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Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was a Soviet statesman who actually ruled the country from 1964 to 1982. The period of "stagnation" and the Cold War is associated with his name. This personality became famous for a huge number of awards, which he was showered with by his own associates and subordinates. Jokes were made about Brezhnev, especially in the last years of his life, when he lost part of his legal capacity.
The secretary general became famous for his memoirs about his role in the Great Patriotic War. The former commissar at the end of his life became Marshal of the Soviet Union. Brezhnev's personality is ambiguous. He just looked like a compromise figure against the background of his predecessors and followers.
On the other hand, perhaps, it was under him that the Soviet Union hopelessly lagged economically behind America and Europe. In any case, this person gave rise to many myths about her, which we will try to debunk.
Myths about Brezhnev Leonid Ilyich
The awards of the secretary general at his funeral were carried by 44 senior officers, in total there were more than 200 of them. This is an unsubstantiated statement that no source confirms. The same Wikipedia says that Brezhnev had "only" 117 Soviet and foreign awards.
Brezhnev was awarded all orders of the Soviet Union, except for "Mother Heroine". This myth sounds more like an anecdote. In the USSR, there were 20 orders of various degrees and 55 medals. Brezhnev received 7 different titles of orders and 19 types of medals.
The jacket with the General Secretary's medals weighed 6 kilograms. The question immediately arises - who weighed this jacket? During the life of Brezhnev himself, this would clearly not have been allowed, the risk was to go to prison for anti-Soviet activities. After the death of the leader, all his awards were transferred for eternal storage to a special storeroom of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. And Brezhnev did not put on a jacket with all his awards at once, it was physically impossible to place all of them there. The secretary general had several suits, each of which was fitted with duplicates of the four Gold Stars, the Hammer and Sickle Order and the Lenin Prize medals. In the most solemn moments, Brezhnev attached order straps to his tunic, it was much more convenient than attaching numerous awards.
Brezhnev received the "Star of the Hero of Poland". In the list of foreign awards of the secretary general, this one also comes across. But such an award physically never existed in Poland; Brezhnev could not get it.
Brezhnev had eight Orders of Lenin, like no one else. In fact, in the history of the Soviet Union there were individuals who were awarded an even greater number of such orders. So, Marshal Chuikov, Colonel-Generals from Engineering Dementyev and Ryabikov each had 9 Orders of Lenin. The aircraft designer Yakovlev had 10 such awards, and the Minister of Defense Ustinov - in general 11.
Brezhnev had the most orders in the history of the USSR. If we talk exclusively about Soviet awards, then the statement is a myth. The general secretary had 16 orders of the USSR, but Marshals Rokossovsky and Konev had 17 orders each, and Marshals Chuikov and Sokolovsky had 18 orders each.
Brezhnev received an order for each of his birthdays. They say that it was under Brezhnev that the tradition of giving birthday awards to Soviet statesmen appeared. But this was not done at all under Brezhnev, and not even under Khrushchev. On December 20, 1939, Stalin received the title of Hero of Socialist Labor for his 60th birthday, and later he was awarded the Hammer and Sickle gold medal No. 1. For 70 years, the leader was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of George Dimitrov and the Gold Star of the Hero of the People's Republic of Bulgaria. But already under Brezhnev, the practice of presenting awards on memorable dates was brought to perfection by the party elite. For his 50 years in 1956, Brezhnev received the Order of Lenin, for 60 years - the title of Hero of the Soviet Union with the Order of Lenin, for 70 years in 1976, nine countries at once awarded the Soviet secretary general with fourteen awards. On his 74th birthday in 1980, Brezhnev received the second order of the October Revolution, and on the 75th birthday of the leader, eight countries celebrated Brezhnev with thirteen awards.
