Military Review

Otto Yulievich Schmidt - Soviet Arctic explorer

18 September (30 September new style) 1891 was born in Mogilev Otto Yulievich Schmidt was born - the future eminent Soviet scientist, mathematician, geographer, astronomer, explorer of the Arctic and Pamir conqueror, Hero of the Soviet Union and Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Soviet storyPerhaps, he does not know a more versatile scientist, and his expedition on the steamer Chelyuskin will never be forgotten. There were times when Otto Schmidt in the Soviet Union was no less famous than Yuri Gagarin. 2016 marks both 125's birthday and 60 years since the death of this great Russian scientist: he passed away on September 7 of 1956.

Otto Schmidt's ancestors on the father’s side were German colonists who moved to Livonia (modern Latvia) in the second half of the 18th century, on the maternal line the Latvians named Ergle. The Schmidt family spoke in three languages: Russian, German and Latvian. At the same time, Otto Yulievich himself later noted that, according to his self-consciousness, he is Russian. The father of the future academician served as a petty trade officer, first in Mogilev, then in Odessa. Here, too, passed the early childhood of Otto Schmidt, as well as the first years of his studies. In addition to him, the family had four more children.

The family lived quite poorly, so all the children could not get a decent education. However, Otto, the eldest son, quite early discovered his abilities, curiosity and giftedness, the craving for knowledge. For this reason, the family council, it was decided to help him with education. From childhood, Otto worked in the stationery shop, so he knew perfectly well the price of labor and money earned. In many ways, the training of the gifted boy in the gymnasium was made possible thanks to the help of his Latvian grandfather Fritzis Ergle.

Schmidts moved to Kiev in the 1907 year, at the same time Otto entered the second men's classical gymnasium, immediately into the second grade. In 1909, he graduated from high school with a gold medal, receiving a complete secondary education. In the same year, he continued his studies, enrolling in Kiev University in the physics and mathematics department. Here he studied until 1913. While still a student at Kiev University, Otto Schmidt, under the leadership of Professor D. A. Grave, began his studies in the mathematical theory of groups. After completing his studies in 1913, he was left at the university to prepare for a professorship in mathematics. From 1916 year - privat-docent.

Otto Yulievich Schmidt - Soviet Arctic explorer

Otto Schmidt accepted the October Revolution 1917 of the year, in 1918, he joined the RSDLP. According to him, the revolutionary events in the country prompted in him a "man of will, action." On the personal order of Lenin, he worked on the preparation and implementation of a number of projects of the young country, was a member of various colleges of people's commissariats, and was at the forefront of the organization of the higher education system. In particular, from 1918 to 1920 the year he served on the board of the People's Commissariat of Education, from 1921 to 1922 to Narkomfin, from 1921 to 1922 and from 1924 to 1927 to the People's Commissariat of Education, from 1927 to 1930 the year is a member of the Gosplan Presidium. In addition, at the same time he worked at the State Academic Council of the USSR SNK, from 1924 to 1930, he was a member of the Presidium of the Communist Academy. At the same time, from 1923 to 1956 for the year, he was a professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow.

Already then, the contribution of Otto Schmidt to the system of education and enlightenment was invaluable. He became one of the founders and chief editor of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1924-1942 years), the most complete and widely known Soviet universal encyclopedia, whose circulation was measured in tens of thousands of copies. The fundamental restructuring of the foundations of algebra, which occurred at the end of the 1920s, presented new requirements for the teaching of the subject at universities. On the initiative of Schmidt, a department of higher algebra was organized at Lomonosov Moscow State University, and then a research seminar on group theory was organized. The department and the seminar quickly became one of the main algebraic centers of the Soviet Union. Otto Schmidt himself, from 1929 to 1949, was the head of the Department of Higher Algebra in Physics and Mathematics and the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of Moscow State University.

In 1928, Otto Schmidt took part in the first Soviet-German Pamir expedition, which was organized by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The purpose of the expedition to the Pamirs was to study the structure of glaciers, mountain ranges, passes and climb the highest peaks of the Western Pamirs. In 1929, the Arctic expedition was organized and successfully carried out on the Sedov icebreaking steamer. Otto Yulyevich Schmidt became the head of the expedition and the “government commissioner of the Franz Josef archipelago”. The expedition members successfully reached Franz Josef Land; in Tikhaya Bay, they created a polar geophysical observatory.

