Military Review

Mikhail Devyatayev. From a concentration camp to the sky!

In the great exploits of mankind precisely because
that they rise so high above ordinary earthly affairs,
something incomprehensible is concluded ...
Stefan Zweig

History the heroic feat of Soviet prisoners of war, which consists in escaping from fascist captivity on a hijacked plane, is still amazing. After 67 years after the daring hijacking of the legendary “ten” German “Heinkel”, the act seems even more daring and implausible. The period of the Great Patriotic War is full of many surprising and glorious deeds of Soviet soldiers, however, the personality of Mikhail Devyatayev stands out among all this kaleidoscope.

8 February 45 from the “Goering Nature Reserve”, the so-called secret concentration camp, which tested aircraft and rocket development, was boldly stolen by the Henkel 111 bomber. To better understand how bold and fantastic was the plan of the Soviet pilot, it was necessary to explain what the military base was. On the island there was a missile test center, defended by an air defense system, an aircraft fleet, and an SS unit.

Combat aircraft were located on a special airfield and were strictly guarded. All the prisoners of war moved through the base under the supervision of armed escorts, and for the night were transferred to the barracks, which were firmly locked. The convoy was located throughout the facility, and the base was considered classified. Those who were guilty and sentenced to death from other German camps were taken to the island of Usedom, they were not taken care of too much and were treated as consumables. However, the prisoners were fed a little so that the prisoners had the strength to work. The daily ration consisted of a piece of bread, a cup of balanda, and three boiled, half-rotten potatoes. According to Mikhail Petrovich himself, as well as his contemporaries, there was only one way out for the captive inhabitants of this base - the crematorium chimney; therefore, the fugitives did not fear their lives for too long. The story was first published orally in the same victorious 1945 year among concentration camp prisoners. On board the plane was a group of Soviet prisoners of war, headed by Mikhail Petrovich Devyatayev, brought to the base as a labor force.

The escape was prepared for a long time, and the group’s candidates were carefully selected. Devyatayev differed excellent organizational qualities. During the period of preparation for the hijacking of the aircraft, the conspirators managed to eliminate from the working site, located near the airfield, all dubious and unreliable people. They got rid of some of them, acting out thefts, others were injured, the group was inventive in the methods. At first, Devyatayev got close to the prisoner of war Sokolov and the equally talented organizer Krivonogov, after which the creation of the main secret team began. Many sympathized and helped the conspirators.

In early February, Devyatayev seriously argued with criminal elements in the camp, as a result of which he received "10 days of life", that is, his death was due to expire. During this terrible period, the unfortunate was subjected to beating, harassment and bullying. This circumstance served as an additional reason for the implementation of the plan. Long before 8 in February, Mikhail Petrovich began, in secret from the escorts, to study the cockpit structure and control panels on the example of the broken parts of aircraft on the adjacent landfill.

How was a pilot allowed to the base with military aircraft, even if a prisoner? The fact is that after an unsuccessful attempt to make a tunnel and escape from New Königsberg, Mikhail Petrovich was sent to a death camp, in which a lucky chance brought him to a hairdresser who handed him a token of a deceased teacher. So the military pilot became a Ukrainian G.S. Nikitenko. The history of the prisoners was not studied in detail, so there were quite a lot of Soviet soldiers on the territory of the base, posing as other persons from among the civilian population.

A serious miscalculation of the German leadership was that a man like Devyatayev was on the territory of Peenemünde. Already 24 June 1941 Mikhail Petrovich shot down his first enemy aircraft, in 44-m he defeated many enemy vehicles, delivered goods and medicines, transported the wounded. A talented pilot with tremendous combat experience and ingenuity was close to the newest armament of Germany. The result was not long in coming, the escape was as audacious and fantastic as the whole service of this person.

