Hero of the Soviet Union

  (Redirected from Hero of Soviet Union)

The title Hero of the Soviet Union (Russian: Герой Советского Союза, romanizedGeroy Sovietskogo Soyuza) was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded together with the Order of Lenin personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.[1]

Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the USSR Gold Star.png
Gold star medal of the Hero of the Soviet Union
TypeHighest degree of distinction
Awarded forHeroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society
Presented by Soviet Union
EligibilitySoviet and foreign citizens
StatusNo longer awarded
Established16 April 1934
First awarded20 April 1934
Last awarded24 December 1991
Next (lower)Hero of Socialist Labour
RelatedHero of the Russian Federation


The award was established on April 16, 1934, by the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union.[2] The first recipients of the title originally received only the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet award, along with a certificate (грамота, gramota) describing the heroic deed from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Because the Order of Lenin could be awarded for deeds not qualifying for the title of hero, and to distinguish heroes from other Order of Lenin holders, the Gold Star medal was introduced on August 1, 1939.[3] Earlier heroes were retroactively eligible for these items.

A hero could be awarded the title again for a subsequent heroic feat with an additional Gold Star medal and certificate. An additional Order of Lenin was not given until 1973. The practice of awarding the title multiple times was abolished by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1988 during perestroika.[citation needed]

Forty-four foreign citizens were awarded the title.[4]

The title was also given posthumously, though often without the actual Gold Star medal given.

The title could be revoked only by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.[5]


Individuals who received the award were entitled to special privileges, including:

  • A pension with survivor benefits in the event of the death of the title holder.
  • First priority on the housing list with 50% rent reduction, tax exempt and an additional 45 square metres (480 sq ft) in living space.
  • Annual round-trip first class airline ticket
  • Free bus transportation
  • Free annual visit to sanatorium or rest home
  • Medical benefits
  • Entertainment benefits


Marshal Georgy Zhukov (center) wearing three Hero of the Soviet Union medals and Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky (right) wearing two

In total, during the existence of the USSR, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 12,777 people (excluding 72 stripped of the title for defamatory acts and 13 awards annulled as unwarranted), including twice – 154 (9 posthumously), three times – 3 and four – 2. Ninety-five women were awarded the title. Among the Heroes of the Soviet Union, 44 people are citizens of foreign states. The great majority of them received it during World War II (11,635 Heroes of the Soviet Union, 101 twice Heroes, three thrice Heroes, and two four-time Heroes). Eighty-five people (28 posthumously) were awarded the title for actions related to the Soviet-Afghan War, which lasted from 1979 until 1989.[6]

The first recipients of the award were the pilots Anatoly Liapidevsky (certificate number one), Sigizmund Levanevsky, Vasily Molokov, Mavriky Slepnyov, Nikolai Kamanin, Ivan Doronin, and Mikhail Vodopianov, who participated in the successful aerial search and rescue of the crew of the steamship Cheliuskin, which sank in Arctic waters, crushed by ice fields, on February 13, 1934. Valeri Chkalov, The first pilot to fly from Moscow, Russia in the Soviet Union, to Vancouver, Washington in the United States in an ANT-25 single-engine airplane landing at Pearson Field in Vancouver on June 20, 1937. This was the first-ever TransPolar flight. He received the "Hero of the Soviet Union" for his first Arctic flight from Moscow to Udd Island (now Chkalov Island) on the Soviet Pacific coast in 1936. Valentina Grizodubova, a female pilot, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union (November 2, 1938)[7] for her international women's record for a straight-line distance flight. Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, a Soviet partisan, was the first woman to become a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II (February 16, 1942), posthumously.

In addition, 101 people received the award twice. A second Hero title, either Hero of the Soviet Union or Hero of Socialist Labour entitled the recipient to have a bronze bust of his or her likeness with a commemorative inscription erected in his or her hometown.[8]

Two famous Soviet fighter pilots, Aleksandr Pokryshkin and Ivan Kozhedub were three times Heroes of the Soviet Union. A third award entitled the recipient to have his/her bronze bust erected on a columnar pedestal in Moscow, near the Palace of the Soviets, but the Palace was never built.