In 1930, the second Arctic expedition was organized in the USSR on the Sedov icebreaking steamer, which was again led by Schmidt. As part of this expedition, the islands of Vize, Voronin, Dlinny, Domashniy, Isachenko, the western shores of the Northern Earth (archipelago in the Arctic Ocean) were discovered. One of the islands discovered during the expedition was named after Schmidt. Love to the north and the Arctic contributed to the fact that Schmidt became the head of the Main Industrial Policy Directorate at the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR, he held this post from 1932 to 1939 a year. It was the expedition led by Otto Schmidt in 1932 that was able to navigate the entire Northern Sea Route (NSR) on the Sibiryakov icebreaker in one navigation, thereby initiating regular shipping along the shores of Siberia.

In 1933-1934, under the leadership of Otto Schmidt, a new Arctic expedition was conducted, this time aboard the Chelyuskin steamer: the purpose of the expedition was to test the existence of the possibility of navigation on the Northern Sea Route on a non-ice-class ship. This expedition was one of the most memorable in the history of research in the Arctic and the life of Schmidt himself, this is his finest hour. At the time of the death of the steamer "Chelyuskin" in the ice and in arranging the lives of the surviving crew members of the vessel on the ice, Otto Schmidt showed strong will and courage.

The steamer “Chelyuskin” with a displacement of 7,5 thousand tons was specially built by the order of Soviet foreign trade organizations in Denmark. The ship was originally intended for navigation between the mouth of the Lena River (hence the original name of the ship - Lena) and Vladivostok. For its time it was the most modern cargo-passenger ship, which was confirmed by its technical data. 16 July 1933, the steamer “Chelyuskin” commanded by polar captain Vladimir Voronin and the head of the expedition of the Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Otto Schmidt sailed safely from Leningrad to Murmansk. 2 of August of the same year, taking on the 112 man, the Chelyuskin left Murmansk to Vladivostok, practicing the scheme of cargo delivery along the NSR during one summer navigation. It was supposed that specially dispatched icebreakers would help the ship on difficult sections of the route.

The first ice floes of the expedition met already in the Kara Sea when leaving the Matochkin Strait. With the help of the icebreaker "Chelyuskin" was able to overcome the solid ice and continued his movement to Vladivostok. 1 September 1933, the steamer reached Cape Chelyuskin. In the Chukchi Sea, he again met with solid ice. On November 4 of the same year, thanks to a successful drift along with the ice, the steamer Chelyuskin entered the Bering Strait. When miles were still clear, the ship was carried back northwestward. As a result, the ship drifted along with the crew for almost 5 months - from September 23 1933 to February 13 1934, when it was crushed by ice, after which it sank in just two hours. Fortunately, the crew of the ship and the leadership of the expedition prepared for this in a timely manner and took the necessary measures, unloading everything necessary on the ice beforehand. The last steamer "Chelyuskin" left Voronin, Schmidt, and also the manager of the expedition Boris Mogilevich.

As a result of the disaster, 104 people found themselves on ice. The participants of the Arctic expedition built huts from the boards and bricks rescued from the ship. As a result, the Chelyuskin camp was evacuated with the help of aviation, the first plane made its way to the camp on March 5, 1933. In total, Soviet pilots completed 24 flights, transporting people to the Chukchi camp Vankarem, located 150 kilometers from their ice camp. Under the leadership of Otto Yulievich, all 104 people who spent two months in a polar winter on an ice floe were saved. First of all, women and children, as well as patients, were evacuated from ice captivity. They were sent by planes further to the village of Uelen, and only then to the bays of Providence and Lawrence.

In 1937, on the initiative of Otto Schmidt, the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics of the USSR Academy of Sciences was organized (Schmidt himself was the director of the institute until 1949, and then until his death in 1956, the department head). In 1937, Schmidt managed to organize an expedition, in the framework of which the first scientific station “North Pole-1” was equipped in the very center of the Arctic Ocean. In 1938, he headed the operation to remove the drifting station personnel from the ice floe. By decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council on 27 June 1937, Otto Yulievich Schmidt was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union with the award of the Order of Lenin after the establishment of the sign of special distinction for this title, Schmidt was awarded to Otto Yulievich Schmidt of the drifting station North Pole-1. awarded the Gold Star Medal.