Mikhail Devyatayev. From a concentration camp to the sky! Despite the fact that the plan was being prepared long before the desperate enterprise, the group did not know what kind of aircraft would be captured. By chance, the legendary top ten managed to get on board the Gustav Anton, which was a Graudentz personal car. The group cruelly dealt with the escort and, hiding behind his greatcoat, got to the plane. This is not to say that the takeoff went smoothly. At first, the car turned out to be without a battery, which had to be searched for, being afraid of being detected, then the aircraft could not take off for a very long time due to the fact that the steering wheel was set in the landing position. However, the nature of Devyatayev did not allow the fugitives to surrender and the plane took off. In an interview, Mikhail Petrovich told how once in a camp he had a chance to watch the launch of the Heinkel 111. The pilot, in mockery of the interested prisoner, without realizing it, revealed to Devyatayev all phases of the engine start, which later played a decisive role in the success of the enterprise.

The take-off of the car from the airfield was not immediately noticed, which gave the team precious minutes and a chance to avoid a strike from the ground. The message that "Gustav Anton" took off, was transmitted over the phone to Graudentsu by the head of the air defense. The chief lieutenant did not believe what had happened until he personally was convinced of the absence of a car. The “Catch up and destroy” command was given immediately, but time was lost and Gustav Anton was out of reach. Information about the desperate act of the Soviet pilot and other prisoners of war spread throughout Germany. Himmler and Borman were frantic. Graudenz’s head was saved by a forced lie that the plane was shot down over the sea.

In the air, fleeing several times changed direction, fearing to fly an enemy plane through the territory of the Union. As a result, the landing occurred near Woldemberg in the location of the Soviet troops. The prisoners sincerely believed that they were rescued, but they were still awaited by tests in a filtration camp. Wartime did not spare anyone, and even people exhausted by the fascist captivity were suspected of treason. Those who fled did not complain to the Soviet Union, which is understandable, since the history of salvation still looks fantastic today. Even without finding a basis for the trial of Devyatayev, the command did not trust him with the aircraft. Mikhail Petrovich worked up to the river station in Kazan until 1957, where Korolev found him. Devyatayev was not accepted to positions of responsibility, despite the fact that he had a diploma of a captain. The heroic deed and the fascist captivity was placed in the guilt of a brave pilot who had saved nine more valiant Soviet soldiers. Mikhail Petrovich readily agreed to Korolev's proposal to show the assembly and testing sites of the legendary German V-2, since he remembered well the place of his detention. For assistance in creating the first military missile of the Union P-1, Devyatayev was awarded the title of Hero of the USSR.

Unfortunately, most of the brave dozens after returning back to the front and died, they are also awarded posthumously. This incredible and desperate act went down in history only after the recognition of Devyatayev and his merits. He wrote several biographical works “Flight to the Sun”, as well as “Escape from Hell”, and after 1957, he often gave interviews.

At the end of November, this hero's 2002 was gone. The man of wartime legend, who remained in the shadow of more than 10 years and today is not very famous among his compatriots, although his feat deserves special attention. Devyatayev serves as the epitome of valor and loyalty of Soviet officers and soldiers, and his act must be passed down from generation to generation.

