"There is no extra courage for a man,
who doomed himself to the dangerous service of the Partisan.
He must destroy the hope to taste
upon accomplishment of a feat, the fruits of heroic inspiration;
forget about the applause awaiting him,
praises and awards, and go for the right way
to inflict sensitive blows on the enemy,
perish with benefit, even a shameful death ... "
Denis Vasilievich Davydov
who doomed himself to the dangerous service of the Partisan.
He must destroy the hope to taste
upon accomplishment of a feat, the fruits of heroic inspiration;
forget about the applause awaiting him,
praises and awards, and go for the right way
to inflict sensitive blows on the enemy,
perish with benefit, even a shameful death ... "
Denis Vasilievich Davydov
Once upon a time in the days of the USSR, this name and surname were known to every Soviet schoolchild, but after the collapse of a huge country, they began to gradually forget about Zoya and her feat. And now, the feature film Zoya, released in 2021, again attracted public interest in this legendary Soviet girl.
Unexpectedly, the film split modern Russian society into two camps: some consider her act a real feat, while others, on the contrary, condemn and even call her actions a crime.
Moreover, the most surprising thing is that both of them do not know who Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya really was and what she did in the days preceding her death at the hands of the Nazis.
The vast majority of people have an idea of Zoya through reading various publications published back in Soviet times, written in the spirit of Soviet propaganda, and therefore often containing unreliable information.
Others learned details about the life and death of Kosmodemyanskaya mainly thanks to the movie Zoya they watched.
As a result, many people consider the truth not the truth itself (which is unknown to them), but various legends - fiction, versions composed by various authors in Soviet or post-Soviet times.
Those people who really knew the truth have long been gone from this world. And the memoirs left by some of them, again, cannot be taken as absolute truth, if only because people who served in special intelligence units never tell the whole truth about the specifics of their work and the tasks they perform.
Additional difficulties arise due to the fact that so far only a few documents have been made public containing information that only allows one to put forward cautious assumptions about who Zoya really was, in which military unit she served, in what military rank and in what position she was , and what task she performed shortly before her death.
It is likely that detailed information about the service of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya in the Red Army will never be declassified.
Therefore, versions about her activities during her stay in the ranks of the Red Army have to be built based on a minimum number of documents, and mainly through logical analysis, analogies and assumptions.
Formation of the image of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya in the Soviet press
The first stage in the creation of the legendary image of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya dates back to January 27, 1942, when an essay by war correspondent P. A. Lidov “Tanya” was published in the Pravda newspaper.
It said that in early December 1941, in the village of Petrishchevo near the town of Vereya, the Germans executed an eighteen-year-old Komsomol member from Moscow, who called herself Tatyana. From the stories of the villagers (who allegedly learned this from German soldiers), it followed that the girl tried to set fire to the building where the “important military facility” was located, but did not have time, as she was caught by a German sentry. The girl turned out to have a revolver with cartridges, bottles of gasoline and matches, so it was concluded that she was a partisan.
According to the residents of the village of Petrishchevo, the Germans subjected the girl to an intensive interrogation with the use of physical measures, but she stood firm and did not tell them anything.
However, after interrogation, during a conversation with one of the village women, the girl confessed to her that the day before the capture she set fire to the stable in Petrishchevo, where the horses of the German unit were.
The next morning
“... a bottle of gasoline taken from her and a board with the inscription “Partizan” were hung on Tatyana’s chest. So she was taken to the square where the gallows stood ... "
During the execution, Tatyana behaved courageously and urged the villagers to fight the Nazis. Her last words were:
"Farewell, comrades! Fight, don't be afraid! Stalin is with us! Stalin will come!
The article included a photograph of a woman with a rope noose around her neck, the inscription under the picture said: "The corpse of the Komsomol partisan Tatyana." How this photograph got into the newspaper was not explained in the article.
On the same day, January 27, 1942, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper published an essay by Sergei Lyubimov “We will not forget you, Tanya!”, where it was reported that she “... did not have time to set fire to the warehouse with military property.” Further, the essay provided a detailed description of torture with separate details that were not in Lidov's essay.
At the end of the article, the phrase "... everyone who knew her and saw her in a partisan detachment ..." was given, giving readers the impression that the girl was in a partisan detachment, that is, she was a partisan.