No one had as many Gold Stars as Brezhnev had. In this case, we are talking about the medals "Gold Star" and "Hammer and Sickle". Pilots Pokryshkin, Kozhedub and Marshal Budyonny became Heroes of the Soviet Union three times. Four times only Zhukov and Brezhnev received the Hero's star. Three times the heroes of Socialist Labor were academicians Keldysh, Kurchatov, Aleksandrov, Zelkovich, Shchelkin, collective farm chairman Tursunkulov, industrialist Vannikov, aircraft designers Tupolev and Ilyushin, tank designer Spirits, party members Chernenko, Kunaev and others. There were not many of those who simultaneously possessed the titles of Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of Socialist Labor. You can remember the names of Voroshilov (1 + 2), Ustinov (1 + 2), Khrushchev (1 + 3). But Brezhnev had, in addition to the four stars of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the star of the hero of labor. Thus, he had five stars, so no one could beat this record. But the leader of the Hero of Socialist Labor had one star, here he is not unique.
During Brezhnev's funeral, his coffin fell. This myth is exaggerated from year to year, eyewitnesses watched the bottom of the coffin collapse. They say that the Soviet power collapsed so symbolically. And the whole country saw it live, considering it a bad omen. In fact, to prove it, it is enough to review the video from the funeral, where it can be seen that the coffin on Red Square was lowered into the grave near the Kremlin wall accurately and without incident.
Under Brezhnev, the death rate in the country increased. In discussions on the demographic topic, Brezhnev is often accused of increasing mortality in the country. Indeed, the Secretary General took the country with an indicator of 7.6 ppm, and left with 10.7. In fact, there are explanations for this and the methods of Brezhnev's rule are only partly to blame. During this period, there was a decline in fertility, resulting in an increase in mortality in relative numbers. The transition of rural residents to urban life is also to blame, as the lack of accommodation led to drunkenness and increased mortality among mature men. There were problems with medicine - life expectancy was also falling. In general, the indicator corresponded to what was in Western countries.
There were no attempts on Brezhnev's life. Soviet newspapers did not write about this story. The fact of the assassination attempt on the head of state made us understand that there are dissidents who are ready to radically solve problems. As a result, an attempt was made on such a kind and complaisant person as Brezhnev. It was made by the army junior lieutenant Viktor Ilyin. His official motives were rejection of the socialist system; it seemed to him that the party was leading the country in a different direction than was guaranteed by the Constitution. On January 21, 1969, Ilyin deserted from the unit and went to Moscow. There he was able to penetrate the cordon with the help of a police cloak. At the entrance to the Red Square of the government motorcade, the terrorist opened fire from pistols at the second car, where the cosmonaut Beregovoy was sitting. With his eyebrows, he just resembled Brezhnev from afar. Ilyin was quickly tied down, but he managed to kill the driver and injure the motorcyclist. The secretary general himself was driving either in a different car, or in a different way. Those events were broadcast live, which was quickly interrupted "for technical reasons." It was officially announced that Ilyin had attempted to kill the cosmonauts, he was declared mentally ill and put behind bars. The good-natured Brezhnev did not dare to execute his potential murderer.
Under Brezhnev, the Soviet Union experienced a golden age. Fans of Brezhnev can boast of many of his achievements during his reign. The country ranked second in the world in terms of industrial production and agriculture, science was one of the most developed in the world, there was no inflation, unemployment, homeless people, the whole world was afraid and respected the country's military power. However, the stability of the Soviet economy at that time was based on the oil boom of the 70s. In fact, the technological lag behind Western countries gradually accumulated, the necessary reforms in the economy were not carried out, and corruption grew. There was stagnation in the economy, the population did not receive the required amount of food. It was then that the growth of food imports began, sending townspeople to agricultural work. The country became acquainted with a commodity deficit. And domestic politics was accompanied by a struggle against dissent, and Jewish emigration began. As a result, the intellectual layer was washed out.
Brezhnev in the Great Patriotic War took an active part in holding the "Small Land" bridgehead. During the time of Brezhnev, his military biography began to grow overgrown with myths and legends. In those years, Leonid Ilyich was a mid-rank military political worker. He did not take direct part in the main battles. In the combat biography of his 18th Army, the main episode is the capture of the Malaya Zemlya bridgehead south of Novorossiysk. But not even the whole army took part there, but some of its parts. The headquarters itself, together with the political department, was located in the rear, in safety. Brezhnev himself recalled that he had been to Malaya Zemlya only twice - with a brigade of the Central Committee and for the presentation of awards. In his documentary story, G. Sokolov, who had been there all seven months, only twice mentioned the "thin colonel with large black eyebrows." And even Zhukov was forced to include in his memoirs the phrase: "I came to Novorossiysk to talk with Colonel Brezhnev about the fighting spirit of our soldiers, but I did not find him." Naturally, in reality, there could be no question of any meeting of the marshal with a colonel-party member. After the death of Brezhnev, this phrase was removed in subsequent editions of his memoirs.
