On November 29, 1941 German fascists hanged 18-year-old girl Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya in village Petrishevo of Ruzski District in Moscow region. It is time to tell the readers the real story of our country’s young hero.
Real Story of Heroic Deed
Contrary to the common belief, the raid beyond the front line in November 1941 was not the first in Zoya’s biography. At the beginning of November she already was in the Germans’ home front and put on fire several enemy’s vehicles. As for the events in village Petrishevo, almost every middle-aged and elderly Russian knows this story. But few know the truth about her heroic deed.
On November 17, 1941 German military was only 60 kilometers from Moscow, and Stalin signed a secret order #0428 for diversion groups to destroy the houses where German soldiers were accommodated. To follow the order, on November 21 two groups of ten volunteers each crossed the front line with the assignment to commit arsons in a number of villages in Ruzsky District. Every volunteer was given a pistol or a revolver, three bottles of inflammatory liquid “KC” (there is another information that it was kerosene), food ration for five days and a bottle of vodka. There is nothing compromising in having vodka for those young people because they had to overnight in the forest under the frost of minus 25 degrees Celsius. In addition, EVERY soldier and officer in the front was given 100 grams of vodka every day (Chaiman of the State Defense Committee’s Order # 562 from August 22, 1941).
The Germans got information about Stalin’s new order and increased the number of their guard patrols and started raiding in Moscow forests. The both groups were under fire several times, some volunteers died and or got lost. When the two groups met near village Uskovo on November 25, they had only 8 people out of 20. Five of them decided it was impossible to complete the assignment and they should return to the territory controlled by the Soviet Army. Only two boys Krainov and Klubkov and girl Kosmodemyanskaya stayed to make diversion in Petrishevo village.
Book “Story about Zoya and Shura” has the following version how the girl was captured by Germans: “She quietly reached another stable having 200 horses in the village outskirt. She took the bottle with gasoline out of her bag, poured the stable and leaned to fire a match when the guard caught her. The girl pushed him away and pulled out her gun, but did not have time to shoot. The soldier knocked the revolver out of her hands and sounded the alarm”... Another version of the event aroused in the period of “unmasking” Soviet history at the beginning of 90s. A hack writer said there were no fascists in Petrishevo at that time and they were called from the neighboring village.
Both the classic Soviet and post-Soviet invented version of the event have little in common with the reality. In fact, Zoya was betrayed to Germans by third group member Klubkov. There is no much information of him: before the war he was sorting out letters in a Moscow post office. After being captured he agreed to serve Germans, finished diversion school near the town of Smolensk and was brought beyond the Soviet Army front line. Soon Klubkov was arrested and executed by shooting after the Military Tribunal of the Western Front sentenced him to death penalty for treason. Before being executed on April 3, 1942 the treasoner told what really happened that night in November.
At about 2 am on November 27 ноября Vasily Klubkov, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya and Boris Krainov entered village Petrishevo from three sides: its Northern, Southern and central parts. The two houses where German trucks were parked soon were on fire. Klubkov also threw a bottle but it did not broke for unknown reasons. He saw a guard and ran to the forest, but two other German soldiers caught him and took to their commander – lieutenant-colonel Ryuderer. Klubkov told him that he was supposed to meet his companions Zoya and Boris in the forest after the assignment was completed.
All of a sudden, Boris went to the depth of the forest, meanwhile Zoya was naively waiting for her companions in the pre-arranged place.
Unfortunately, we would never know why Zoya did not fired at the enemy soldiers sent to catch her. Probably in the darkness she confused the two Germans with her companions Klubkov and Krainov. Or she could fall asleep because of exhaustion – by that time the young people had spent a week in the forest, meanwhile they had a food ration only for 5 days.
Besides, it is known that several days before her death Zoya exchanged weapons with another girl Klavdiya Miloradova. Zoya gave her friend her self-cocking revolver and took a revolver which had to be cocked by hands. Probably when Zoya realized that she was facing German soldiers instead of her companions she tried to shoot. But it was too late when she remembered that she should had cocked the revolver first.
It is known why the German soldiers tortured Zoya. She could not give new information about the diversion groups location because traitor Klubkov had told everything to the senior officer by that time.
Personally, I believe the Germans were beating Zoya for three hours with sticks and belts, burned her face with matches and took her being barefoot outside in the frost just for torturing the defenseless prisoner and not for her interrogation. Nevertheless, Evdokiya Voronina, the owner of the house where all this happened, recalled the girl refused identify Klubkov and called herself by invented name Tanya. She never asked the tortures for mercy.
Death for Motherland of for Stalin?
After learning the circumstances of Zoya’s death person authorized by the State Defense Committee in charge of diversion activity major Arthur Sprogis wrote in the application for awarding her: “Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya died as a hero with words: “Death to German occupants! Long life to the socialist Motherland! Long life to Comrade Stalin!” One should not condemn this person for his propagandist lie. He had to follow the rules of the time he lived in. The Germans brought to Zoya’s execution all the residents of Petrishevo, and we are well aware of her last words she told her executioners: “You’ll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are 200 million of us, and you can’t hang us all. My death will be revenged!” In the last seconds of her life the girl tried to raise the spirit of the villagers: “Farewell, comrades! Fight, don’t be scared…”
Zoya’s body was hanging in the village square for more than one month – the fascists did not allow the villagers to take it down. On New Year’s eve the drunk soldiers pricked the dead partisan with bayonets. Lieutenant-colonel Ryuderer ordered to destroy the signs of the execution before German’s retreat from Moscow. In the evening of January 1 the gallows was sawn down. On January 12, 1942 a unit of the Red Army Infantry Division # 108 entered Petrishevo.
Road to Nowhere
The monument to Zoya having inscription: “To Zoya, the immortal hero of the Soviet people” was erected in 86th kilimeter of Minsk Highway. However, Zoya was only one of the many girls sent to death in 1941 and voluntarily agreed to this. Few people know that a day before Zoya’s execution her companion from the same diversion group Vera Voloshina was killed. The fascists fiercely beat the girl with rifle butts and then hanged her near Golovkovo village. Vera was awarded the title of Hero of Russia only in 1994, when the Soviet Union she was protecting ceased to exist. The monument to Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was erected as the sign of memory of her heroic deed for other young people, and she became the symbol of the epoch when it was customary to think about your country first and only then about your own well-being.
Meanwhile, six months ago Delovoi Ural newspaper conducted the poll among the students in the city of Ekaterinburg if they know about Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya’s heroic deed. 80 per cent (!) of the students said “they never heard of this person”. The other 20 per cent also had different opinions: “being tortured, she did not reveal the location of Russian troops”, “she was the member of “Young Guard” organization for resistance to the occupants”, “set the Germans on fire and ran away”, “landed mines under the cars of enemy trains”.
The above answers demonstrate that 10 or 20 years later we can have the children who do not know who was fighting during that war. Therefore the current attempts of our Presidents to restore the nation’s morale with the propaganda of sport and physical training look naïve. The person having perfect physical health can be invalid in terms of morality… This kind of disability can be much more dangerous...
Source: Den information agency