On February 16, 1942, the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Armed Forces was signed on awarding Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya the title of Hero of the Soviet Union
"...for courage and heroism shown in the partisan struggle in the rear against the German invaders..."
In addition to Zoya, two more partisans were included in this Decree: Mikhail Alekseevich Guryanov and Mikhail Nikolaevich Kuzin.
On February 17, 1942, the Decree was published in the Pravda newspaper, a large photograph of Zoya was placed next to it, and below it another decree and a list of other partisans awarded various orders and medals were published.
On February 18, 1942, another essay by P. A. Lidov “Who was Tanya” was published in the Pravda newspaper. It reported that the Komsomol partisan Tanya mentioned earlier in newspaper articles was actually Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya, a tenth grade student of school No.
Further in the essay it was reported that on November 18, 1941
“... with a group of Komsomol partisans, Zoya crossed the front line into the territory occupied by the enemy. For two weeks they lived in the forests, at night they carried out their combat mission, and during the day they warmed themselves in the forest by the fire and slept, sitting in the snow and leaning against a pine trunk ... "
Then Zoya, for unknown reasons, was left alone, spent two nights in the forest, then entered Petrishchevo
“... to an important enemy object and alone courageously fought against a whole pack of fascists who tormented her with insane cruelty ...”
Subsequently, a great many publications appeared, reporting more and more details of the heroic deed of Kosmodemyanskaya. And all of them had two features:
1) none of the publications published during the Soviet period indicated that Kosmodemyanskaya was in the Red Army, everywhere she was called a partisan;
2) the description of the details of her behavior in captivity was presented from the words of the inhabitants of the village of Petrishchevo.
Much later, several photographs were found of the dead Nazis, depicting Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya before execution. The details recorded in the photographs conflicted with the details set out in Lidov's articles and other publications. In particular, on the board hanging on Zoya’s chest, it was written not “partisan”, but “House setter”, below the inscription was duplicated in German. And no bottles from Zoya are visible in the photographs.
Summarizing the above, it can be noted that thanks to Soviet propaganda, instead of an honest story about who Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya really was, what relation she had to the Red Army and what task she performed, a beautiful legend was composed about a courageous partisan - a people's avenger who took a painful death from the hands of the enemy.
It is possible that to the people at the helm of Soviet propaganda during the Great Patriotic War, such an algorithm of actions to create semi-mythical images of folk heroes at that time seemed more correct than truthful stories about them and their actions in the course of the fight against the enemy. But time, as usual, put everything in its place and revealed a big drawback of this approach.
After the collapse of the USSR, publications began to appear where the authors, highlighting the generally correct facts that Kosmodemyanskaya was a fighter in a sabotage group and carried out the task of destroying villages by setting them on fire, but then, based on these facts, were made completely wrong conclusions: where they called her a fanatic, a criminal and an enemy of the Soviet people.
And many readers, completely unfamiliar with the events taking place in the Moscow region at the end of November 1941, and even remotely not representing the goals and objectives of the guerrilla-sabotage war, believed these conclusions.
Now we are witnessing the results of those fundamental mistakes that were made by Soviet propagandists during the war years and after it - lies and even “half-truths” built on omissions will never become a solid basis for instilling patriotism among the younger generation.
Let's try to install historical truth and clear the last days of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya's life from completely unnecessary propaganda husks.
Scarcity of documentary evidence
I want to note right away that it is not possible to restore with absolute certainty the events that took place with the participation of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya in the village of Petrishchevo, and to separate them from the legend composed in Soviet times.
To establish the actual course of events, the most important historical document is missing: the protocol of interrogation of Kosmodemyanskaya drawn up by the Germans. As well as other documentary data of the enemy: reports, entries in the combat log, etc.
The whole story of the feat is built solely from the words of people living in the village of Petrishchevo. At the same time, there is no firm certainty that the narrators stated everything with 100% accuracy (which is impossible in principle), that their testimony was sincere (without fiction or embellishment). And also that the testimony was recorded verbatim and subsequently (when published) were not changed to suit the Soviet propaganda guidelines that were available at that time.
It is only documented that Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya at the end of November or at the beginning of December (even the exact date is not known) was hanged by the Nazis in the village of Petrishchevo after being accused of intending to burn houses. Consequently, during the interrogation, the girl behaved courageously and refused to buy her life, paying for it with a betrayal of the Motherland.
