"Heroes of the Soviet Union", V Vorbyov and N Efimov, 2010, St Petersburg, Russian text, 638pp, laminated hardcover, 35pp of color and B/W illustrations. Invaluable research aid filled with serial numbers and other information never previously available!
This 8 5/8" x 11" x 1 5/8" book is intended to be used in tandem with the classic 1987 Soviet two volume publication of the same title ("Heroes of the Soviet Union") which has photos, biographical information and details of the various heroes' feats but does not include the serial numbers of their individual awards. A most important aspect of this new book is that it provides the serial numbers of the Orders of Lenin that were awarded along with the Gold Stars. This is especially important since this information has never been available before in any previously published source.
The main part of the book, Table I, is organized by the serial numbers of the Hero Stars, making it easy to determine the name of the recipient by referencing the number of the Hero medal. The columns are organized as follows:
1. Serial number of the Gold Star Medal
2. Serial number of the Order of Lenin issued with the Star.
3. Serial number of the order booklet (if available)
4. Last, First and Patronymic Name of the recipient.
5. Date of the Award Decree.
6. Military Rank (at the time of the Hero award and at retirement / death).
7. Explanation (brief information on the circumstances leading to the award such as the war, military campaign or rescue operation; military position or civilian occupation of the recipient).
Table II is organized alphabetically, with the Hero Star # in Column 2 and Order of Lenin # in Column 3. Overall, the columns are arranged as follows:
1. the name of the Hero with the serial numbers of any other important decorations, if applicable (starting with the "Hammer and Sickle Medal" of Hero of the Socialist Labor, any other Orders of Lenin -additional to the one awarded with the Hero Star- etc.).
2. shows the serial number of the Hero Star.
3. & 4. the serial number of the Order of Lenin issued with the star and Date of the Award Decree.
5. contains information about the circumstances of the Hero's death, options being either "умер" (died of natural causes) ,"погиб" (killed in action),"тр. погиб" (died in an accident), or "от ран" (died of wounds).
6. shows the date of death.
7. shows either the burial place or the current place of residence if still alive as of 2010, according to the information available to the authors.
Table III is comprised of people who received the Title of Hero more than once (twice heroes, etc., starting from Leonid Brezhnev and Georgy Zhukov who were bestowed with the title four times each).
People who were stripped of the Title of Hero are listed in Table IV (the reason is provided in most cases).
Table V contains names of the people whose Hero award decree was revoked (with brief explanations of the reasons for the revocation).
Note that when no serial number for the Hero Star is listed, it means that the title of Hero was granted posthumously or that the Hero was killed soon after the award decree; in both instances, he never had the chance to receive the actual decorations. These names are listed chronologically, after the names of the survivors who were bestowed the Title of Hero on the same date or shortly prior. There are also a few exceptions: the book mentions several people who became Heroes but were never given the awards due to bureaucratic mix-ups. Additionally, Hero Star serial numbers could not be found in fourteen cases even though they are known to have been issued. The book also contains some very interesting and valuable observations such as a comparison between the official guidelines for awarding the Hero Title vs. real life statistics.
The list of abbreviations on pp. 603 - 620 is a great resource in its own right for anyone who collects Soviet military documents or deals with archival sources: the meaning of many of the older military abbreviations are no longer obvious even to experienced researchers. The thirty five pages of illustrations range from photos of the first HSU award (and the cover of its accompanying award certificate) to a broad range of HSU award certificates and HSU portraits.
This will eventually be regarded as one of the most important research works on a Soviet award to be published since the end of the Soviet Union. Our highest recommendation!