71 Years Ago... Escaping From Death Camp On Nazi Bomber


Mi Captain
MI.Net Member
Feb 19, 2010

Mikhail Devyatayev was the thirteenth child in the family of peasant Pyotr Devyataev. But it was Mikhail, who glorified his father's name. Mikhail Devyatayev piloted the plane hijacked from the German airdrome. There were ten Soviet prisoners on board that plane. It was a rare feat when emaciated concentration camp prisoners succeeded in a daring escape.

Mikhail was growing a common boy, a street hooligan, who went to Kazan after finishing seven years of school. In Kazan, he entered the Marine College. Many boys were dreaming of becoming pilots during those days. In addition to adventures in the blue sky, barefoot boys were very attracted to leather helmets and aviator jackets. After graduating from the college, Mikhail came to the recruitment office and said he wanted to be a military pilot.

In the early days of the Great Patriotic War, fighter pilot Mikhail Devyatayev found himself on the front near Minsk-Mogilev. On June 24, 1941, he shot down a diving bomber Junkers Ju 87. Afterwards, his fighter regiment participated in the defense of Moscow and was subsequently awarded the Order of the Red Banner. Mikhail was wounded in the air battle over Tula. Having stayed for 13 days in the hospital, he returned to his military unit that had already been relocated to Voronezh.

In September of 1941, returning from a mission, Devyataev's aircraft was attacked by Luftwaffe fighters. The Russian man was injured in his leg. Firing back, the pilot took the plane to the airport, landed the aircraft and lost consciousness immediately, right in the cockpit.

In May 1944, Major Bobrov found Devyataev and introduced him to the Hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel Alexander Pokryshkin, who was about to take command of the 9th Fighter Division. The latter took Mikhail in the 104th Aviation Regiment that had received Airacobra P-39N aircraft from allies.

The commander of the 104th Fighter Aviation Regiment, lieutenant Devyataev, had downed nine enemy aircraft by that time. Luck turned away from him on 13 July 1944, near Lviv: his plane was shot down. Jumping out of the burning aircraft, Mikhail hit the tail stabilizer and lost consciousness. He managed to pull the ring of the parachute, though. The pilot was taken captive.

Devyatayev later recalled: "I was standing in front of the desk, at which the officer was sitting. He talked to me through the interpreter. They asked me if I was Russian. I told them that I was from Mordovia, which was true. The officer said that he didn't know such a nationality. I told him that he did not know a lot of things about our country."

The Germans moved their POWs further to the rear, to the camp at Kleinkoenigsberg. At the camp, a group of compatriots, to which Mikhail joined, was plotting to escape. Nazis decided to use the prisoners and their work to the utmost. The POWs were transferred to the death camp of Sachsenhausen, where they were expecting imminent death from overwork or inhuman experiments on living people.

In sanitation barracks, the hairdresser replaced Mikhail's death row label with a "penalty man" one that belonged to murdered Ukrainian teacher Stepan G. Nikitenko. According to documents, Mikhail Devyatayev was "killed and burned." A corresponding entry was made on December 5, 1944.

Under the name of Stepan Nikitenko, the pilot was sent to the island of Usedom, to Karlshagen I camp, where Nazis were developing secret weapons - cruise missiles V-1 and ballistic missiles V-2. Soviet prisoners performed the role of forced assistants there. A death camp is not a resort. Nazis could send anyone to the gas chamber or beat anyone to death at any time, especially when a worker could hardly work from exhaustion.

One of the participants of the escape, Ivan Krivonogov (he killed the guard) wrote in his memoirs: "Near the airdrome, the Germans made a dump of broken aircraft. Mikhail would try to approach them at any moment, to take a closer look at control levels. Sometimes he managed to tear off labels with the names of devices and bring them to the camp, where he translated them into Russian. Mikhail tried to remember the name, purpose and location of devices."

Finally, on a sunny day of February 8, 1945, having killed a security guard, a group of 11 prisoners came up to the twin-engine bomber Heinkel He 111. The prisoners boarded the plane very quickly. They were lucky that no German anti-aircraft gun fired at them. They were lucky during the flight when Nazis sent a Luftwaffe ace after them, but he failed to find the fugitives. The other one, who was returning from a mission, could not execute the order due to the lack of ammunition. The fugitives were even luckier, when they landed on Soviet territory and when Soviet anti-aircraft gunners did not attack the German plane.

Igor Bukker

- See more at: http://www.pravdareport.com/history/12-03-2013/124046-death_camp_nazi-0/#sthash.ALmkkhWA.dpuf

21 Years Ago...

The 1995 Airstan incident was a 1995 international incident involving Russia and the Taliban of Afghanistan. In August 1995, Taliban-controlled fighter aircraft intercepted an Airstan Ilyushin Il-76TD transport aircraft, with seven Russian nationals on board, forcing it to land at Taliban-occupied Kandahar International Airport. The men were held prisoner for one year before making their escape; after overpowering their captors they re-possessed their aircraft, flying it to freedom.

In 1995, Afghanistan was in a state of civil war. In late 1994 the Taliban movement sprang out of Kandahar and by early 1995 had taken control of most of the country south of Kabul, forcing other Afghan groups to abandon territory. In August 1995 the Russian crew of the Ilyushin Il-76 was working for Tatarstan-based Airstan, which was in turn leasing their plane to Rus Trans Avia Export, a Russian company that was based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. On board the plane were Russian nationals: Vladimir Sharpatov (commander), Gazinur Khairullin (second pilot), Alexander Zdor (navigator), Askhad Abbyazov, Yuri Vshivtsev, Sergei Butuzov and Viktor Ryazanov. They were transporting 30 tons of weapons from Albania to the besieged Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Capture and captivity
On 3 August 1995 a Taliban Air Force MiG-21 aircraft forced the Russian aircraft to land at Kandahar. Negotiations between the Russian government and the Taliban to free the men stalled for over a year and efforts by American senator Hank Brown to mediate between the two parties broke down over a prisoner exchange. The Taliban stated that they would free the airmen if the Russians released Afghans held by the Russian government. However the Russians denied holding any Afghan citizens. Brown was able to get the Taliban to agree that the Russian crew should be allowed to maintain their aircraft. This request paved the way for their escape.

The Russians had been planning their escape for over a year. After Hank Brown secured visits to their aircraft for the whole crew they secretly not only did routine maintenance but prepared it for flight. On each trip the crew would be guarded by six Taliban guards but on 16 August 1996, half of the guards left the crew for afternoon prayers. Seizing the opportunity, the Russians overpowered the remaining guards and the pilot was able to start one engine from the APU (itself started with a battery). With one engine running, the remaining three could easily be started. The aircraft, with all seven of the crew aboard, quickly taxied down the runway. The Taliban tried to block the runway with a fire truck but the aircraft was able to take to the air thus avoiding the obstacle.The escapees were able to quickly exit Taliban controlled airspace and charted a course to the United Arab Emirates. The crew's escape was greeted with excitement and relief by the Russians and Russian President Boris Yeltsin telephoned the crewmen to congratulate them as they flew to Russia on a Russian government aircraft.
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That was a very informative and enjoyable read @diman thanks for sharing it.

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