If during the interrogation she confessed everything, then the Germans would have saved her life, as, for example, they saved the fighter of the same group to the traitor Klubkov. This very important circumstance is diligently avoided by Zoe's detractors.
It is also impossible to establish exactly with what degree of intensity the Germans conducted the interrogation, whether they used torture and what kind. The published Act of examination and identification of the body of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya dated February 4.02.1942, 1 [XNUMX] does not contain data on any injuries on the body and any other information about the condition of the corpse.
There is no mention of injuries to the body in the Act of exhumation of the corpse of Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya, compiled on February 12.02.1942, 2, during the next opening of the grave [XNUMX]. It only states that
"... The corpse is in a state of freezing, well preserved for identification."
What military unit did Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya belong to?
In the publications of the Soviet period, Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya was called a partisan, and in the post-Soviet period - a Red Army soldier acting as part of a sabotage group, i.e. a soldier and saboteur.
Who was she in reality, what does the phrase from Lidov's essay "...volunteer in the fighter squad" mean?
The search for an answer to this question is very difficult due to the almost complete absence of documents describing Zoya's activities after she left school and went to war.
The most significant is the historical document “Message from the commander of military unit No. 9903, Lieutenant Colonel A.K. Sprogis, to the Secretary of the Moscow and Moscow City Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League A.M. Pegov about the execution of Z.A. Kosmodemyanskaya, dated February 5, 1942” , which contains the information:
“... I inform you that the Komsomol member Kosmodemyanskaya Zoya Anatolyevna in October 1941 was mobilized to the front by the Moscow Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League. When performing a special task of the command of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Western Front on the front of the struggle against the German invaders on November 30 - December 1, 1941 at 11 o'clock in the village. Petrishchevo, Vereisky district, was executed by German fascists ... "
A. K. Sprogis also appears in another document - the Act of exhumation of the corpse of Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya dated February 12.02.1942, 2 [XNUMX], as one of those present.
I want to draw the reader's attention to the fact that the above documents do not indicate the military (in those years they wrote "military") rank and position of Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya.
It is known from numerous publications that Artur Karlovich Sprogis (1904–1980) was a well-known Soviet specialist in sabotage and guerrilla warfare and gained extensive combat experience in preparing and committing sabotage during the Spanish Civil War.
In the initial period of the Great Patriotic War, he was the head of the school for the training of partisan intelligence officers, demolition workers and commanders of reconnaissance and partisan detachments, which is documented as military unit 9903 and belongs to the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Western Front (hereinafter referred to as RO ZapF).
Therefore, since A.K. Sprogis prepared the first document above and appears in the second one, it can be quite reasonable to conclude that Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was directly related to military unit 9903 and RO ZapF.
But how to find out her rank and position?
Further, one has to approach the establishment of the truth by analyzing the available materials, using an analogy in some cases.
From the memoirs of a veteran of military unit 9903 Claudia Aleksandrovna Miloradova , it follows that she, together with Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya, was trained at the Sprogis partisan-sabotage school and in November 1941, together with Zoya, performed combat work as part of small groups that committed behind enemy lines various sabotage.
It can be assumed that at that time Zoya had the same rank and position as Klava Miloradova.
From the award list stored in TsAMO, we learn that K. A. Miloradova consisted
in the position of "fighter of the partisan detachment" and did not have a military rank:
The fact that many young women who were in the Sprogis unit did not really have military ranks at that time is also confirmed by the list of those awarded in the Order to the troops of the Western Front dated February 27.02.1942, 0230 No. XNUMX, where the ranks of the fighters K. A. Miloradova and M. I. Guseva are absent.
And also this conclusion is confirmed by entries in the award lists of many other young women who are subordinate to Sprogis, where in the column “military rank” there is either a gap or an entry - “does not have” or “volunteer”.
The foregoing allows us to make a very plausible assumption that at the time of her death, and Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya was in the position of "fighter of the partisan detachment", without having a military rank.
Is this possible?
Based on the information contained in numerous award documents, one can put forward the version that almost all young girls who were trained at the school of military unit 9903 went there voluntarily (not at the call of the RVC), were not connected with the Red Army by any legal obligations and did not took the oath, therefore, carried out the tasks of the RO ZapF exclusively on a voluntary basis, driven by their patriotism and desire to defend their homeland.