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  1. grizzlir
    grizzlir 15 February 2012 08: 48
    Miracles sometimes happen in war. One chance out of a thousand can be used. A good article, we must not forget how we fought, fought the enemy behind the front line and forged our ancestors victory in Tula.
  2. Aleksey67
    Aleksey67 15 February 2012 09: 44
    After more than 60 years, ours from Kandahar also (by plane) fled wink It’s better not to take Russian prisoners, you’ll suffer angry
  3. 750
    750 15 February 2012 09: 53
    It's great that the prisoner, the criminals did not break the will of the man. He used everything he had to achieve his goal, and he probably had a strong determination, despite the seeming impossibility. Whether he felt fear, for sure, but judging by his act, he did not fetter him, but spurred him on. Moreover, the enemy was also afraid of him and therefore guarded, did not feed. I often said to myself in my dreams: "If I were there, I would wow!" But in real life it continued to be a dull vomit. And once I realized that in order to accomplish a feat in dreams, it must be accomplished today, now. To be late for work, but give a light to a neighbor. Stop on the track and help pull the Schumacher out of the ditch. Having a little, lend to someone who does not. Do not run away into alcohol, a computer from the shitty reality, but accept it and love it. I believe that everyone who took a mortal risk in the war without hesitation, gave his life for others, had a BIG heart. And itself. on its own it did not become so. You can increase it, every day, little by little, to be a MAN, a hero now, for half an hour, every day, not for show, so that when the need arises - without hesitation to act, because you are so used to living every day, for real.
  4. Dust
    Dust 15 February 2012 11: 08
    In fact, the story is fantastic, although it is better to read about it in other sources ....
    Devyatayev, however, fought under the command of Pokryshkin, was a well-deserved pilot, and, in any case, he was not held captive for several weeks, if his memory serves (in principle, at least for a few days, because a concentration camp is not a resort!) ...
    The author would ask, why were they afraid to fly through the territory of the Union? Moreover, it was far enough from the then territory of the USSR ...
    And why was the Queen in 1957? Our first artificial satellite has already taken off, preparing a human flight. so the location of the German missile bases could help little in this matter ...
    1. Dust
      Dust 15 February 2012 12: 44
      I got a little confused, it turns out - Devyatayev was captured in August 44, and this is a lot more than a few weeks, but the author got more - even Vicki says that at first Devyatayev indicated the exact coordinates of the starting positions, which contributed to the successful raids of our aircraft, and Korolev found Devyatayev in the filtration camp already in September 45, and not at all in 57 ...
      1. ikrut
        ikrut 15 February 2012 19: 58
        Yeah. messed up. Although not slightly.
        And so I wanted to dig up some "compra" and dirt. Yes?
        The launch sites of the Peenemünde missile center were swept away by the British in one day with "flying fortresses" in the summer of 43. And not on a tip from Devyatayev. After that, there was nothing left of the launch sites. And the center itself was moved to another location from this island. Only laboratories remained on the island. And there were no "successful our raids" on starting positions in 44, since the positions themselves were no longer there.
        And Devyatayev was not in this center, but most likely in the service and defense aerodrome.
        1. Dust
          Dust 15 February 2012 20: 04
          Why? What for?
          I don’t know about the raids - that’s how they wrote on Wiki, but I didn’t check whether they wrote the truth or not - I just looked in to check my statement about the relatively short stay of Devyatayev in captivity ...
  5. Strabo
    Strabo 15 February 2012 11: 39
    For assistance in creating the first military missile of the Union, R-1 Devyatayev was awarded the title of Hero of the USSR Yes, it was awarded not for heroic escape, not for delivering an enemy combat unit, not for courageous behavior in captivity. So he is essentially twice a hero of the USSR. Any other country would disseminate this feat to an incredible size. And the whole world would know about him. Yes, on this example, you need to educate the patriots. A real feat.
  6. schta
    schta 15 February 2012 11: 59
    About filtration camps correctly said.
    People arrive on a new German plane. They say that they stole their captivity from a secret missile base. Who will believe it? A check is necessary. There were few Abwehr agents ???
    But Devyatayev is well done, a desperate man!