After his release from serving a 20-year sentence in a Mexican prison for the assassination of Leon Trotsky, Ramón Mercader moved to the Soviet Union in 1961 and as Ramon Lopez[9] was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Hero of the Soviet Union medal "for the special deed" by KGB head Alexander Shelepin.

The only individuals to receive the title four times were Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Leonid Brezhnev. The original statute of the Hero of the Soviet Union, however, did not provide for a fourth title; its provisions allowed for a maximum of three awards regardless of later deeds. Both Zhukov and Brezhnev received their fourth titles under controversial circumstances contrary to the statute, which remained largely unchanged until the award was abolished in 1991. Zhukov was awarded a fourth time "for his large accomplishments" on the occasion of his 60th birthday on December 1, 1956. There is some speculation that Zhukov's fourth Hero medal was for his participation in the arrest of Beria in 1953, but this was not entered in the records. Brezhnev's four awards further eroded the prestige of the award because they were all birthday gifts, on the occasions of his 60th, 70th, 72nd and 75th birthdays. Such practices halted in 1988 due to a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, which formally ended it.

By the 1970s, the award had been somewhat devalued. Important political and military persons had been awarded it on the occasions of their anniversaries rather than for any immediate heroic activity.

All Soviet cosmonauts, starting from Yuri Gagarin, as well as foreign citizens who participated in the Soviet space program as cosmonauts, received Hero award for each flight (but no more than twice).

Apart from individuals, the title was also awarded to twelve cities (Hero City) as well as the fortress of Brest (Hero-Fortress) for collective heroism during the War.

The last recipient of the title "Hero of the Soviet Union" was a Soviet diver, Captain of the 3rd rank Leonid Mikhailovich Solodkov on December 24, 1991 for his leadership and participation in a series of unprecedented extreme depth diving experiments.[10] Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, this title was succeeded in Russia by the title "Hero of the Russian Federation", in Ukraine by "Hero of Ukraine" and in Belarus by "Hero of Belarus". Azerbaijan's successor order is that of National Hero of Azerbaijan and Armenia's own hero medal is that of National Hero of Armenia, both modeled on the Soviet one.



Notable recipientsEdit

Hero of the Soviet Union Army General Pavel Grachev
Twice Hero of the Soviet Union Major General Alexander Molodchy

Single awardEdit

Two times awardedEdit

Three times awardedEdit

  • Semyon Budyonny – Military Commander, 1st Cavalry Army in the Civil War and later of the Army Cavalry Commands, also Marshal of the Soviet Union and from 1937 to 1940, Commanding Officer, Moscow Military District.
  • Ivan Kozhedub – highest-scoring Soviet fighter pilot
  • Alexander Pokryshkin – World War II fighter pilot

Four times awardedEdit

Foreign recipients (all single awards)Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Prokhorov, Aleksandr Mikhaĭlovich (1982). Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Volume 6. New York: Macmillan. p. 594. OCLC 810278.
  2. ^ "Resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union of May 5, 1934" (in Russian). Wikisource. 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  3. ^ "Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of August 1, 1939" (in Russian). Wikisource. 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  4. ^ Статистика :: Герои страны [Statistics]. www.warheroes.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  5. ^ McDaniel and Schmitt, The Comprehensive Guide to Soviet Orders and Medals.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2005-10-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ (in Russian) Гризодубова Валентиа Степановна
  8. ^ https://ru.wikisource.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5_%D0%A6%D0%98%D0%9A_%D0%A1%D0%A1%D0%A1%D0%A0_%D0%BE%D1%82_16.05.1934_%D0%93%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B9_%D0%A1%D0%A1%D0%A1%D0%A0
  9. ^ Photograph of Mercader's Gravestone
  10. ^ "As Leonid Solodkov was the last hero of the Soviet Union?". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Герой Советского Союза Горанов Волкан Семёнович :: Герои страны". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Шменкель (Shmenkel) Фриц Пауль". www.warheroes.ru. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  13. ^ "Джибелли Примо Анжелович". www.warheroes.ru. Retrieved 2016-01-25.

External linksEdit