In the battles for Malaya Zemlya, Brezhnev saved a sailor. Travel to Malaya Zemlya was unsafe. Back in 1958, the memoirs of eyewitnesses described the story of how Brezhnev's ship ran into a mine. The colonel was thrown into the sea by a blast wave, where the sailors picked him up unconscious. And in his book, Brezhnev mentions the memorable April crossing, when he had to swim in the water. Over time, a real stream of memories, articles, books about those events was formed. They already described a new interpretation of events - Colonel Brezhnev not only managed to get on the ship himself, but also saved a shell-shocked sailor.
Brezhnev was addicted to drugs. Academician Chazov recalls that the secretary general was addicted to sleeping pills. Especially for Brezhnev, tonic tablets were made, which later became known as “Brezhnev's tablets”.
Brezhnev was eliminated by order of the KGB. The whole country knew that the secretary general was seriously ill. But Andropov still had a hand in his death. Almost every day, Brezhnev received a report from the special services about the investigation into the behavior of his daughter Galina. This greatly upset and irritated the sick person. He needed peace, and Andropov made up a busy travel schedule for Brezhnev, insisting on being present at the parade on November 7, 1982. The secretary general died just three days later.
Brezhnev was a senile. It is believed that the secretary general suffered from deafness, could read speeches only from a piece of paper. It is no coincidence that he was often parodied. But one must evaluate a person not in his ripe old age, but in his mature years. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recalled Brezhnev as a charismatic, cunning and emotional man with a sense of humor.
Under Brezhnev, censorship cut out everything informal. It is believed that with the arrival of Brezhnev, the Khrushchev thaw ended. The dissidents were persecuted. Tvardovsky was removed from his post as editor of Novy Mir, Sakharov was sent to Gorky. During these years Brodsky and Dovlatov left the country ... Communist propaganda was constantly streaming from the screens. However, an amazing fact - in the history of the USSR, it was the period of stagnation that became the most favorable for the development of informal creativity. A new school of science fiction was formed in the country, an association of avant-garde artists "Mitki" appeared, Tarkovsky, Vysotsky, Grebenshchikov worked here, the novel "The Master and Margarita" was published. And Brezhnev himself insisted that Solzhenitsyn's exile should be replaced by emigration. Two weeks after the dispersal of the Bulldozer Exhibition, the authorities officially held a new exhibition of non-conformist artists.
Under Brezhnev, the international relations of the USSR deteriorated. Brezhnev is charged with the introduction of troops into Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, it is no coincidence that this caused a boycott of 60 countries of the Moscow Olympics. However, it was during this period that the USSR was actively establishing relations with the largest countries. So, in 1975 in Helsinki, the countries officially consolidated the results of the Second World War. Although the Cold War was going on, detente was outlined, and the parties even agreed to limit strategic weapons.
Brezhnev was a terrible womanizer. They wrote that the secretary general was unfaithful to his wife, he even wanted to divorce her. Brezhnev was awaited by his fighting friend Tamara. There were rumors that the mistresses visited Leonid Ilyich in his residences and at the hunting dacha. And to his granddaughter, Brezhnev declared sympathy for the English queen, that even a romance could have developed if they were both free. Recently, Brezhnev became attached to his nurse, who could put him on sleeping pills. In fact, Leonid Ilyich's marriage lasted 55 years. He was always close to his family, loved his children and read books to them. And the memories of Brezhnev's "mistresses" were somehow not found.