Simply put, they fought as "civilians" (not military personnel).
Consequently, the girls can be called both partisans and saboteurs, since they received appropriate training and acted behind enemy lines as part of small groups of 8–12 people who committed sabotage during short-term raids (usually lasting 7–10 days) on assignments from the ZapF RO. And after completing the task, they returned back - they crossed the front line and arrived at military unit 9903 to report the results of the raid. And then, after a short vacation, they again went to the next raid on the German rear.
And usually they did not return from the second or third combat exit - they died while performing the task ... And most often the circumstances of their death remained unknown, many are still missing ...
It is worth noting here that even crossing the front line when the group was following behind enemy lines was associated with the risk of detection by the enemy and death either from bullets and shrapnel, or after being captured, since the Germans considered all captured members of sabotage groups not military personnel, but bandits. And in case of refusal to cooperate, they were immediately executed by hanging.
And the soldiers of the Red Army who were captured were sent to the camp, therefore, they had a theoretical opportunity to survive.
In the process of crossing the front line when returning “to base”, the danger doubled, since, in addition to the probability of dying from German weapons or after the capture, there was a risk of falling under the friendly fire of the Red Army. Therefore, it can be concluded without any exaggeration that all these 17–20-year-old girls who went behind enemy lines to commit sabotage were real heroes, but, unfortunately, not all of them were awarded even medals by the country...
In modern terms, Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya was not connected with the ZapF RO by any legal obligations, she was formally a civilian, therefore, at any time after returning from the assignment, she could refuse further work behind enemy lines and return back to school. And no one would have condemned her for this - the leadership of the RO understood perfectly well how difficult for these young Komsomol women who went to war voluntarily, the tasks that were set for them.
Moreover, the girls could refuse to complete the task even during the raid. And in this case, too, they were not subject to any punishment, except for moral condemnation by their comrades.
However, Zoya never lost heart, and, returning after the first rather difficult combat exit, she, without hesitation, agreed to go to the next one.
She was a true patriot of her country and believed that she had no right to act differently at this difficult moment for her Motherland. She believed that every Soviet person should contribute to the common cause of victory over the enemy. And she went behind enemy lines a second time, from where she never returned, but by her death she earned immortality ...
There were thousands of such young volunteers in 1941, but none of them were lucky enough to receive such a high rank as Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. Many died without receiving any awards.
At that difficult time in the USSR there were a great many young people, real patriots, ready to give their lives for their Motherland without hesitation.
And none of them shouted from the high stands about their patriotism. Young people, schoolchildren and students, simply voluntarily went to war, asked to go where it was most difficult, and if there was no other way out, they sacrificed their lives for the sake of a common cause - the liberation of their homeland from the hated invaders.
About guerrilla warfare
Here it is necessary to briefly step back from the subject of research and briefly talk about the partisan movement in 1941.
Under the influence of cinematography, most people got the impression that the Soviet partisans were local residents who had gone into the forests and united in detachments for armed struggle against the German occupiers. That is, for the most part, these are “civilian” people - brave bearded men who periodically come out of the forests to destroy the Nazis.
And detachments from among the military personnel of the Red Army or the NKVD sent to the rear of the enemy to conduct an armed struggle are no longer partisan detachments, but sabotage groups.
In fact, guerrilla warfare is a very broad concept and implies many forms and types of armed struggle.
In our country, the partisan struggle first clearly manifested itself during the war of 1812. It was led by detachments from the Russian regular army, called parties. Hence the name "partisan" - a soldier or officer who fights behind enemy lines as part of a party.
Such detachments consisted of light cavalry, formed from the Cossacks, because they were best suited to carry out the specific tasks assigned.
In those years, guerrilla warfare was understood as the actions of armed detachments located behind enemy lines, with the aim of destroying transports delivering weapons, ammunition, food, medicines and other property to enemy military units. As well as the destruction of small groups of the enemy moving in the rear, communication couriers, lodgers, crossings, etc. 
The attack was carried out suddenly and, as a rule, with an overwhelming numerical advantage of the attackers. Simply put, the partisan detachments in that war conducted fleeting military operations, which later received the name “raid” in the tactics of special intelligence units.
