Jan 3, 2022
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Unknown Maresyev: life and feat

Unknown Maresyev: life and feat

He was an ace pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union.

During the Great Patriotic War, his frostbitten legs were amputated. Despite his disability, the pilot continued to fly with prostheses. He flew 86 sorties. Shot down 11 enemy aircraft: 4 before injury and 7 after. Maresyev is the prototype of the hero of Boris Polevoy’s story “The Story of a Real Man”.


After school, the district committee of the Komsomol decided to send Maresyev to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Take it, and bother. Oh so, the functionaries in the district committee were indignant, then the ticket is on the table! Alexei threw, where indicated, a red-skinned booklet with only two orders. And then a deeply ideological mother said that the know no longer knew such a foolish son. The ashamed Leshka went to the district committee, apologized, and then went to the All-Union construction site. Where I signed up for the local flying club.

In 1937, Maresyev was drafted into the army and sent to serve in the 12th airborne detachment on the island of Sakhalin. He showed himself worthy there, for which he was enrolled in the Chita school of military pilots. A year later, the school was transferred to Bataysk, and it became an aviation school named after S.M. Kirov. Where, after graduation, he, a junior lieutenant, was left as an instructor. It was in this position that he met the war.

I wrote several reports with a request to send them to the front. In August 1941, he was enlisted in the 296th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Southwestern Front. The first sortie flew on August 23 near Krivoy Rog. The following year, the regiment was transferred to the North-Western Front. By that time, Maresyev had already shot down 4 German planes.

Maresyev's plane

And on April 4, 1942, in the area of ​​the so-called “Demyansk pot” during an operation to cover the bombers, a German knocked him out. Seriously wounded Alexei was forced to sit on the territory occupied by the enemy. For eighteen days on crippled legs, crawling he made his way to the front line, feeding on tree bark, cones and last year’s berries. However, I advise you to read about this at Polevoy. Better than he is still not to convey either the transcendent tragedy of what happened, or the unparalleled heroism with which the pilot fought first for life, and then for his place in it. And in the end he came out the winner.


How did Maresyev himself feel about what was written about him? You know, dear reader, he was very correct, the only correct reaction to the story, as befits a truly wise and strong Soviet man. Namely, he never positioned himself with a literary hero.

He always knew and understood perfectly well: in that Great and Holy Patriotic War, heroism was a mass phenomenon, almost an everyday norm. His brothers in the battle formation went to the ram, threw their destroyed planes at the accumulation of equipment and manpower of the enemy. Tankers rammed enemy vehicles and burned alive in theirs, infantrymen rushed to German bunkers, and sailors went to the bottom with their ships. People quite often went to their death consciously, without primitive fanaticism, realizing deep in nature: without their outrageous efforts, a cruel and powerful enemy cannot be defeated. But what can I say, if his, Maresyev’s, personal feat was repeated many times by his front-line brothers-in-arms.

So Alexei Petrovich was never bursting with pride that it was he who was honored with such unheard of literary honor and glory. And, perhaps, this great spiritual nobility of a real Soviet man was most clearly manifested after Polevoy’s story was transferred to the screen in 1948 by director Alexander Stolper. Here is what the wonderful actor Pavel Kadochnikov said about this: “What is there to be modest, I am mostly praised for the cinema. But no one gave me such a wonderful compliment as Lesha Maresyev. He said after watching the film: “Petrovich, you didn’t play me. Well, what can be so remarkable about me? And you played the thoughts and aspirations of all combat pilots of that great war. Therefore, from all of them, thank you very much. ” Believe me, I didn’t have the best review of my work ”.


Rumor has it all dissects the relationship of the author of the “Tale …” with its hero. The most common version: Maresyev and Polevoy were jealous of each other’s fame and on that basis were almost at enmity. What can be said here with certainty?

Maresyev always treated Boris Polevoy with reverence, even to the fact that the writer changed his last name to Meresiev. He said: “And Boris Nikolaevich did the right thing. And then suddenly I would have turned out to be a drunkard, or began to vandalize. Then the book would be banned. ” Alexei Petrovich never showed any irritation with the so-called “love line” of the story. Although he repeated more than once that nothing of the kind could even be close: “I could not stand in a draft because of the loss of strength. What kind of love is there. ” At the funeral of Polevoy Maresyev was not really present – he was on a business trip abroad. But the first thing I did after returning from abroad was to go to the Novodevichy cemetery, plot number 9, and there laid a wreath on the grave of his elder friend. Yes, the pilot and the writer, of course, did not lead friendships, but that they were at enmity – sheer nonsense.

Maresyev was in fact a scrupulously modest and incredibly conscientious person. He did not tolerate any special attitude towards himself sincerely, and not ostentatiously. On the contrary, he emphasized in every possible way that he was the same as everyone else.

Once Maresyev appeared on television with Yuri Gagarin. In the evening of the same day, I could not sleep for a long time. When his son was questioned, he replied with a question: “What do you think, Vitya, I probably should have poked Yura in vain? Still – the first cosmonaut in the world. On the other hand, we are a sidekick with him. And I am eighteen years older than Yyrka. ” They often went fishing together. Maresyev helped Gagarin to acquire a boat. But I was ashamed to buy myself …

The so-called perestroika Maresyev took almost with hostility. And the “Belovezhsky Conspiracy” became a personal tragedy for Aleksey Petrovich …

On the eve of the 1967 Victory Day, the opening ceremony of the Eternal Flame Memorial was held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Lit from a fire on the Champ de Mars, the torch was delivered to the capital. At the Alexander Garden, Alexei Maresyev received the fire and, accompanied by two banners, made a marching step towards Secretary General Brezhnev. He lit the Eternal Flame.

In the first years after the war, only Heroes of the Soviet Union and the disabled received benefits. A large-scale expansion of the volume of benefits and the circle of persons to whom they were provided began with the coming to power of Brezhnev. And here the personal contribution of Maresyev cannot be overestimated. Alexey Petrovich was on excellent terms with Leonid Ilyich. It was in those years that separate queues were established for them to receive housing, cars, some products and scarce goods.

When, in the perestroika years, some “liberals” tried to hurt Alexei Petrovich with this supposedly servile act, he always calmly retorted: “I gave the torch not to the general secretary, but to the front-line soldier, who was always very sincere and caring for those who fought. But Gorbachev and Yeltsin never once asked me how they live, or rather, how the veterans live out their lives. “

Mikhail Zakharchuk

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