The contribution of Otto Yulievich Schmidt to astronomy was that in 1940-s he put forward a hypothesis about the formation of the Earth and other planets of the Solar system. Above the cosmogonic hypothesis of the formation of bodies of the Solar System as a result of condensation of a near-solar gas-dust cloud, he worked with a group of like-minded scientists until the end of his life. According to this theory, small particles of a protoplanetary cloud first stuck together, forming bodies of small size, and only then turning into planets. Otto Schmidt, as a theoretician, was especially credited with the fact that he was able to prove the fundamental possibility that the Sun could encounter a protoplanetary cloud that he had encountered. Thanks to his hypothesis, it was possible to give a scientific explanation of the distribution of the angular momentum between the sun and the planets of the solar system. For the first time, she was able to reconcile many astronomical, geological, and geophysical facts. For example, she was able to explain the observed regularity in the distribution of the planets of the solar system and was in excellent agreement with the estimates of the age of our planet by the age of terrestrial rocks. Otto Schmidt’s hypothesis has become an important contribution to stellar dynamics and celestial mechanics.

Otto Yulievich Schmidt died 7 on September 1956 of the year (at the age of 64 years) in Moscow, where he lived in the last years of his life. Until his last days, he did not cease to engage in scientific activities, in particular mathematical research. He was buried in the Russian capital at the Novodevichy cemetery. Otto Schmidt’s name was: an island in the Kara Sea, a peninsula located in the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, a cape on the coast of the Chukchi Sea, a pass and one of the peaks in the Pamir Mountains, as well as the Institute of Physics of the Earth; numerous streets in the cities in the post-Soviet space, the avenue in Mogilev, the Museum of the Arctic in the Murmansk Gymnasium No. XXUMX. The first research icebreaker in the Soviet Union, which was launched in the 4 year (1979-1979 operating years), also bore the name of Otto Schmidt. In addition, the O. Yu. Schmidt Prize was established in the 1991 year of the Russian Academy of Sciences for outstanding scientific work in the field of Arctic exploration and research.

Based on materials from open sources

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  1. V.ic
    V.ic 7 September 2016 07: 50
    The last encyclopedist!
    1. Igor V
      Igor V 7 September 2016 11: 02
      The last encyclopedist was, rather, Sergey Vavilov. And scientists of encyclopedic knowledge can be called, for example, Anton Ivanovich Efremov, biologist, geologist, paleontologist, tofonimista (a science founded by himself), paleogeographer, writer, traveler. His predictions in science fiction stories came true by 67% and can still come true, with Jules Verne - 50%.
      An important quality of Otto Yulievich was excellent organizational skills. He could even have a semi-literate carpenter spark interest in the sciences and he began to learn on his own.
      O.Yu. Schmidt was one of those leaders who moved the Soviet Union forward, and those who want to understand the phenomenon of this rise cannot bypass the figure of Schmidt.
      1. qwert
        qwert 7 September 2016 12: 39
        Good article. Usually what do they know about Schmidt? Chelyuskin epic. AND EVERYTHING!
        Therefore, the articles revealing the talent and contribution to the science or military affairs of our compatriots, I consider the most important in
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 7 September 2016 07: 53
    Outstanding person ... Thank you ...
  3. Amurets
    Amurets 7 September 2016 09: 11
    Our other equally famous polar explorer, Hero of the Soviet Union Ernest Krenkel, responds very warmly about Schmidt. And here the expedition to transfer the destroyers Voikov and Stalin along the Northern Sea Route from Kronstadt to Vladivostok, led by O.Yu. Schmidt, is not mentioned.
  4. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 7 September 2016 11: 05
    I love, I know Otto Yulievich from childhood, I am interested in him! I first read about him as an astronomer in the old book of the astronomer Vorontsov-Velyaminov "Essays on the Universe." There was shown his hypothesis of the origin of the solar system, and calculations and formulas associated with this hypothesis. This hypothesis was very different from the hypotheses of Kant and Laplace on this topic.
    Otto Yulievich swimming on Chelyuskin read in the newspaper.
    Very happy with this article. Many thanks!
    1. Amurets
      Amurets 7 September 2016 11: 56
      Otto Yulievich swimming on Chelyuskin read in the newspaper.

