This New Year’s celebration in Kuznetsk Basin was overshadowed with a sad event. In the local town of Tyazhin, a man has died whose feat was immortalized with the well-known memorial in Treptov Park, Berlin: a Soviet soldier who holds a little girl he rescued in one hand and a sword in the other hand. The prototype of the stone soldier was Nikolai Maslov, who was born in the little town of Kuznetsk Basin. In April of 1945, while participating in the seige of Berlin, Sergeant Maslov (participant of the Stalingrad battle and of battles in Kurskaya Duga) heard a child’s cry in one of the streets. In a ruined building, he found a little girl and carried her to a safe place, covering her from gunfire with his own body. After the war, sculptor Yevgeni Vuchetich met with the former soldier, whose feat was known to him from newspapers. Afterwards, Vuchetich created the sculpture of the liberation soldier for the legendary park in Berlin. For a very long time, discussions were carried out whether Nikolai Maslov was to be immortalized in a memorial or not. Finally, this was confirmed at the highest level. After the war, Nikolai Maslov settled in his native town and for his whole life, worked in a local kindergarten as the assistant manager. He was indifferent to his sudden fame, even not all of his relatives and countrymen knew that it was he who was recreated in stone and placed in the Berlin park. Nikolai Maslov was honorary citizen of Berlin, and he was even asked to move there, though he preferred to stay in his home town, where he died at the age of 79 years. The hero will be buried in Tyazhin, in the local cemetery.
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/crime/2002/01/11/35492.html
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