Today 75 years ago Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev raised the Soviet Flag at the Reichstag building in Berlin
On April 30, 1945, Lieutenant Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev and private Grigory Bulatov approached the central part of the Reichstag building and were the first to hoist up the Red Flag of the Soviet Union as a banner of victory in the World War II, or the Great Patriotic War, as it was named in the USSR.
What do we know about the life of the legendary Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev?
He was born in the village of Taitobe in Akmola region. He lost his parents at an early age. His mother died when he was four years old. His father was the victim of political repression and was sent to GULAG on a malicious denunciation. Little Rakhimzhan was raised in an orphanage. After completing seven years of secondary school, Koshkarbayev entered the factory school. He also studied at the Tambov Military Academy, which was evacuated to the city of Frunze (current Bishkek). Later, after barely reaching 18 years old, he joined the Red Army. On April 16, 1945, during the heavy fighting, over 40 German soldiers were killed after the platoon led by Koshkarbayev seized three machine guns in hand-to-hand combat and opened fire on the remaining German soldiers in the trench.
April 29, 1945 is a fateful day in the life of Lieutenant Koshkarbayev. In the Spree River in Germany, a bloody battle with the participation of the platoon of Koshkarbayev takes place. The battle that began in Oder, reached the Reichstag. As a result of the battle, his platoon killed over 200 German soldiers and held 184 of them hostage. Later, the Koshkarbayev’s unit will receive for this the Order of the Patriotic War of the first degree.
Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev spoke about his historical feat in an interview published on February 28, 1958 in the newspaper ‘Leninskaya molodezh’ (Leninist Youth)
“The battalion commander, captain Davydov, called me to his office.
‘Lieutenant Koshkarbayev, there is a combat mission for you,’ Davydov said.
‘I am ready to begin.’
Vasilchenko joined the conversation.
‘Can you see the building over there? This is the Reichstag – our enemy’s lair.’
‘We need to hoist up the Red Flag of the Soviet Union! A group of scouts led by Lieutenant Sorokin was specially sent from the regiment,’ Davydov said, pointing to the guys standing nearby.
‘They will go with you. The whole battalion supports you.’
‘Yes, Comrade Captain!”.
The distance from the ‘Himmler’s House’ to the Reichstag was only 360 meters, but it was an open area, shelled from all sides. Lieutenant Koshkarbayev and his soldiers overcame this distance under a heavy fire in seven hours.
Together with Grigory Bulatov, following the order, he hoisted up the Soviet Banner of Victory on the facade of the Reichstag building in Berlin.
“Wait, give me a hand!’ I lifted him, holding his legs.
‘Put your feet on my shoulders.’
He jumped onto my shoulders. I pulled the flag from my jacket and gave it to him.
‘Hang up! Tie it up!’
At that moment, a rocket flashed through the sky. It was a signal to our soldiers to attack. In the light of the rocket, we saw our Victory Banner, as if stained with the blood of the fallen soldiers, that showed the way ahead.”
Life after war
After World War II, Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev served in the liberated territories. In 1964-1967, he worked in the Akmola region as an inspector in the Department of Migration under the Council of Ministers. Since 1967, he worked as a director of Alma-Ata Hotel, remaining in the position for almost 20 years. He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of the Great Patriotic War of the 1st degree, medals ‘For the Capture of Berlin’ and ‘For the Liberation of Warsaw’. Koshkarbayev was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for his Reichstag feat. In 2001, he was awarded with the ‘Khalyk Kaharmany’ title (Hero of the Nation). Koshkarbayev died on August 10, 1988 in Almaty.