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2021-03-19 Other articles >

In life there is always a place for a feat

'There is always a place for a feat in life, ' said Otto Yulyevich Schmidt, a Soviet mathematician, geographer, astronomer and explorer of the North, and began organizing Arctic expeditions. The icebreaking steamers he had chosen for this purpose ‒ the Sedov, the Sibiryakov, and the Chelyuskin-had to go through previously unknown paths in order to prove to the whole world and to himself that the impossible does not exist in this life.

At the end of the summer of 1933, the steamer Chelyuskin under the command of Schmidt (who has the status of a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences) and Captain Bezais left the port of Murmansk. He had to overcome the Northern Sea Route to confirm/deny the possibility of passing the route in one navigation.
The fact that the Chelyuskin was not adapted for such a flight was initially clear to professionals. Too wide, with sparse frames and a weak hull, the steamer was optimally suited for river/sea, but not for Arctic shipping. Even its original name ‒ 'Lena' - spoke for itself: this name is the famous Siberian river, from the mouth of which he went to Vladivostok.
However, there are no fortresses that would not submit to the enthusiasm and pressure, flavored with the innate adventurous streak of Otto Schmidt. Captain Peteris Bezais did not dare to take responsibility for the lives of 112 people (including two children and a pregnant woman!) and resigned. Schmidt managed to persuade his friend, the polar captain Vladimir Voronin, with whom he had traveled more than a dozen icy kilometers on the steamer Sedov, to take command.
The confidence in success was enormous. It was supported by the escort of 'Chelyuskin' in the air (aerial reconnaissance was provided by an experienced polar pilot Mikhail Babushkin)
and in the water (the steamer was carried out on the ice by the icebreakers 'Krasin' and 'Litke'). And now, when the victory was already so close, and the Chelyuskin had only a few kilometers to go to clear water, Schmidt decides to abandon the help of the icebreaker Litke and go the rest of the way on his own.
The whole world knows what happened next, in November of ' 33. 'Chelyuskin' could not overcome the remaining distance, was trapped in the ice and carried far back to the northeast. After holding out until the tragic day of February 13 (that's where - 'damn dozen'), the polar explorers landed on the ice. The steamer itself was crushed by the Arctic ice blocks and sank within two hours...
The whole world watched the exciting campaign to save the Chelyuskinites with a sinking heart. On April 13, Soviet pilots evacuated the last people from the ice floe, and it was really a heroic epic.

The aviation of the 30s had not yet reached a sufficient level to quickly cross and land on the ice in the harsh Arctic conditions. During 23 flights, the Chelyuskinites were taken out on light transport aircraft: American Consolidated-Flitster, German Junkers, and domestic P-5.

As a result, all the members of the expedition were saved, and the unequal battle with the ice was won with little blood. Tragically, only one person died ‒ the caretaker Boris Mogilevich, but if not for the heroism of the rescuers and the Chelyuskin residents themselves, there could have been many more victims...
The events of 1934 went down in world history as a feat, an example of courage and selflessness of hundreds of people fighting for the right to rule over the ice element. The result of the operation was the proof of the possibility of navigation on the Northern Sea Route with the obligatory escort of steamships by icebreakers, and the era of the icebreaker fleet began in the Soviet Union.
Icy cold breathes from a series of commemorative stamps dedicated to the voyage of 'Chelyuskin', and, to a greater extent ‒ to the rescuers of his team. In 1935, the Post Office of the USSR issued a series of stamps with images of the heroes-pilots, as well as the head of the expedition Otto Schmidt and the captain of the steamship Vladimir Voronin. The commemorative set itself is of great interest to collectors both for its technical performance and artistic characteristics.
The phototype method allows you to get a high-quality image reproduced from a photographic image. The author of the series, Honored Artist of the RSFSR Vasily Zavyalov, approached the process not only creatively, but also carefully studied all the materials of the expedition. Each stamp depicts a portrait of a participant in the events and his aircraft against the background of dramatic scenes taking place in the Arctic ice.
The world admired the feat of the Chelyuskinites, who bravely held out to the end. After all, no one could have predicted what fate was in store for them in those troubled days...
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