Stela on Victory Square in Voronezh
The provocative topic was originally, some readers will say. But the purpose of the seminar, and indeed the whole meeting, is in fact that the younger generations of the two states have the opportunity to learn history, during which there were a lot of bloody pages. And the knowledge of historical retrospectives will certainly contribute to the fact that new generations of Russians and Germans do not repeat the mistakes of the past in their bilateral relations both at the state and at the domestic and civil levels. Although to whom provocations are seen in such events, he will bring the whole essence of the meeting to them.
The meeting was held in a completely on-duty format: the speaker - questions - answers ... Everything is grand, calm, with interest ... Many looked at the clock, getting ready to move, as they say, to the sweet table: samovar, fresh pastries, berry fruit drinks and everything in this kind of. As they say, nothing foreshadowed. But after one of the reports of a Voronezh student, whom she decided to end with the words that Voronezh, like Volgograd (Stalingrad), Moscow, Smolensk and a number of other cities, should have received the title of a hero city at one time, but this title is due to a number of circumstances passed Voronezh, something like an incident happened. Voronezh is a city of military glory, but, unfortunately, the citizens do not have the status of a hero city, the speaker said.
After a few seconds of delay due to the translation of her words into German, one of the German guests decided to ask a rather lengthy question, which, apparently, he initially kept in his arsenal, and which apparently did not dock with the plans of the organizers, clearly not associated with the transition to heated debate. But the German, who turned out to be not entirely German, but a German citizen with Hungarian roots, decided to “revive” the seminar and, as is now fashionable to say, to troll its participants and organizers. The young man, standing up and posing as Zoltan Riggert, asked why Elena (the speaker's name) believes that Voronezh deserves such a high rank as the title of the hero city, because in June 1942, the combined powerful group of German, Hungarian and Italian troops literally a few days later during the initial stage of Operation Blau, without any resistance, captured the right bank of the city, breaking through the gap at the junction of the Bryansk and South-Western Fronts? And why, - continued this very Zoltan from Germany, - in Russia in general there arose at one time the idea to give Voronezh the title of hero-city (and in 2008-m was given the title of the city of military glory), if the command did not initially take care of the defense of the city - once , did not evacuate civilians - two, and during attempts to recapture the city, parts of the Red Army inflicted more damage on the city than the fascist German armies - three?
The speaker, obviously choosing the words more tolerantly, wanted to answer, but Zoltan, having waited for the translation, continued: I think that it’s better not to talk about fame in the Voronezh battle at all, if only because Russian troops couldn’t take the whole grouping in January the enemy into the cauldron, as in Stalingrad, but at the same time cutting out, clearly crossing over human rights (direct quotation, author's note) 1943 of the Hungarian army - to a single soldier.
After the phrases “human rights” and “cutting out ... the Hungarian army”, it became clear that a young man with Hungarian roots is not a mere guest, it is a typical product of “advanced” Western democracy, who is not going to listen to the answers to his “questions” on the other hand, he is clearly going to act as a kind of Shukshin character from the notorious story “Cut Off!”, who was also “offended” at Russia for the fact that its fighters had once and forever calmed down his great-grandfather at Voronezh, as it turned out, who fought in that very Hungarian 2 armies (now for buried at the memorial cemetery in the village of Rudkino, which is several dozen kilometers south of Voronezh).
After his half-question-half-match, Zoltan sat down in a chair, drew a smartphone from his pocket, either starting to play, or just surfing the Internet, defiantly not perceiving what the speaker was saying. Like, I did my job, trolling took place, everything went according to plan, and you can go to berry fruit drinks with pies ...
I wondered if this Zoltan Riggert is a unique character, or in the Western society of such Zoltans, who are “not sure” of the glory of Russian front-line cities a dime a dozen ... Although we are German citizens, we have our own Zoltans there is enough ... And recently their number is becoming more extensive ... The editions of the 90 sample, in which the very role of the Soviet people and the command in the Victory was questioned, and the assistance of the Western allies seemed to take the lead, did their work.
