Posted 5 мая 2021,, 16:28

Published 5 мая 2021,, 16:28

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

The first with a flag on the Reichstag: why Koshkarbaev and Bulatov did not become Heroes of the USSR

The first with a flag on the Reichstag: why Koshkarbaev and Bulatov did not become Heroes of the USSR

5 мая 2021, 16:28
The state still pretends not to notice the feat of the Red Army fighter, who was the first to hoist the Soviet flag over the Reichstag.

Sergey Baimukhametov, publicist

Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev and Red Army soldier Grigory Bulatov, who planted the first flag on the Reichstag, were struck out of the nomination for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1945. In 1999 Koshkarbayev was awarded (posthumously) the title of People's Hero of Kazakhstan. And Grigory Bulatov, despite numerous appeals from the public, never became a Hero of Russia.

And suddenly a post appeared on the official page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on Instagram on April 30:

“Among the first heroes to climb the steps of the Reichstag were 20-year-old Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev and 19-year-old Red Army soldier Grigory Bulatov. The soldiers carried a homemade Banner - a flagpole with a simple scarlet cloth. According to the combat log of the 150th division, at 2:25 pm they crawled on their bellies to the central part of the building and placed a red flag on the stairs of the main entrance. This was the first of the banners hoisted over the Reichstag by the soldiers-liberators".

Much is not clear here. Why it's on Instagram? Why exactly the Foreign Ministry?

Is this an indirect admission of common official guilt by one of the departments of the federal government? Indirectly, because the Ministry of Defense and the Commission under the President of the Russian Federation on State Awards to numerous appeals from the public responded that they did not find grounds for awarding Grigory Bulatov with the title of Hero of Russia.

Victory Banner from a cover from a German feather bed

My elder friend and teacher Vasily Efimovich Subbotin went through the war from the first day of June 22, 1941 to May 2, 1945 - the day the fighting in the Reichstag ended. He brought from Berlin a small square of dense red cloth - from a feather bed cover from a bombed-out German house. And he placed it in a glass frame along with newspaper clippings of his poems, including the most famous - "Brandenburg Gate", written in Berlin in May 1945 and later included in poetry anthologies:

The chariot of war does not thunder.

Why didn't you leave the chase,

At the top of the Brandenburg wall

Fighting German horses?

Here is the arch. We pass under it

The court is fair and strict.

The arrogant sovereign horses

Iron legs are broken.

This red tick square is a particle of the first flag on the Reichstag, which was installed by the reconnaissance platoon commander Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev and the Red Army soldier Grigory Bulatov on April 30. Now the granddaughter of V.Ye. Subbotina Maria Baskova.

From the diaries of Senior Lieutenant Subbotin:

“May 3. I write hastily, like everyone else these days... I return once again to what happened all these days both in the Reichstag and on the approaches to it...

Behind a slab of asphalt turned out of the embankment lies a soldier with a swarthy face. This is Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev, the platoon commander. The party commission, which met a day earlier in the "Himmler house" (as our soldiers called the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, opposite the Reichstag - SB) accepted Koshkarbayev into the party. Maybe that's why battalion commander Davydov summoned him, Koshkarbayev, giving him a piece of red cloth, one of the flags...

Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev, a young soldier Grigory Bulatov, and after them others jumped out of the window of the first floor of the "Himmler house" onto the square on which the Reichstag stood. The flag that had been given by the battalion commander was now lying on his chest, under Koshkarbayev's sweatshirt. A short forward throw, after which I had to lie down. Looking around, Koshkarbayev saw that the fire cut off the others, that they were left alone with Bulatov. Two other soldiers of his platoon, Sangin and Dolgikh, were seriously wounded. And nevertheless, to the best of their strength, they continued to move forward, waiting for fire raids, until they managed to get close to the bridge through a ditch barricaded with bars and railroad rails. Here, after some time, they were joined by scouts from the reconnaissance platoon of their regiment...

When they ran to the Reichstag, to its entrance, Koshkarbayev, grabbing Bulatov by the legs, lifted him up and said to him: "Set it!" And how they installed it, this self-made, improvised, soldier's flag, by thrusting its pole into one of the loopholes of these bricked-up windows. And how this flag was then outweighed, transferred to the roof of the Reichstag by the same scouts from their regiment. And also about how, after some time, other red flags, the first signs of victory, flashed in the windows and embrasures of all floors. And how at the same hours... with the Banner of Victory prepared in advance by the Army Military Council, two scouts of another regiment - Kantaria and Yegorov, headed by Lieutenant Berest, climbed onto the roof of the Reichstag...

Such was it, that long day, April 30, the beginning and end of it, this day.

About all this on the second page of our division from May 3 under the inexpressive title "They distinguished themselves in battle", however, very large typed, my more than brief information was printed:

“The Motherland pronounces the names of the heroes with deep respect... About their outstanding feat, - the note says, - they will write books, compose songs. They hoisted the banner of victory over the citadel of Hitlerism.

