on the feat of Matvey Kuzmin. Son Vasily is depicted as a boy

Meanwhile, the rumor that Kuzmich would be a guide to the Nazis and that for this work they promised him a good reward - money and food - quickly spread throughout the village. The villagers looked after the old man with hatred and contempt when he left the village, accompanied by enemies.

Further events developed almost as in the story with Ivan Susanin. The old man led his enemies through the forest for a long time, and he drove in circles - he was playing for time so that his son could warn ours. Only in the morning did the guide take the fascists to the Malkinsky Heights, where they were met by the fire of Soviet machine guns.

As a result of the feat of Kuzmich, some of the Germans were killed, some were captured, and several more Nazis froze to death in the forest during the night campaign. The old man himself died almost immediately - as soon as bursts of our machine guns rang out and the Germans realized that the guide had deceived them, they shot him.

Illustration for the story about the feat of Matvey Kuzmin

The famous writer and military commander Boris Polevoy learned about the feat of the "new Ivan Susanin" during the war years. He wrote material about him in the newspaper "Pravda", and later - and a whole story entitled "The Last Day of Matvey Kuzmin." True, as the descendants of the hero assure, the writer changed some details in his work. For example, Vasily in Polevoy's story is not an adult son of an old man, but an 11-year-old grandson.

It is interesting that Matvey Kuzmin was awarded the title of hero only in 1965, 23 years after his death. He is considered the oldest hero of the Soviet Union. Now his body rests in the fraternal cemetery in Velikiye Luki, and at the place where he met his death, you can see a small monument.

Descendants of the hero near the monument The hero's son Vasily with his family

Kuzmin left many descendants, because he was married twice and had eight children. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the old man often come to the memorial to honor the memory of the great ancestor. If in Soviet times schoolchildren read a story about Susanin of the 20th century in literature lessons, nowadays few know about this feat. Meanwhile, in Moscow, a monument to Matvey Kuzmin can be seen on the platform of the Partizanskaya metro station - the figure of a bearded old man, made by his namesake, sculptor Matvey Manizer, symbolizes popular resistance during the war years.

Monument to Kuzmin at the Partizanskaya metro station The Hero of the Soviet Union Matvey Kuzmin was recognized only in 1965

A few more followers of Susanin

In addition to the feat of Matvey Kuzmin, several more similar examples of heroism were recorded in the history of the Great Patriotic War.

For example, in the same February 1942, a resident of one of the villages near Moscow, Ivan Ivanov, led the Nazis into a deep forest, as a result of which most of the enemy unit froze to death.

In the Pskov region, two more similar cases were known - a local resident Mikhail Semyonov, after a long drive through the forests of the Nazis, led them to a minefield, and another villager, Savely Ugolnikov, did the same in the area of ​​the so-called Belsky forests.

And in 1943, in the Voronezh region, another hero, Yakov Dorovskikh, sent the Nazis retreating through the forests with heavy weapons under the attack of Soviet aviation. Moreover, Yakov did not die: when the enemies began to panic, during the confusion he managed to hide.

No less great feat was accomplished during the war years by the girls' eaglets - pioneer heroes shot by the fascists, which we were not told about at school.

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