Olga Leonova: epitaph to the epoch
He looks like my grandfather in some way. He resembles my grandfather may be by his hair, or may be by his attentive and a little bit cunning expression of his slanting eyes, or may be by the fact that both of them were veterans and both were Russian soldiers.
They say that the man is known only after death. Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov has passed away less than 24 hours ago and it seems that the clod has gone, that the last nail has been hammered into the lid of the epoch. There is the unbelievable feeling of a loss.
One of the 18 children of the kulak family, the future legendary constructor was one of the eight children, who survived. He was keen on the machinery since his childhood. Maybe, he was one of those children, for whom the handful s of the parts of the dismantled watch were more important than the watch ticking on his hand. It is such a rare trait of character among children nowadays.
Kalashnikov was drafted to the army from the depot. The former worker of the railway was allotted to the 12th tank division. There he showed his first inventions: inertial counter of the shots from the tank gun, the gadget for the gun TT for increasing of the effectiveness of shooting through the slots in the tank turret and the meter of the motor potential of the tank. The latter was almost implemented in the arming: it was planned to implement it in the batch production, but failed because of the beginning of the war.
“But for the war I would, probably, become the constructor of the agricultural machinery. It is the Germans fault that I became the constructor of weapons.”
At the end of summer in 1942 he was at the front as a motor mechanic of the tank crew. In October he was wounded near Bryansk, but not killed, he was preserved for the occupation of all his life.
“When the war began, I was drafted to the front and saw that almost all the German soldiers had the automatic guns and we during the first days of the war had even one rifle for two people. I had a strong desire to create the submachine-gun myself. And in 1941 when I badly wounded was at the hospital, I had nightmares at night. I got a notebook and a pencil. When I woke up at night I imagined what submachine-gun I would make. In the morning I took my notebook and made sketches. It was a kind of the self defense: I forgot not only about the nightmares but about the day pain and it was my first construction experience.
After the hospital the doctors gave him six months for aftercare. This time he dedicated to the improvement of the invented by him submachine-gun.
When Kalashnikov was 27 his development won in the competition held in 1947 and was implemented into the arming. At 27 this guy reached the peak and, moreover, received the Stalin prize.
“The most important award is, of course, that first one, the Stalin prize, which I received for AK-47. That joy, probably, cannot be compared to anything else.”
“I invented the weapons not for the murder of people but for protection of my Motherland. I am often asked: “How can you sleep peacefully, when so many people were murdered from your submachine-gun?” And I answer them “I sleep perfectly. Let the politicians, who arrange wars, have bad sleep.” It is not the constructor’s fault.”
AK-47 is light, cozily fitting to the hand, reliable, and simple. AK-47 is in the memory of every soldier of the Soviet Army, every boy, who is pretending to be either an intelligence officer or a partisan, moving through the yard bushes to the home front of the Fascists, has the plastic copy of the gun from the toy shop. It is known in Asia, Africa, and in the Middle East. Everyone needs peace, which is reached with the help of weapons: there are 100 million AK guns in the world. The USSR could become rich, but the mighty country sold the license for the production of the Kalashnikov submachine-gun for nothing to its friends.
“I think that the dream of all the people, as well as mine, is the peace and harmony in the world, order and happiness of the compatriots, and there will always be work for us, the constructors. I like nature, forest, birds and animals very much. If it happens so that the military weapons will become unnecessary, I will construct the camera guns, and will do my best for them to shoot as good as our submachine-guns.
This man lived in the realities of the cult Soviet film Officers the convinced military man and the convinced communist of the old training. Just one example: the journalist Glina Sapozhnikova recalled Kalashnikov teaching her to pickle cucumbers after they were introduced in person: “He told:”They need to be put into the jar as the cartridge!” This phrase contains all the organization of life and work: simple, convenient and reliable.
“Once, Yeltsin presented me with the rewarding gun. I went to the Kremlin, Moscow. There was the Makarov gun in the box. At the hotel I examined it and wondered why the President of the country presented me with such a shattered and disorderly sample. It is not a reward but a shame. I was upset and wrote to the rewarding department: “I will give back this sample to you. It only humiliates us; I know how the rewarding gun should look like.”
АК is one of the latest inventions, which has the real value: on the edge of life and death, beyond the good and the evil. This is not the iPad or the MacBook. This is one of the symbols of the Russian war, like the song Katysha and the star on the field cap.
Rest in peace the great Russian man with the simple Russian surname Kalashnikov.