As partisan commander D.V. Davydov put it very wittily:
“A certain number of Cossack detachments were launched on the route of communication of the enemy army: and as soon as they separated from our main forces, the hitherto serene enemy communication routes took on a different look - everything turned upside down and into chaos ...” .
The second activity of the parties in 1812 was intelligence.
The detachments were formed and led by experienced officers from the regular army (F.F. Winzingerode, D.V. Davydov, A.N. Seslavin and others).
An exception to the general rule was the partisan detachment organized by A. S. Figner. Initially, this officer was sent behind enemy lines as a scout. But then he formed a detachment from among the Russian soldiers and officers who were surrounded, as well as peasants from the local population who joined them.
Thus, in the war of 1812, the partisan movement arose not in the form of a spontaneous popular struggle against the invaders, but in the form of specially organized combat work carried out by army formations that had regular contact with the headquarters of the Russian army and acted under its leadership.
During the Great Patriotic War, the foundations of partisan struggle laid down in 1812 were preserved and only slightly expanded, supplemented by actions to destroy communication lines, bridges, small warehouses, destroy railway echelons and tracks, military equipment and vehicles, mine roads, attack enemy soldiers in places their lodging, etc.
During the Great Patriotic War, the expression "partisan detachment" was a very broad concept - this was the name of all armed detachments operating behind enemy lines, regardless of the method of their occurrence, composition and subordination. And the guerrilla war was called any actions carried out behind enemy lines that cause damage to him.
At that time there were 4 main types of partisan detachments:
1) created by party bodies (for example, detachments of Kovpak and Fedorov);
2) organized by the NKVD from the employees of this department;
3) formed by the intelligence departments of the Red Army;
4) spontaneously formed and consisting of fighters and commanders of the Red Army who fell into the environment and activists from among the local population who joined them and escaped from the camps of Soviet prisoners of war.
Also, the guerrilla struggle was carried out by underground groups. So they called people who remained in the occupied territory, but did not want to adapt to the new order and embarked on a deadly path of secret struggle against the Nazis.
The underground usually kept in touch with the partisans, collected intelligence information about the enemy; procured samples and forms of documents for the partisans; train schedules; medicines; food, etc. For this, many underground workers specially got jobs in German institutions.
Sometimes underground workers committed sabotage, for example, they planted special mines disguised as pieces of coal in coal heaps intended for use in locomotive furnaces, or attached magnetic mines to the bottoms of locomotives and railway tanks with gasoline, set fire to warehouses, etc. 
The documents I have studied allow us to suggest that in the autumn of 1941, the ZapF RO had not yet begun to form partisan detachments of 20 people or more, sent behind enemy lines for a long time, whose backbone was the Red Army soldiers (this will happen in 1942).
At that time, small partisan groups of 8-12 people were formed, consisting mainly of young men and women (sometimes only women), sent behind enemy lines for a short time (usually from 7 to 10 days) to mine roads, undermine bridges, destruction of wire communication lines, destruction of populated areas occupied by the enemy (by arson) and ambush attacks on small enemy groups and single vehicles moving outside populated areas.
Along the way, they also conducted reconnaissance, but since there were no radio stations in the groups, the intelligence received was reported very late, and therefore often lost its relevance.
In award lists, such detachments were called "partisan group" and sometimes even "partisan detachment". Basically, they were engaged in sabotage or, as they wrote in the documents of that time: "active reconnaissance."
That is, in terms of their structure and the status of the people involved, these were partisan groups participating in the partisan movement, and in terms of the nature of combat activity, they were sabotage and reconnaissance groups.
Consequently, the boys and girls who fought as part of such groups, who are not military personnel, can be called with equal justification both partisans and saboteurs.
This means that Zoya A Kosmodemyanskaya, without sinning before historical truth, can be called a partisan, a saboteur, and a scout. A partisan is her position and "legal status" as a participant in the war, a saboteur and intelligence officer are military specialties.
In modern terms, Zoya fought in a special forces group of the intelligence department of the Western Front and was engaged in special intelligence. At the same time, she was not a soldier and did not have a military rank.
According to today's ideas, this fact looks like a paradox, but in the fall of 1941, when the Germans rushed to Moscow, hundreds of young girls fought like that, not thinking about their legal status, awards, and even more so about some kind of post-war benefits. They were obsessed with the desire to destroy the Nazis by all available means, the rest did not matter to them.