    PS: Question. What happened to those who were held captive? Destroyed all at once?
    1. gland
      gland 15 February 2012 18: 48
      You know, I'm reading and I can add a lot about this case, my grandfather, Nikolai Glotov was a pilot, they photographed enemy objects, were shot down, somewhere in Moldova, he is the only one of the three crew members: (shooter-radio operator: Yuri Makhov and navigator, I can't remember the last name) survived after the plane crashed, was captured in an unconscious state, was taken prisoner in the same camp where Devyatayev was ... they had different barracks in accordance with "crimes and rank", but the purpose of the escape was common! One of the attempts was this: they hid in the attic of one of the houses, sat down and hid there ... hunger, not aunt, but here they see our Russian peasant is coming ... well, his, that yours, bring some food. he seemed to help, even he was delighted, they say, of course, I will help you in the evening, wait ... after half an hour the Germans had already surrounded the house ... he said that there were a lot of their corrupt ones ... trying to gain at least something for themselves ... was !!! also passed their own and at the Devyatayev airfield he got like this: a worker who worked at the airfield died, the pilots were not allowed to approach this car, and indeed to the object !!! he changed numbers !!!! so gradually I got to know the car ... So tell me there is a silver lining !!! I have a video recording I made it 2 years ago, my grandfather's brother tells in more detail how it happened ... he himself, died 15 years ago, and then I didn't want to ask something about the terrible, my grandfather always could not hold back his tears, talking about war even at school when they were invited to tell something about her looking at us could not hold back tears ... after the third unsuccessful escape he was sentenced to death ... and when he and another prisoner were led to execution outside the camp on some narrow path it turned out that the guard was one and the second, they came too close as if on command to run in different directions, so he fled ... I will not tell you further, as they say, another story ... whether the second escaped he does not know. .. and to tell how ... already in peacetime, the local KGB constantly looked after him ... here's a story with one of the accomplices in this story
      1. ikrut
        ikrut 15 February 2012 19: 43
        Desperate guys were. Eternal glory to them!
        My father (already deceased), being a snotty kid-ordinary ONE from the environment from Kharkov came out. With weapons and documents. Ten days out. At night - he ran - slept in the fields during the day. Fortunately, the athlete was good. Several times miraculously escaped captivity. Then I got to Stalingrad. He was wounded in the fall in the city. And in the winter, he already participated in stopping the breakthrough of Manstein’s tanks. And from there he reached Vienna.
        Devyatayev is a real hero! And there were many of them at that time. They survived.
        1. Dust
          Dust 15 February 2012 19: 52
          And my grandfather didn’t go there in May 42 — he was a tanker, but he wasn’t there anymore, they were preparing for a breakthrough, one of the group went to find out if there were Germans in the village, they carefully told him that they weren’t, and they left from the forest, there they were laid all ...
          Thank you to one resident of the village that I saved my grandfather’s documents before the release, when they buried the dead, then take off for a long time our family talked, and only a year the grandfather was missing ...
  7. SIA
    SIA 15 February 2012 12: 22
    Well done Devyatayev. He hijacked a plane, and even saved people.
    1. Punch 2011
      Punch 2011 15 February 2012 21: 55
      By nationality - Mordvin from Torbeevsky district, often came to his homeland
  8. 755962
    755962 15 February 2012 14: 03
    We sing a song to the madness of the brave. There are more such articles. You need to know your heroes by sight.
  9. Vasilenko_SG
    Vasilenko_SG 15 February 2012 18: 47
    on such examples, it is necessary to educate our youth. However, neither in history books, nor in cinema, with the exception of old films, such examples, unfortunately, are not. Oh, so sorry. In addition, it is a tribute to those who won this terrible war
  10. alex_9797
    alex_9797 15 February 2012 22: 25
    That's what I understand Hero
  11. does it
    does it 15 February 2012 23: 26
    I read in my childhood "escape from hell" it is so much courage and will, despite the fact that they were still almost helpless.
    1. gland
      gland 16 February 2012 03: 07
      Grandfather said about her that there was a lot not as it was, but yes ...
      1. does it
        does it 16 February 2012 20: 44
        Devyatayev himself said that the book "Escape from Hell" was written for him by others based on his stories ...
  12. kopar
    kopar 26 December 2012 10: 53
    A real Russian man.
    1. Kosik
      Kosik 1 October 2017 21: 07
      If he is a Mordvin
  13. December
    December 19 August 2013 10: 32
    It is a pity that after such an escape the heroic fell into disgrace and verification.
    But as my friend’s grandfather told, the artilleryman was a prisoner when I asked if all these interrogations after returning and release were offensive to him, if he had betrayed, etc. - he said No, because he saw how many betrayed ours in the same camps.