17 November 2012

Iconic Photo of Politruk Alexey Yeremenko Encouraging His Men to Counterattack Against German Positions

Image size: 1600 x 1281 pixel. 604 KB
Date: Sunday, 12 July 1942
Place: Khorosheye, near Woroschilowgrad, Ukraine
Photographer: Max Alpert

"Politruk" (Junior Political Officer) Alexey Yeremenko (220th Rifle Regiment/4th Rifle Division) encouraging his men to counterattack against german positions moments before being killed, in the village of Khorosheye, near Woroschilowgrad, today Luhansk, Ukraine. This is one of the iconic photo of Soviet in World War II, comparable only to the photo of the Red Flag over Reichstag. The author of the photo - Soviet war reporter and photographer Max Alpert - who did not know the name of the soldier, initially named (erroneously) this photograph as "Kom-bat", which is a soviet military acronym for "commander of batallion". The identity of the person on the photo was uncovered 23 years later, when in May, 1965, the wife and children of A. Yeremenko saw the picture on the front page of the "Pravda" 20-year jubilee issue dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany (the 9th of May or "Victory Day" is an official holiday in former USSR and now Russia). The photograph was taken on July 12, 1942 in Luhansk (at that time - Voroshilovgrad area) in the area of ​​military operations which involved the 220th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. In those days the Red Army was persistently involved in bloody defensive battles against superior forces from Axis opponent. The photograph was taken on the field near the village of Good (now the village of Good Slavyanoserbsk region Lugansk region) between the rivers Lugan and Lozova. The photographer took a position in a foxhole just ahead of the defensive line. At this point, the Nazis began the attack after the usual airstrike and artillery bombardment. Alpert saw the officer and rose up at once to take the-then iconic picture. At the same time his camera lens broken into fragments by the strenous of combat. The correspondent found that the film was lost, and also his frame. Fiddling with a broken machine in his foxhole, he spent some time watching the situation, but he heard the other soldiers shouting: "Kombat is killed!" Name and title of the officer still unknown for Alpert, until that fateful day in 1965.



  1. My grandfather was in the German infantry on the Russian front. Combat there was fierce and vicious. Hatred and fear of each other incomprehensible to the average American. I still remember my grandfather telling me about being in the army,discipline, and having to follow order and kill people. Few in this nation understand the horrors of war unless you either experience it for yourself or know someone like my grandfather to describe it. I still remember him talking about Russians almost lie they were mysterious, uncivilized animals. SInce then, I have learned nothing could be further from the truth, but how could you expect him to feel any different at the time. that was the mid sixties and it took years before the iron curtain collapse at which point he had already passed away. The Russian people are our brothers and sisters like everyone else. This iconic photo has been branded in my brain for decades. A man fight to defend his nation an leaving a wife who would not even know of his death for decades....

  2. What a legend. He must have known it was likely he would die but still got up and led his men anyway. What a true inspiration and a moment of courage that would have been lost if it was not for the photographer.

  3. Unparalleled bravery in the face of certain death...