Thoughts that Voronezh is not worthy of not only the hypothetical title of the city-hero, but also the title of the city of military glory, to be honest, it’s not for the first time. Well, in any way, you understand, certain circles of our fellow citizens and foreign “subjects” are not impressed by the fact that during 212 days the front line passed directly through the city itself. Not to impress them with the fact that in the city after his complete liberation only 8% of buildings remained intact, nor that at a certain stage of the defense of Voronezh, students of army courses, soldiers of the NKVD battalions and who weapon Thousands of locals who were able to resist the German-Hungarian-Italian armada and did not allow that, as they say, to occupy the city lightly. These people are not impressed either by the fact that for performing tasks during the Voronezh operation 40 people received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, nor the fact that Voronezh, like Stalingrad, did not submit to the enemy. Yes, in principle, no merit of Voronezh and Voronezh residents to the country and humanity is “impressive”, and therefore more than a strange discussion about the fact that Voronezh “is not worthy of glorious titles” continues to this day.
Memorial on Victory Square in Voronezh
The reasons for the “unworthiness” practically coincide with the fact that Zoltan from Germany, who had read the hyperliberal posts, said in his speech: the unfortified Voronezh, the retreat of the combat-ready parts of the Red Army, the remaining civilians in the city ... At the same time, the following conclusions are added: Voronezh was not needed, he was going to move his armies south (to Stalingrad) in this region, and here (on the banks of the Don) "only" inflict a crushing defeat on the Red Army in order to prevent the Wehrmacht when they move to the Volga and the Caucasus. In the style of: a bear doesn’t need bees, he needs honey ... Of course, he needs it, but only who can give it to him.
Well, indeed, Hitler did not demand from his generals that they necessarily take Voronezh and even leave them the right to choose: “to take or not to take”. The generals, inspired by the progress in quickly moving into the gap between the two fronts and thinking about the Don bridgehead to ensure success in the southern direction, decided not to miss the opportunity to take another major Soviet city (about 400 thousands of people lived in Voronezh at the beginning of the war). This fact itself suggests that Hitler and his army commanders once again did not assess the situation, but overestimated their capabilities and the fact that the combat-ready units of the Red Army were forced to retreat from the banks of the Don. A clear underestimation speaks of Hitler’s ill-matched thoughts about the fact that it is imperative to move towards the Volga, but you can do with small forces at the site of the confluence of the Voronezh river to the Don.
By 7 July 1942 had managed to evacuate several large strategic enterprises from Voronezh, but 100 did not plan to evacuate the city’s residents. When exactly the remaining hundreds of thousands of Voronezh residents in the city reproach the then leadership of the country, hinting that the city was abandoned by the army and the ruling elite, and therefore is not worthy of any titles, you want to ask the category of people practicing this particular paradigm: ? Did the Soviet Union have large cities whose population was completely evacuated? Moscow, for example, in the autumn and winter of 1941, was it empty? ... And perhaps, that at the initial stage of the battle for Voronezh (and by the way, there is no such official name in any official source) against the German fascist divisions on the approaches and in the city, for the most part, it was the townspeople who took up arms, not talking about their unprecedented feat, which glorified both themselves and the city itself.
From the diary of Franz Halder, Wehrmacht Army Chief of Staff, July 5 1942:
24-I tank the army and the Großdeutschland division risk being exterminated in the offensive on the fortified Voronezh.
So what happens: the chief of staff confuses something? .. After all, the guests from Germany and our internal "specialists" made us understand that Voronezh was not fortified and therefore had no resistance to the enemy. But Halder suddenly says that the occupation of the right bank of Voronezh for selected German units (the “Great Germany” division is an example of this) was almost a disaster. An easy, however, walk for the German troops, who laid tens of thousands of their soldiers only in the first days of the operation ... Only in one day of battle did Hitler's troops lose 13 of thousands of soldiers and more than 70 tanks.
"Easy operation", which the British historian and historian John F. Fuller in his writings calls the most fatal for the Germans. Fateful because the Voronezh Front created in July by Stalin allowed the German fascist troops on the banks of the Voronezh River to get bogged down and did not allow them to advance to the aid of Paulus 1942, which was left without support in Stalingrad, eventually defeated in the Volga boiler .
By the way, Voronezh during the Great Patriotic War became one of the very few front-line large Soviet cities, on which the teeth of the Third Reich army, as they say, broke off pretty badly, and which was never completely inherited by the Reich. The fact that the Germans in the right-bank part of the city occupied by the fascist troops in the right-bank part of the city could not create an administration with the involvement of the local population also speaks about the spirit of the Voronezh residents. Voronezh is one of the few cities where soldiers of the Reich and their allies had to perform police functions on their own, because representatives of the local population refused to put on white patches of policemen even after impressive information processing, as evidenced by numerous documents from GAVO. This state of affairs forced the Germans and their associates in the matter of sowing "democracy" and "getting rid of communist slavery" (Hungarian soldiers) to arrange a real massacre in the city. Surviving lampposts, trees, floors of dilapidated buildings and even monuments were turned into gallows in Voronezh. The photograph, which depicted a resident of Voronezh hung on the monument to Lenin, spread all over the world and served at the Nuremberg trials as one of the evidence points of the atrocities of the German fascist troops in the USSR.
The gallows into which the monument to Lenin in the center of Voronezh was turned
Is Voronezh worthy of a city of military glory? - This question itself sounds with obvious blasphemy. But is it worth it at all to give in to the provocations of those who claim that the contribution of Voronezh and Voronezh residents to the Great Victory is doubtful? - this is a significant question.
Here, in the course of the operation, over 340 thousands of enemy troops were destroyed. These are the 26 of the German divisions and the Romanian units, the two allied armies - the Hungarian 2 and the Italian 8. Voronezh is literally surrounded by a chain of mass graves in which soldiers and militia members who participated in battles with the enemy rest. Such graves only in the vicinity of Voronezh more 180. The bitterness in battles was such that even seasoned fighters called Voronezh a meat grinder, and the famous Chizhov bridgehead was the “valley of death”.
Memorial on the Chizhovsky bridgehead in Voronezh
The total losses of Soviet soldiers and civilians in Voronezh and Voronezh environs during the bloody battles for the city have not yet been able to be assessed with a sufficient degree of accuracy. By the most conservative estimates, the 212-day battle for Voronezh claimed the lives of half a million USSR citizens. This is the bloody wage, which ultimately allowed the defeat of the Nazi troops not only near Voronezh, but also on the Volga shores.
Memorial complex in the "Park of Patriots" in the Left Bank district of Voronezh
By the way, about human rights ... Soviet troops liberating Voronezh were faced with the very Hungarians (Magyars), whose notoriety was walking around the city. Residents of the occupied part of Voronezh told that it was the Magyars who decided more than others to curry favor with the Führer, burying civilians in the graves alive by the hundreds. The patients of the psycho-neurological dispensary, these “human rights-carers”, were pierced with bayonets, the medical staff of the clinics were killed with shovels, and posed against the background of mutilated corpses with smiles on their faces (nothing, by the way, reminds of today's realities?) led to the fact that among the prisoners of war who fell into the hands of Soviet soldiers, there were no Hungarians. Many participants in those events speak of a tacit agreement on “not taking any Magyars”. So, Zoltan from Germany would be worth seeing the photos that his valiant great-grandfather (and maybe great-grandfather himself) did in Voronezh, and after their attentive viewing about human rights to start a conversation.
Why wasn’t Voronezh given the title of Hero City? Here historians express different versions, among which there are both plausible and conspiratorial ones. We give several versions of different authors.
Version one: Voronezh has long been considered a semi-closed city with a developed aviation and space industry, and the status of a hero city implies an influx of tourists, including from abroad. To prevent the influx and possible manifestation of interest in the city’s industry, they did not give the title of the hero city of Voronezh.
Version two: officially, the cities began to be given the title of heroes in the era of friendship between the peoples of the socialist camp, and thousands of representatives of those countries that joined the socialist camp remained in the Voronezh land. And in order not to stir up the past, they say, they decided to refuse the requests of Voronezh citizens for the title of the city-hero.
This version looks somewhat strange, because quite a few representatives of states that have become socialist in the future lie in the Volgograd land, but no one doubted whether to give Stalingrad the title of hero or not ...
Version three, which, incidentally, was the cause of many misunderstandings about the role of Voronezh in the Great Patriotic War. According to this version, Voronezh did not receive the status of the hero city, as it was left by the army and came under the control of the enemy.
However, in order to associate the non-assignment of the status with the “control over the city by the enemy”, one must be immensely far from the history of the battle for Voronezh, especially since Voronezh is not the only city that the Red Army was initially forced to leave (in the case of Voronezh only part of the city), but this, however, did not prevent some other cities from obtaining the title of hero-cities, unlike Voronezh.
In general, it is not so important why the leaders of the country did not assign the heroic title to Voronezh at that time, however important it is for the current representatives of the younger generation to know about the role that Voronezh and Voronezh residents played during the Great Patriotic War and did not become a grateful "flock" for those inclined to alter history and review the outcome of the war.