Remember the names of the brave men: Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev, Red Army soldier Grigory Bulatov. Provotorov, Lysenko, Oreshko, Pachkovsky, Brekhovetsky, Sorokin fought shoulder to shoulder with them".

From the story of Lieutenant Koshkarbayev:

“Grigory Bulatov kept asking:“ What are we going to do, Comrade Lieutenant? ” We lay with him near a ditch filled with water. “Let's put our names on the flag,” I suggested to him. And with a chemical pencil, which I had in my pocket, right there, lying under the bridge, we wrote: "674 regiment, 1 bn". And they brought out their names: "L-t Koshkarbayev, cr-c Bulatov." We lay here until dark. Then artillery preparation began, and with the very first shots we ran to the Reichstag. I lifted Bulatov, holding him by the legs, and then a flag was erected at the height of the second floor..."

The award has bypassed the Heroes

Koshkarbayev and Bulatov were the first to be nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union - on May 6.

But they were awarded only the Orders of the Red Banner.

Why were they not awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union? There are only assumptions.

First. The banners of the Military Council of the 3rd Shock Army were distributed to nine divisions. The division that will enter the Reichstag will plant the Victory Banner there. And the flag of Koshkarbayev and Bulatov was not "organized", homemade, and even from a cover of a German feather bed.

Second. The report on the flag of Koshkarbayev and Bulatov flew up like lightning. The commander of the 1st Belorussian Front Zhukov issued an order on the afternoon of April 30 (!): “The troops of the 3rd Shock Army of Colonel-General Kuznetsov, continuing the offensive, broke the enemy's resistance, occupied the main building of the Reichstag and today - 30.4.45 at 14: 25 raised our Soviet flag over it".

And the Reichstag was still held by the Germans. Our attacks were repulsed.

But the report had already gone to Stalin. Sovinformburo reported! To the whole world. And when it turned out that the Reichstag had not yet been taken, that a home-made flag had been taken for the Victory Banner, Zhukov, Army Commander Kuznetsov and others were probably frightened. This fear, perhaps, played a role in rewarding Koshkarbayev and Bulatov.

An order was sent to the corps, in the division: install immediately! Divisional Commander Shatilov demanded from the regiment commander Zinchenko: “At any cost, hoist the flag at least on the column of the front entrance! At any cost!"

Combats, following the order, sent lone volunteers with flags.

No one ran, everyone died. From "Himmler's house" to the Reichstag - 360 meters of area, through and through machine guns. 360 meters of death.

And only at about nine in the evening the company of senior sergeant Syanov broke into the Reichstag.

Error in reports, in the order and in Zhukov's memoirs

There are mistakes in military reports. From division headquarters to front headquarters.

From the combat log of the 150th Idritsa Rifle Division:

“At 14:25 30.4.45. Lieutenant KOSHKARBAYEV and scout BULATOV 674 joint venture crawled up to the central part of the building on their bellies and put a red flag on the stairs of the main entrance. (Central archive of the Ministry of Defense, file 380sp, op.326172, d.1)

The commander of the 1st Belorussian Front, Marshal Zhukov, issued an order at 15.00: "The troops of the 3rd Shock Army ... occupied the main building of the Reichstag and today, on 30.4.45, at 14:25, they raised our Soviet flag over it."

But in fact, the time of the establishment of the first flag indicated in the combat log - 14.25 - is an error. Incomprehensible, even mysterious.

According to Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbaev and Private Grigory Bulatov, they were under fire, hiding in craters, behind an abandoned gun carriage, behind a transformer booth, in a ditch with water, made their way to the Reichstag 7 hours 30 minutes, from 11 to 18.30, and the flag was erected at 18.30 ... Only this Ravedchitsa bestial caution saved them. Many, very many, who in the morning of April 30 openly rushed to the Reichstag, alone or in the chains of the attackers, were mowed down with machine-gun bursts.

Soon, literally in minutes, a group of Major Sokolovsky broke through to the main entrance, followed by soldiers of the battalions of Neustroev, Davydov and Logvinenko.

The error with time - 14.25 - was later confirmed by battalion commander Neustroev and regiment commander Zinchenko. In the later editions of the famous memoirs of Marshal Zhukov, when quoting his order of April 30, the time - "2:25 pm" - was removed, removed, only "today - April 30, 1945" remained.

However, the phrases still survived: “At 2:25 pm ... the main part of the Reichstag building was taken” and “At 2:25 pm... they burst into the Reichstag building”.

Errors are somehow tenacious.