Under Brezhnev, a deficit arose. In the era of stagnation, it was difficult to acquire quality products and products. People on electric trains from the provinces went to Moscow to buy cereals, light bulbs, and underwear there in lines. The country spent a lot of money on the military-industrial complex, and the people did not have enough goods. There is another side to this story. In the 70s and 80s, food imports increased 10 times; flour products were so cheap that they were fed to pigs and chickens. Thanks to the scarcity, our people have learned how to cook at home. And scarcity is not always a sign of decline; often it is just a problem of distribution of goods. And in the Soviet Union, there was a deficit in the 1940s, and in the 1950s, and, of course, in the 1980s.
Brezhnev was a narrow-minded person, at whom the whole country laughed. Everyone knew that the secretary general was simple-minded, he liked to drink, to drive around, and was susceptible to flattery. However, he began to cause pity in recent years, having suffered several strokes. Brezhnev wanted to resign, but stayed on at the urgent request of his associates - they were afraid to lose power with his departure. In his youth, he was a slender, black-browed handsome man with thick hair. Brezhnev strove for knowledge, he was good at mathematics. He became an intelligent engineer and organizer. Brezhnev was considered a benevolent person who could be relied on. His party career developed in such a way that it was he who ended up in a high post, perhaps not matching it with the scale of his personality.
Brezhnev was mediocrity. Could a gray ordinary person graduate with honors from a gymnasium, get an increased scholarship for academic performance at a technical school? At the institute, Brezhnev's diploma was recognized as the best on the course. At the age of 22 he was already a deputy of the district council, at the age of 25 he headed the workers' school. In military service in just 9 years, Brezhnev rose to the rank of general. And with all this, he did not have any kind of cronyism.
Brezhnev was rooting for the hockey Spartak.It is known that the secretary general was a fanatical hockey fan. The myth was born thanks to the domestic film "Legend No. 17". It shows how coach Tarasov, indignant at the suicide of Spartak, took his team off the rink. But Brezhnev himself was present at that match, who was not rooting for CSKA. In fact, everyone who lived in the 1970s knew that the secretary general was an ardent fan of CSKA and such a situation, in principle, could not be. They recall that Brezhnev attended many matches, ardently supporting the army. He often watched the favorites on TV.
Even during the war years, Brezhnev earned many awards. In fact, during this period, the future secretary general was deprived of orders. He started the war as a brigade commissar, becoming a colonel at the end of 1942. At the time of the victory, Brezhnev was in the rank of major general. Passing at the Parade on Red Square in 1945 as part of a combined column, the officer stood out only for the small number of awards. Other generals and officers had many more. And in the postwar period, Brezhnev was not particularly spoiled with awards. He received two Orders of Lenin in 1947 and 1956, two medals "For the restoration of ferrous metallurgy enterprises in the south" and "For the development of virgin lands." And already after Leonid Ilyich headed the party, awards fell on him, as if from a cornucopia.
As general secretary, Brezhnev practically did not work. The records of Brezhnev's secretaries have been preserved. All his meetings and movements are clearly marked there. In the first years of his tenure, Brezhnev worked for wear and tear. He came at nine in the morning and left late at night, sometimes after midnight. In those years, Brezhnev worked on specific cases, solving important social problems - a decrease in the retirement age, a five-day work week, an increase in salaries, pensions, and the minimum wage.
Brezhnev wrote his own memoirs. In the late 1970s, a trilogy of novels "Small Land", "Renaissance" and "Virgin Lands" was published. And although they said that it was Brezhnev who was their author, in fact, these books were written together by the journalist Agranovsky, Sakhnin and Murzin. At the same time, they were helped by their other colleagues. “Memories of Brezhnev” was even included in the school curriculum. The flattering entourage could not fail to note all the greatness of the secretary general's literary work - for it he was awarded the Lenin Prize and a fee of 180 thousand rubles. The real authors did not receive money, however, they were awarded orders.
Brezhnev had the Order of Victory. In 1978, the secretary general received the highest military order of the USSR for number 20. However, the award was scandalous. Indeed, according to the status, this award could only be received by those who, during the war, commanded one or several fronts, having made a strategic turning point during the operation. Also, the Order of Victory was awarded to the commander-in-chief of the allied forces, who made a significant contribution to fascism. And Brezhnev worked in the political administration during the war years and, according to his status, had no rights to such a high award. As a result, already in 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev signed a decree canceling the awarding of this order to Brezhnev.