Hero of the Soviet Union

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Hero of the Soviet Union (ru: Герои Советского Союза, Belarusian: Героя Савецкага Саюза) was the highest honorary title and the superior degree of distinction of the former USSR. It included the Order of Lenin (the highest Soviet award) and, as the sign of excellence, the Gold Star medal with the certificate of the heroic deed (gramota) from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (highest executive body of the land). The award was established on April 16, 1934. If a person was a recipient of several Hero awards, the Lenin Order was given only once, with some exceptions in later times.

The total number of persons who were awarded this title is over 12,500. The great majority of them received it during the Great Patriotic War (11,635 Heroes of the Soviet Union, 101 twice Heroes, and 2 thrice Heroes). A famous war hero was for instance Alexander Matrosov who received the distinction posthumously after he died blocking an enemy machine-gun with his own body.

The first recipients 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 sunk in Arctic waters, crushed by ice fields, on February 13, 1934.

There were 154 people to receive the award twice. A second award entitled the recipient to have a bronze bust of his likeness with a commemorative inscription erected in his homeland.

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

The only men to receive the title four times were Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Leonid Brezhnev.

In 1970s the award was devaluated. Important political and military persons have been awarded on the occasions of their age anniversaries, without immediate heroic activity in its direct sense. However the first breach of the tradition (and the statute of the award) was made by Zhukov, when he was awarded for the fourth time "for his large accomplishments" on the occasion of his 60th anniversary as early as 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, however, was not put in the records.

In 1988, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR abolished this award to be given more than once.

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.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, this title was succeeded in Russia by the title Hero of the Russian Federation and in Belarus by Hero of Belarus.


Sample List of Receiptients




Four times

See also

es:Hroe de la Unin Sovitica fr:Hros de l'Union sovitique pl:Bohater Związku Radzieckiego ru:Герои Советского Союза sl:Heroj Sovjetske zveze


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