And there is one more conclusion that can be drawn on the basis of documents: at best, they left this war disabled, and at worst, they died behind enemy lines while performing tasks.
And it is unfortunate that the names and surnames of most of these young heroes, who made their contribution to laying the foundation of the Great Victory, remained in obscurity ...
And those spiteful critics who are currently trying to present them as monsters and criminals (which we sometimes see in publications about Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya) can be called either mentally retarded or vile slanderers subject to public condemnation and contempt.
On the heroism of Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya
Even despite the lack of historically reliable details of the last hours of the life of Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya, it can be concluded that she was a real hero, and not created by Soviet propaganda organs.
And her heroism began to manifest itself not at all in Petrishchevo, but much earlier, when a Moscow schoolgirl, not subject to conscription under any circumstances, voluntarily went to war to defend her homeland.
And she went to serve not at the headquarters as a clerk and not even as a nurse, but asked to go where it was harder and least likely to stay alive - to the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Western Front to perform combat work behind enemy lines.
In my opinion, the most difficult for Zoya were not the last minutes of her life, when the girl accepted death with dignity. The main component of her feat is overcoming the difficulties, hardships and temptations that she had to experience and overcome on the long road to her death.
First, this ordinary Moscow schoolgirl (not even an athlete), as part of a small sabotage and reconnaissance group (DRG), consisting of young boys and girls like her, crossed the front line for the first time in early November 1941, which was already associated at the risk of being killed or captured.
Then, for many days, the group made many kilometers of raids behind enemy lines, moving mainly through forests and ravines. Young scouts spent the night in the forests and, observing measures to ensure secrecy, lit fires only in rare cases. Many had a cold, frostbite, and poor nutrition did not allow replenishing rapidly declining strength.
It was especially difficult for girls who were not able not only to perform elementary hygiene procedures, but even to wash themselves with warm water and dry their wet clothes to the end. Add to this the constant risk in intelligence work, since it was usually the women who were part of the DRG who went to reconnaissance in the villages occupied by the enemy under the legend of having previously been mobilized for the construction of defensive works and now making their way home.
Then the group, where the fighter Kosmodemyanskaya was, having completed the task, returns back, and the fighters are again in danger of being captured and killed when crossing the front line ...
After returning, Zoya could refuse further work as part of the DRG, say sick or ask for an easier service.
But such an act does not correspond to the girl's worldview: after a short rest, Zoya goes to the second combat exit behind enemy lines. And again, long passages, spending the night in the forests, hunger and cold fall to its lot. And the constant nervous tension caused by the danger of being killed or (which is much worse) being seriously wounded or captured.
It should be noted that in the second decade of November 1941, frosts in the Moscow region sometimes reached 16 degrees.
Imagine a strong, well-dressed and well-fed Red Army soldier who, during the battle, in a second impulse in front of his comrades with a bunch of grenades, makes a swift throw to blow up a German tank. And he dies the death of the brave, pierced by a machine-gun burst ...
Now imagine a frail 18-year-old girl: hungry, with a cold, chilled to shivering, exhausted by long transitions, constant sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and colossal nervous tension, who is forced to make her way to her last "tankfor many days and nights. And after being captured, she steadfastly withstood the interrogation, not broken, and then courageously accepted death with her head held high.
Which of them, in your opinion, was harder to overcome the difficulties that preceded their death and the feeling of fear and desire to survive inherent in every person?
It is with this view of the circumstances that the true meaning of the feat of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya becomes clear.
And it lies not only in her courageous behavior in captivity of the enemy.
The feat consists of many days of struggle with the hardships that befell this strong-willed girl, in the struggle with the natural temptation to show weakness, under a plausible pretext to leave her comrades and return home to her mother, to warmth and satiety. Or settle down in some locality and simply survive until the arrival of the Red Army, subsequently explaining the reason for leaving by illness.
Let me remind you that the girls included in these DRGs were not military personnel, they acted as volunteers, and therefore their departure from the group could not even be legally recognized as desertion. And in the general human understanding, such an act is difficult to condemn: it is impossible to demand from a person that which is beyond his strength ...
