How a famous scientist became a successful sniper: The oldest participant of the Great Patriotic War Nikolai Morozov
How a famous scientist became a successful sniper: The oldest participant of the Great Patriotic War Nikolai Morozov

In the winter of 1942, an unusual recruit arrived at the Volkhov front. Academician Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov decided to defend the Motherland. A world-renowned scientist shot perfectly, so after checking he became a sniper and inflicted significant damage on the enemy. To see the famous thinker, officers and soldiers from other units specially came to the battalion, because at that time the miracle fighter was already 87 years old. His vitality and physical endurance were amazing, even if you forget about old age, since this man spent almost half of his life in prisons.

Nikolai Alexandrovich was born in 1854 in his father's estate in the Yaroslavl region. The mother of the future scientist was a peasant serf. The landowner Pyotr Alekseevich Shchepochkin did not abandon the seven illegitimate children born to her. True, he did not give them his name, but under the name of his mother and with the patronymic of his godfather he gave them an education. For many years, son Nikolai was considered a disgrace of the family - he studied so badly at the gymnasium that he was expelled, for a couple of years he was listed as a volunteer at Moscow University, but as a result he never received a systemic education. Further it gets worse. To the horror of his parents, a twenty-year-old boy got in touch with the populists, entered the Tchaikovsky circle, began to walk around the villages and propagate strange ideas of freedom to illiterate peasants, served three years for this, but did not calm down, became one of the founders of the Narodnaya Volya organization.

Youth is the time for hot decisions. Among the People's Will, Nikolai Morozov was considered one of the most ardent supporters of the method of brutal terrorism. He even suggested using terror not as an exclusive method of struggle, but as a permanent regulator of political life in Russia. It is interesting that in the future, having already earned the status of a scientist and thinker, Nikolai Aleksandrovich will become a conductor of humanistic ideas. His "Letters from the Shlisselburg Fortress", for example, was highly appreciated by Leo Tolstoy. But before that, the former champion of terror had a long way to go. After the murder of the Emperor by the Narodnaya Volya, Morozov was sentenced to life imprisonment.

ON. Morozov in a portrait painted by Repin after his release from prison, 1906

This time Nikolai Aleksandrovich served "only" 23 years for his political convictions. He was released under an amnesty in 1905. It's amazing what these years Morozov was able to use in order to completely change his life. The conditions of imprisonment were very difficult, the dangerous criminal was kept in the ravelin of the Peter and Paul Fortress, and later in the Shlisselburgskaya, but over the years the person who did not receive a university diploma managed to create 26 volumes of various manuscripts and learn eleven languages. The topics of scientific works were chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, aviation and political economy, and the scientist then published much of what was written in prisons. In addition - memoirs, poems and fantastic stories. Compared to this intellectual feat, the prison achievements of the Count of Monte Cristo pale!

The chamber of the Shlisselburg Fortress, in which Morozov was held for more than 20 years

This long "imprisonment" was not the last for Morozov. Then, in different years, he was imprisoned twice more - now for published books and anti-clerical poems.In total, this man spent almost thirty years in prisons. However, in the future, political activity faded into the background for Nikolai Alexandrovich. Thanks to his prison labors, he gained fame in the scientific community. Since 1909, the scientist was invited to the post of chairman of the council of the Russian Society of Amateurs of World Studies, and in 1918 he headed the Natural Science Institute named after V.I. P.F. Lesgaft, became an honorary member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The new government of the Bolsheviks treated the honored revolutionary with respect - after all, he was personally acquainted with both Karl Marx and Lenin.

By 1939, Nikolai Aleksandrovich Morozov was already a world-renowned scientist. He spent a lot of time in his former family estate in the Yaroslavl region, where an observatory was built especially for him and a scientific geophysical center was created (the latter, by the way, still exists). Morozov was already 85 years old then. However, the academician was not going to grow old. Perhaps he foresaw what seemed impossible for many then - an imminent war, and decided for himself that he was obliged to bring maximum benefit to the Motherland. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the fact that at such an advanced age, the famous scientist, together with the boys-graduates of schools, enrolled in the then popular defense society OSOAVIAKHIM for sniper courses. And having received the crusts about the successful completion, he regularly trained in shooting.

Nikolay Alexandrovich Morozov

In June 1941, the famous academician was in Leningrad. In the very first hours after the declaration of war, Nikolai Alexandrovich wrote a statement to the military registration and enlistment office with a request to send him to the front. Of course, there was a refusal. After that, the scientist organized a real siege of the military commissar: he bombarded him with letters, constantly called and threatened that he would complain to Comrade Stalin himself. He emphasized that he shoots well and talked about the design of a new telescopic sight, which he himself must test in combat conditions. The military commissar, in turn, understood that if the famous academician died on the front line, Comrade Stalin would ask those who allowed him there, so he did not give up for a long time.

In the end, they came to an agreement that the active old man would be sent to the front as a sniper, but as a volunteer on assignment, for a month. The officers of the Volkhov Front, to whom he got, also found themselves in an ambivalent position, but there was no way out, Morozov had to be sent to fight, since he was not going to sit out and asked not to make him any favors for his age. In the very first combat test, the honored academician showed what he is capable of. Taking a sniper position on the front line, he lay in the snow for more than two hours, and then with one shot took off an enemy officer.

In just a month of his military activity, Morozov killed about a dozen of the Nazis. Young snipers had a lot to learn from him - before each battle, an experienced scientist calculated corrections not only for wind, but also for air humidity. It soon became clear that the Nazis noticed a new excellent shooter. Almost after every shot, the places where he could be were immediately subjected to active shelling. The name of Nikolai Morozov was even included in the list of people sentenced to death in absentia by the Nazis. But the gray-haired old man seemed to be spellbound by enemy bullets and shell fragments.

Still from the movie "Ded Morozov"

At the end of the business trip, the valiant fighter was sent to the rear. For almost six months more, Morozov knocked down the thresholds of his superiors, demanding to return him to the front, but this time he did not receive such permission. One of the oldest participants in the Great Patriotic War not only lived to see Victory Day, but also sent a letter of congratulation to Stalin, in which he wrote: He died a year later, in the summer of 1946 at the age of 92.

A village in the Leningrad Region, several streets, Shlisselburg powder factories and even astronomical objects - a small planet and a lunar crater - are named after Nikolai Aleksandrovich Morozov.And in 2019, the series "Santa Claus" was filmed, in which the facts of the biography of this amazing person are quite accurately stated. The role of a gray-haired academician who fought at the front alongside young soldiers was played in this film by Aristarkh Livanov.

The adaptation of the biography of another great Soviet scientist Lev Landau caused a real scandal around the personal life of the famous physicist

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