From the diaries of Vasily Subbotin

15 years later, in 1960, when the Heroes of the Soviet Union arrived in Moscow - participants in the storming of the Reichstag, veterans of the 150th Idritsa division, the writer Vasily Subbotin noted in his diary:

“We ought to find these guys - Koshkarbayev and Bulatov. Bulatov especially. He was then just a boy... A young, small-stature boy wearing a pilot-hat. The tunic was long and baggy for him. This guy, along with also a very young man - Lieutenant Koshkarbayev, a Kazakh, black-haired, put a flag on the Reichstag, which... was the first one hoisted on the Reichstag. Later, however, it turned out that this “banner” was not foreseen“,not organized...

I came to Davydov, to his battalion, of which there was little left... Koshkarbayev and Bulatov, who had not yet washed themselves, had not slept off yet, had not yet mastered what they had done, told how they put their flag, drew a plan on a piece of paper from a notebook -scheme - the square in front of the Reichstag, the house from which they got out, and their way through this square up to the Reichstag column. I have preserved this leaf...

When we climbed onto the Reichstag [were, I remember, Belyaev (Komsomol organizer of the 756th regiment senior lieutenant Nikolay Belyaev - SB), Prelov (regiment agitator senior lieutenant Alexander Prelov - SB), and, if I'm not mistaken, Davydov (battalion commander Major Vasily Davydov - SB), I don’t remember the others], then it was from this flag that a large enough piece was torn off, divided among themselves. The flag was so large and heavy that it fluttered rather weakly even at the height of the Reichstag. It occurred to us... to shorten it a little, and we tore off a large enough, as already mentioned, piece from it, and then tore it apart and divided it among ourselves...

It is from this flag (it stood on the roof, on the left side of the dome, near one of the towers) that I keep a small red piece of matter".

The tragic fate of the Hero

Especially cruel fate dealt with Bulatov. Of course, Koshkarbayev was very upset with the offense. But in Kazakhstan, thanks to the essays and the book of Vasily Subbotin, they knew about the hero, revered him. He worked as an instructor of the regional executive committee, then as director of the largest hotel in Almaty. His books "Victory Banner" and "Storm" were published in Kazakh and Russian languages. Although, of course, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and all-Union recognition is a different matter ... However, as his daughter Aliya says, “he never behaved as offended, he lived for today”. He died in 1988. In 1999, Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev was posthumously awarded the title "People's Hero of Kazakhstan".

But the fate of Grigory Bulatov developed in the most unfortunate way and ended tragically. He remained an ordinary hard worker, drank a lot, drowning out the resentment. Three times, for short periods, he ended up in a colony (the second and third times - for a fight and some petty theft, and with the first case, the story is vague). In the village of Slobodskoye, Kirov region, he had a nickname - Grishka-Reichstag. He can be understood as both semi-respectful and derisive, despite the magazines and the book where his name was mentioned. Our logic is simple: "If you are a hero, then why not a boss, but you sit with us in the Blue Danube and muffle the chatter." Until recent months, he corresponded with the commander and combat friend Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev:

“I have read many newspapers and even brochures, and there is an article in the Novy Mir magazine. Subbotin writes it. But this is only on paper, but where is our feat, and how is it glorified?.."

“It is unbearable, Rakhimzhan, when on Victory Day you are instructed to speak to the workers, and someone from the spot shouts: “If you have hoisted a banner on the wall of the Reichstag, then why don’t you have a Golden Star?”

“Currently I work at the Krasny Yakor plywood mill as a minder on a boat, I didn’t have to study, and the housing doesn’t even allow me, one small room is 13 m. Even my daughter has nowhere to put a bed ... Of course, the grievances are inexhaustible. How could everything be a hoax? I remember well the words of Zinchenka (regiment commander - S.B.) and the other officers: if you stay alive and get there, you will get a gold star each. We jumped out of the window to our death. " (From the window of "Himmler's house" - to the square in front of the Reichstag, shot through with automatic and machine-gun fire. - S. B.)

“The apartment was given better, but not well-equipped. I work at a plywood mill as a mechanic... Why are we completely forgotten?"

And the last letter, dated January 12, 1973:

“My life does not shine, there is nothing to boast about. I do not hope for anyone more, when we were needed - we were promised. Although we were young, we were easily deceived. You know how it happened. This is my grievance for life. I ask you not to bother about me. I think everything is useless and tired".

On April 19, 1973, Grigory Bulatov committed suicide.

Now in the Vyatka lands they remembered their hero. In 2010, a fund named after him was created, in the city of Slobodskoy, in 2005, and in the city of Kirov, in 2015, monuments were erected. Relatives, fellow countrymen, employees of the foundation, journalists have repeatedly appealed to both the presidential administration and the Ministry of Defense with a petition to confer the title of Hero of Russia posthumously on Grigory Bulatov. To restore justice.

In vain.

And here is a record, a post on the official page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on Instagram about the feat of Rakhimzhan Kashkarbayev and Grigory Bulatov. Official Russia began to remember its Hero? (Photo from V.E.Subbotin's archive)