But the fighter Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya did not lose heart, this fragile girl with an iron will deliberately chose such a difficult path, went through it with dignity and to the end. She fought with the enemy with her last strength and until the final minute of her short life, and eventually died in order to save the lives of thousands of Soviet people ...
And the country (which has now turned into countries), for the sake of whose future Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya gave her young life, will never forget her. Remembering Zoya, we will always remember the exploits of many hundreds of young girls like her, who fought in small partisan groups operating in the Moscow region in 1941, but, unfortunately, remained little known or completely unknown in the history of the country.
Eternal glory to them, eternal memory and great human gratitude!
And their heroic struggle against the enemy will always be the clearest example of selfless service to the Motherland and the manifestation of mass patriotism of the young generation of Soviet people who are ready, without hesitation, to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the independence of their country.
About the order to "burn the villages"
Nowadays, many publications have appeared, stating that Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya allegedly did not accomplish any feat, and her actions are allegedly assessed as a savage crime, because she tried to burn (and even burned) houses belonging to peaceful villagers, leaving them homeless.
It is very difficult for me to judge what the people who issue such completely absurd statements are guided by. Such conclusions can be born either due to a lack of intelligence, or due to an overabundance of ignorance.
On November 17, 1941, the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command issued Order No. 428
"On the creation of special teams for the destruction and burning of settlements in the rear of the Nazi troops."
In pursuance of this order, the ZapF RO began to send sabotage groups behind the front line with the task of burning the villages where the Nazis were stationed.
Z. A. Kosmodemyanskaya was included in one of these groups, and, following the order of the intelligence department, she tried to burn down the village of Petrishchevo, occupied by the Nazis, in order to inflict damage on the enemy and deprive him of a recreation base.
To many people today, such actions may seem unnecessarily cruel, since the villages to be destroyed were inhabited, mainly by the elderly, women and children. And they could die in a fire or be left without shelter and property, which was also tantamount to death.
But do not forget that a brutal war was going on then, and during any war, civilians who find themselves in a combat zone suffer incalculable losses and hardships.
The hero of the war of 1812 Denis Vasilyevich Davydov at one time bitterly recalled:
“Here I just became convinced of the misfortune and disasters caused by the war to that class of people who, not acquiring in it, like us soldiers, neither glory nor honors, is deprived not only of the last property, but also of the last piece of bread, not only life, but also the honor of wives and mothers and dies, skinny and stricken in everything that he has dear and holy, on the smoking ruins of his homeland” .
Alas, this happened, is happening and will always happen in any war at any time ...
Some modern authors believe that the above order of the Stavka was inhuman in relation to the civilian population.
However, it must be taken into account that now, looking from the present, we all know that the Nazis failed to encircle Moscow in 1941, they were stopped in its vicinity. And then, during the December offensive of the Red Army, they were thrown back from the capital by 100–150 km. And, perhaps, this could well have been done without the destruction of the villages located in the German rear.
But then, in November 1941, the members of the Supreme Command Headquarters did not have such confidence. In those days, the Germans, grinding parts of the Red Army, stubbornly advanced towards Moscow, the forces and means of the formations of the Western Front were rapidly decreasing, and numerous divisions of the Red Army, hurrying to help from all over the country, were still thousands of kilometers from the capital. And it can be quite objectively concluded that in November 1941 the chances of Wehrmacht formations to surround Moscow were much higher than the chances of the Red Army units to defend it.
In order to fully realize the severity of the crisis that developed at the ZapF in those days, it is enough to carefully study this combat report stored in TsAMO:
The document states that on November 26, in the regiments of the 18th Infantry Division, which defended the approaches to the capital, the number of infantry (shooters) ranged from 85 to 238 people. And in the entire division, there were only 543 arrows.
In order to better understand all the drama hidden in such a sparingly presented information, it is necessary to find out that according to the wartime staff No. 04/601 in force at that time, about 1 riflemen should have been in a rifle regiment (including commanders of rifle platoons and the composition of reconnaissance platoons ), and in the rifle division there are about 270 riflemen.
So November 26th throughout the 18th division there were shooters seven times lessthan it should have been in a normally equipped rifle division, and even two times less than should have been in one rifle regiment.
And in the 1306th rifle regiment there were 15 times fewer fighters than it should be in the state.
