General Vasily Petrov, soldier of Victory

General Vasily S. Petrov became a legend during his lifetime. Sculptor Valentin Znoba, who took part in the creation of the Museum of the Great Patriotic War on Poklonniy Hill in Moscow, chose him as a prototype for Soldiers of Victory. The officer who lost both arms in a war, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, remained in the armed forces until his death.

When in a hospital, Vasily Petrov asked that a pencil be attached to the collar of his shirt, and learned to write by holding it in his mouth in two months. First, he carefully spelled his name, then - his rank. Pilot Alexei P. Maresyev had both legs amputated, Vasily S. Petrov lost both arms as a young man.

Captain of Guard Petrov, who took part in bloody battles for the liberation of Kiev in 1943, received his first title of a Hero of the USSR when commanding 1850 anti-tank destroyer regiment that held the famous defense of Bukrynsky place of arms for two days. The 21-year-old officer replaced the killed gunners, and a shell explosion blew off both of his arms up to the shoulders. He was almost buried because he was believed to be dead.

Petrov remembers waking up in a hospital bed and feeling such unbearable pain throughout his body that he screamed until he was fully exhausted. Thinking that his life was over, he smoked a hundred cigarettes a day. Upon recovery, Petrov was offered a position of the second secretary of a district party committee in Moscow, but all he wanted was to be in the battle field.

In the spring of 1944, with the permission of the Supreme Commander Stalin, Major Petrov was again incorporated into the army. However, he learned about it only in 1982, the year of his 60th birthday.

The war was ongoing in Germany. There Petrov saved from his subordinates a German who nearly shot him. When asked why he saved the life of the person who nearly killed him, the Soviet officer said: "The war is over, and it is unfair to take a person's life."  

By a decree of the Presidium of the Soviet Union on June 27, 1945 Major Petrov was awarded his second "Gold Star" medal (№ 6091).

Later Petrov wrote his dissertation "Prince Bismarck and the emergence of the German Empire in 1860-1871." During his defense, Petrov was asked by the chairman of the committee: "Don't you think that you are singing praises of the capitalist way of life?" To which he replied: "I do not sing any praises, but merely stating the greatness of the human spirit and the superiority of a model order over chaos." After his words the audience burst into applause, Petrov admitted.

In 1963, Petrov served in a small town of Nesterov in the Lviv region as a deputy commander of the 35th Brigade of tactical missiles. Some of his colleagues tried to depict him as someone who does not pay party fees, arguing that there were no signatures on the fee stubs. Sometimes, Petrov's assistant would sign papers for him.

The vote on expulsion of Comrade Petrov from the Party was about to happen when an operations duty officer knocked at the door of the auditorium where the Party meeting took place. He said that he had an urgent message from the commander of the artillery of the Armed Forces of the USSR. After reading it, the brigade commander said: "Comrades, the Council of Ministers of the USSR awarded Colonel Vasiliy Petrov the rank of Major-General. "

Colonel-General Vasily S. Petrov lived the last years of his life in Kiev. Once he had to be hospitalized. While he was in a hospital, the house where he resided was sold, and his personal items and archives were thrown in the trash. The general's apartment was converted into a museum of the former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir who used to live in this house.

Petrov, who in March of 1994 by a decree of the President of Ukraine was assigned to stay in the military service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for life, lost his home and lived outside the city in the area of ​​government summer houses in the Concha Zaspa in a one-story wooden house.

Igor Bukker


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov