Captain's fate

11 April 1945, the underground International Resistance Committee, which operated in Buchenwald - one of the worst Nazi death camps - ordered the beginning of an armed uprising (now 11 April - International Day for the Release of Prisoners of Fascist concentration camps). One of its organizers and leaders was a native of Nizhny Novgorod land, a man of amazing fate, Valentin Yegorovich Sitnov ...

Crew to fight and flight ready

ОHe was born in 1918, in the village of Diveevo, which nestles among the centuries-old forests in the very places where the well-known righteous Seraphim of Sarovsky once did good deeds.

Nature generously bestowed on Valka Sitnova, not stingy to let him go with a full measure of both the bogatyr force, and the youthful article, and the rollicking distance. And I didn’t forget to put a light head on my planted shoulders. In the 30s, there was one road to such eagles - to the sky. Therefore, at the same time having graduated from the chemical technical school and the flying club in Dzerzhinsk, Valentin received a Komsomol ticket to the school of military pilots, and after training there, he was sent to a heavy bomber regiment of the Leningrad Military District. I barely managed to get used to the team and master the new technique, as the Finnish campaign began.

The crew of a young pilot dropped bombs almost daily on enemy fortifications near Vyborg and Kexholm. For a successful strike on a naval base on the Kotka Sitnova peninsula, they awarded the Order of the Red Star. Valentin made his forty-fifth combat sortie in that short Winter War two days before the signing of the peace treaty.

Then Sitnov had to fly in the south, over the Donbas and the Black Sea lowland, the Crimean peninsula and the Black Sea. And then the Great Patriotic War struck.

For two years, Valentine more than two hundred times went on combat missions. He was hit six times. Twice the car burned in the air. Three times he had to land the plane, being lightly wounded. But every time a bomber reached its home airfield.

Over the machine, riddled with Messerschmitov bullets, fragments of anti-aircraft shells, engineers and technicians conjured. Above the wounded pilot, navigator and arrows - doctors and nurses. After a few days, Sitnov again reported to the regimental commander: "The crew for the battle and flight is ready." And again raised the plane in the front sky.

Captain's fate

In the early summer of 1942, the photograph of Senior Lieutenant Valentine Sitnova went around all the national newspapers. The group of heavy bombers headed by him destroyed oil storage tanks in the area of ​​the Romanian city of Ploiesti, which kept strategic fuel reserves for the entire southern grouping of enemy armies. A few days later, destroyed the bridge and the oil pipeline across the Danube on the railway between Bucharest and the port of Constanta, for a long time interrupting the supply of the main naval base of the enemy on the Black Sea. For the fulfillment of this special task, Valentine Sitnov 20 was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on June 1942.


His plane was shot down in June forty-third. Valentin, by this time already the captain and commander of the squadron, led the eight IL-4 to bombard one of the fortified areas in the Donbass. When the group embarked on the battle course for bombing, the entire fire of the German anti-aircraft guns focused on the lead. From the direct hit, the right engine flashed, after a few seconds the left engine engulfed the flames. Hope to reach at least to the front line did not remain. And Sitnov - for the first time in two years of war - ordered the crew to leave the burning bomber. He was the last to jump when the fire was already approaching the pilot's cabin.

As soon as the parachute's saving dome opened over his head, Valentine lost consciousness. He came to himself already at dusk: an elderly woman from a mining village, not far from which a captain had sunk into a ravine covered with dense bushes, was washing the face of a pilot with cold water. Having firmly decided to make their way through the front, Sitnov handed over to her for storage a flight tablet, party membership card, officer ID, shoulder straps and orders, leaving only a pistol and a Gold Star on a tunic under a burnt overalls. What for? Perhaps Valentine himself could not explain.

For four nights, he slowly wandered eastward, each time at dawn, hiding in the craters from air bombs or shallow hollows. And on the morning of the fifth day, trying to get over the big man, ran face to face with a German patrol. From the snatched pistol captain failed to make a single shot. The only thing that was possible, while he was knocked down with his feet, was trampled down with boots and beaten with rifle butts, was to thwart the hero's star, put it in his mouth and firmly squeeze his teeth. Neither the first nor the subsequent interrogation, no matter how hard the executioners, he did not utter a sound.

After several weeks of detention in the field filtration point, the “silence”, together with other Soviet prisoners of war, was taken to a concentration camp located in Poland. Two months later, Sitnov tried to escape. He was captured, beaten half to death. New camp, new failed escape. And the direction to the blockhouse of suicide bombers in Auschwitz. After some time, Valentine and several of his comrades ended up in Buchenwald.

Not broken in hell

240 thousands of prisoners from 33 countries of the world passed through this concentration camp. 56 thousands were slain in crematoriums and "medical" laboratories. But even inside such a hell, people found the strength to actively resist fascism. In the 1943 year, separate Buchenwald underground cells, formed along national lines, united into an International Committee, which began to coordinate prisoners' actions in the struggle for self-liberation.

After the defeat at Stalingrad, the Nazis began to use the prisoners of Buchenwald and other concentration camps in military enterprises, replacing the German workers mobilized into the army. Machine guns and carbines were delivered from factories to the camp at great risk to life in a disassembled form, which were then collected and stored in safe caches, equipped in the basements of the camp boiler room. Ammunition was also stolen in small batches. In deep secret in the underground workshops was established production of homemade hand grenades.

Simultaneously with the workpiece weapons The committee worked out several variants of the uprising, for the implementation of which the formation of combat groups was going on. At the time of their arrival in the camp of Valentin Sitnova, there were 178. Along with other prisoners there were over 850 soldiers and officers of the Red Army. The captain, connected with the underground workers from Auschwitz, was entrusted with the leadership of several groups that were assigned one of the most difficult tasks - to capture and hold the camp gate.

The security of Buchenwald, who was accustomed to seeing wordless and uncomplaining slaves in her "wards", had to deal with organized and cohesive armed force. It took Valentine and his fighters about twenty minutes to destroy the SS men who were at the gates. It took less than an hour to release all of Buchenwald. Over 21, thousands of prisoners, including 914 children, the youngest of whom barely turned four years old, were saved from destruction.

Only in the morning of April 13 Americans approached Buchenwald ...

In June, the forty-fifth Allies handed Captain Sitnova to representatives of the Soviet command. The verification of the former prisoner did not take a lot of time from the military counterintelligence officers: there were plenty of witnesses to the decent behavior of the officer. And the Golden Star, which he kept in Hitler's captivity, played a significant role. In August, Valentine, reinstated in military rank and with returned awards, appeared before his comrades in the long-range bomber regiment, which at the time was based in Poland. The joys of friends, who did not care to see him among the living, knew no bounds.

Autumn came, followed by winter. The new year, 1946, is about to come. The first post-war, truly peaceful. And everything seemed to be behind ...

... From the report of the Chief of the Special Section of the N-th Aviation Regiment: “In the evening of December 20 1945 of the year, the gangster attack of the Polish nationalists was made on the vehicles that brought the crew from the airfield to the residential town. In the ensuing skirmish, Hero of the Soviet Union, Captain Sitnov Valentin Egorovich, was killed. ”

And at that time he was barely twenty-seven ...

Igor Sofronov
Ctrl Enter

Noticed a mistake Highlight text and press. Ctrl + Enter

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in