Aleksandra Samusenko

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Aleksandra Grigoryevna Samusenko
Aleksandra Samusenko, 1943.jpg
Aleksandra Samusenko in 1943
Born 1922
Chita, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died March 3, 1945
Zülzefirz, Province of Pomerania, Nazi Germany (now Poland)
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Red Army
Years of service 1934—1945
Rank Guards Captain
Unit 1st Guards Tank Army
Battles/wars

World War II (Eastern Front)

Awards Order gpw1 rib.png Order of the Patriotic War 1st class
Order redstar rib.png Order of the Red Star

Aleksandra Grigoryevna Samusenko (Russian: Александра Григорьевна Самусенко, Ukrainian: Олександра Григорівна Самусенко; 1922, Chita—March 3, 1945) was a Soviet Ukrainian commander of the T-34 tank and a liaison officer during World War II.[1] She was the only female tankman in the 1st Guards Tank Army.[1]

Samusenko was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War 1st class and the Order of the Red Star, which she received for bravery in the Battle of Kursk.[2]

Life[edit]

Samusenko began her tour of duty as a private in an infantry platoon. Later she successfully finished the tank academy. Samusenko received her Order of the Red Star when her tank crew defeated three German Tiger I tanks.[2] Later Samusenko participated in the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive.[1]

World War II veteran and writer Fabian Garin, in his book Tsvety na tankakh (The Flowers on Tanks), mentions an episode from Samusenko's personal life, when a certain Mindlin, who fell in love with her, asked her "not to smoke and drink". Samusenko parried with "Maybe you have fallen in love?", kissed him on the head and stopped smoking thereafter.[3]

US Army Sergeant Joseph Beyrle, who had escaped from Stalag III-C POW camp in Alt Drewitz in early January 1945, encountered Samusenko's tank brigade in the middle of January. Beyrle, the only American soldier known to have served with both the United States Army and the Soviet Army in World War II, was eventually able to persuade her to allow him to fight alongside the unit on its way to Berlin, thus beginning a month-long stint in a Soviet tank battalion where his demolitions expertise was appreciated. Samusenko died from wounds in the German village of Zülzefirz (70 km from Berlin), during the East Pomeranian Offensive. According to World War II veteran Pyotr Demidov, she was crushed under the caterpillar tracks of a tank, which did not notice the accompanying people in the darkness.[1] She was buried in Łobez, Poland, near the monument to William I.[1]

Beyrle, who claimed that Samusenko lost both her husband and entire family during the war, cited Samusenko as a symbol of the fortitude and courage displayed by the Soviet people in that period.[4]

Spanish Civil War[edit]

In his 1975 book the Russian author Y.A. Zhukov wrote that Samusenko was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and the Winter War,[1] though Garin discounted this rumor in Tsvety na tankakh. According to Garin, it came from a certain soldier named Balandin, who told battalion commander Zhukov that Samusenko had fought in Spain:

My [Balandin's] submachine gunner Kolka... approached her and says: "[...] I saw you already under Huesca... ¡No pasarán!" And she replies: "I don't remember you" [...]

Zhukov then asked, why she concealed her service and Balandin replied that he did not know, "but for some reason many don't want to reveal that they fought in Spain".[3] Garin, however, further cites Samusenko's boyfriend Mindlin, who later said that "she has never been there".[3]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Unknown Aleksandra Samusenko" (in Russian). State History. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  2. ^ a b V. S. Murmantseva (1974). "Soviet Women in the Great Patriotic War" (in Russian). Mysl. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  3. ^ a b c Fabian Garin (1973). "The Flowers on Tanks" (in Russian). Sovetskaya Rossiya. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  4. ^ "Красноармеец из американского штата Мичиган" (in Russian). Русская Германия. Retrieved 25 January 2014.