Simply put, on November 26, 1941, the 18th division was actually defeated and was subject to urgent withdrawal to the rear for reorganization due to the complete loss of combat capability. But it was not possible to take her away, because there was no replacement for her. And this so-called division, two times smaller in composition than the completed regiment, continued to fight and even tried to counterattack the enemy, so that at the cost of the lives of the remaining soldiers and commanders, at least slightly weaken the offensive impulse of the enemy.
The situation with the presence of combat personnel was not much better in other rifle divisions that covered the approaches to Moscow in those days.
And how to stop the advancing enemy, with such meager forces and small reserves?
Moscow was the largest communication hub in the USSR, and its encirclement by the enemy in 1941, in addition to a significant disruption of transport communications, could cause an extremely unfavorable world resonance for the USSR, and ultimately lead to defeat in the war. And defeat in the war entailed not only the loss of independence of our country and its colonization by German settlers, but also (according to the fascist OST plan) the destruction of about a hundred million Soviet people.
Therefore, it was required at any cost to thwart the intention of the Germans to surround the capital - the outcome of the entire war depended on this. By the end of November, time was counting not even days, but hours.
Any damage inflicted on the Germans gave a gain in time, and a gain in time increased the chances of surviving. Minutes turned into hours, hours into days, and days increased the likelihood of fighting back, frustrating the enemy’s plans, holding out until the reserves arrived.
Giving the order to destroy settlements in the immediate rear of the enemy, the leadership of the USSR acted solely from the position of expediency - at any cost to gain time, contain the enemy, prevent him from encircling the capital and, as a result, prevent him from winning the war.
This decision expresses a well-known principle that has been applied in all wars since ancient times: we sacrifice a part in order to preserve the whole. And in this case, this part and the inevitable victim was the civilian population.
In 1941 in the village. Petrishchevo had more than 60 residential buildings. Consequently, up to 1 German infantrymen could rest there. By the standards of those days, this is the combat strength of almost an entire infantry regiment. If the village were completely burned down, then up to 200 enemies would be forced to spend the night on the street, which would undoubtedly worsen their physical condition and incapacitate some of the soldiers due to frostbite. And if the next day these fascists, unexpectedly caught in the cold, had been ordered to go on the offensive, then they would have gone into battle in a state of reduced combat capability, which means that it would be easier for the Red Army men to repulse their attacks.
And as a result, a precious gain in time would have been obtained, and the lives of many Red Army soldiers who had entered the battle with this weakened regiment would also have been saved.
And if 10 such large villages were destroyed, then up to 12 enemies would be in the cold.
This is what the idea of this order of the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command was.
In addition to soldiers, weapons, military equipment and vehicles of the enemy were destroyed during fires. For example, even the incapacitation of two horses could lead to a failure to deliver a light gun to the front line.
Thus, any damage, even seemingly insignificant at first glance, caused to the enemy by setting fire to houses in its location, increased the chances of the Red Army to withstand this most difficult period of the war.
It was for this purpose: to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible and reduce its combat capability by any means, hundreds of small sabotage groups were urgently sent to the front line almost to certain death. And their young fighters, sparing no effort, carried out orders and selflessly fought against the Nazis, often giving their own young lives in the name of saving Moscow and their homeland.
Hundreds of young girls, Moscow schoolgirls and students who fought as part of such partisan groups died during this struggle and are still missing.
And only the circumstances of the death of only one of them in 1941, by a lucky chance, became known throughout the country. And the country awarded her with its most honorable award, thus, as if paying tribute to all of them, these young heroes ...
Therefore, for millions of Soviet people, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was not just a brave Soviet girl, she personified a vivid image of all the young people of the pre-war generation who died in the fight against the enemy, defending their homeland!
Eternal memory and eternal glory to them!
 - Frontline Moscow. 1941–1942 Archival documents and materials, Publishing House of the association "Mosgorarkhiv", M., 2001, p. 566.
 – same source, p. 574.
 – same source, p. 567.
 – same source, p. 581.
 - Davydov D.V. Experience in the theory of partisan action, M., 1822.
 - Davydov D.V. On the partisan war. Publishing house "Pravda", M., 1942.
 - Davydov D.V. Military notes. M., Military publishing house, 1982.
 - Golitsin P. A. Notes of the head of military intelligence. M., Ceres, 2002.