      Dima! Greetings! Ernest Krenkel in my RAEM book has a lot of information about O.Yu. Schmidt, as a polar explorer. It has a lot about Chelyuskin. In principle, Schmidt took Krenkel as a radio operator.
      1. Reptiloid
        Reptiloid 7 September 2016 19: 30
        Have a good morning, Nikolai, given the time difference!
        I really liked the article. However, I want to add that in 1913 Otto Yulievich graduated from Kiev University, in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union --- from 1918. Member of the Board of a number of People’s Commissariats. In 1937, at the initiative of Otto Yulievich, the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was organized, where he was a director until 1949, and also one of the organizers of higher education, science, and publishing.

        The peninsula in the northern part of Sakhalin Island is also named after Schmidt, as well as the Schmidt ice plain - a vast decrease in the ice surface of East Antarctica. It was discovered by seismic sounding by the Soviet Antarctic expedition in 1957-59.
        I read this in the 29th volume of TSB, 3rd ed.

        I also want to add that no matter how I try to read more on the history of Our Motherland, and generally on the history of peoples and states, there are always a lot of unread, unexplored!
  5. Igor V
    Igor V 7 September 2016 11: 07
    The article is definitely a plus. Our history must be known.
    But the inaccuracy was jarring: "... the last to go to the ice ...". Unfortunately, Boris Mogilevich did not get off the ice, he died in the waters of the Arctic Ocean along with the Chelyuskin.
    1. V.ic
      V.ic 8 September 2016 06: 12
      Igor V "Boris Mogilevich did not get off the ice, he died in the waters of the Arctic Ocean along with" Chelyuskin ".

      He foresaw his fate after "debriefing", as a financially responsible person.
  6. Shadowcat
    Shadowcat 7 September 2016 17: 30
    The man thanks to whom the northern sea route was possible, as well as securing the Arctic for us
  7. old_pferd
    old_pferd 8 September 2016 10: 59
    "Chelyuskin" sailed across the Chukchi Sea like a spherical horse in a vacuum :)

    "On October 15" Litke "took on board the GUSMP people who arrived on foot from" Sverdlovsk "," L. Schmidt "and" Chelyuskin "and continued to stand waiting for the transfer of sick passengers from the" Anadyr "by plane and on October 29, in total coal reserves for two days, having waited for only one batch of passengers in the amount of 11 people, was forced to follow to Provideniya for a new bunkering. At this time, the steamers "Sverdlovsk" and "L. Schmidt", having corrected the list, on October 18 drifted together with ice at first in the direction of Cape Serdtse-Kamen, then under the influence of weak easterly winds, the ships were carried along with the ice approximately 50 miles north of this cape, and with the transition of the wind to the north-west on October 26, these ships resumed drifting in a favorable direction, i.e. to the southeast and on November 1, after finding themselves near the edge of open water in thin ice approximately at latitude 65-30 north and longitude 169-00 west, they entered open water.
    On November 2, they arrived safely at Providence.
    At that moment, the sub "Chelyuskin", finding itself in a huge frozen ice floe, drifted with the entire mass of ice and was near Cape Dezhnev. "
  8. Starik72
    Starik72 14 February 2017 15: 56
    The great man was Otto Yulievich !!! How are we currently lacking such people !!!
  9. RoTTor
    RoTTor 12 October 2022 17: 41
    There is not a single memorial tablet in honor of O.Yu.Shmidt at Kiev University, so it would be worthwhile, if not the whole university, then the geographical department, to be named after him.
    So he is not a Petliurite and not a Banderaite.

    The Kyiv Polytechnic Institute was recently named after Sikorsky, although he, too, produced many glorious graduates. BUT Sikorsky, a surname, by the way, of Polish origin, never Ukrainian, was a staunch Russian monarchist and Ukrainophobe, did NOTHING for Ukraine. on the other hand, he became a US citizen and an American aircraft designer, which is why he was awarded ...
    \ Will have to rename