Nikulina, Anna Vladimirovna (Combatants/Military Personnel)

(b. 1904)

Soviet military heroine. Anna Vladimirovna Nikulina hoisted a red flag on the roof of the Third Reich’s Chancellery in Berlin as the Russians fought to seize the city. At the time she was senior instructor and secretary of the party commission in the 9th Brandenburg Infantry Corps, which had covered 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles) from Mozdok in the Caucasus to Berlin.

She was born in the Cossack village of Batal-pashinskaia (renamed Cherkessk). When she was fourteen, her father, the first chairman of his village’s Poor Peasants’ Committee, was hanged by men of the counterrevolutionary Denikin army, who ransacked the family’s living quarters, mistreating Anna’s mother and grandfather. Nikulina, in reaction, became the first member of the Komsomol (Young Communist League) in her village. Elected her district’s Komsomol committee secretary, she studied at the Communist University of Saratov and a political-technical college in Rostov. A Party member since 1925, she married Nikolai Vinogradov, a fellow university student who became a Party official and was subsequently killed by opponents of collectivization.

The widowed Nikulina worked in a factory and held various local Party posts. She eventually attended the Academy of Water Transport. Her dream was to circumnavigate the globe, but instead she covered some 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles), at least partly on foot, from Moz-dok to Berlin. To go to war she left her two children, a son and daughter, with her sister. Initially a political commissar of a hospital, after graduating from the Military Political School in Rostov, Nikulina underwent a baptism of fire at Mozdok along with a tankborne assault force. On another occasion, when an infantry company commander was killed, she led his men under fire, capturing the village of Angeli-novskaia in the Caucasus. Her role as political officer was not only to lead and encourage men under fire, but also to interact with them daily as a morale officer.

By the end of April 1945 the fighting in Berlin was carried out by small Soviet assault groups. Summoned by her Corps’ commanding officer, Nikulina was ordered to lead an assault team tasked with the mission of hoisting a red flag on the roof of the Chancellery. She was assigned four men from the 1050th Infantry Regiment’s No. 2 Battalion commanded by F. K. Shapovalov (whose nephew in 1984 wrote an account of the mission based on an interview with Nikulina, who was then eighty years old).

Nikulina wrapped the flag around her waist under a leather jacket. Early on May 2 Nikulina’s party of five forced their way into the building under heavy fire. The fighting was especially intense on the third floor. After Soviet soldiers inside the building cleared the stairs, Nikulina and her men ran up to the attic, where two of them were killed and one was seriously wounded. With the fourth soldier, Nikulina managed to climb through a hole in the attic onto the roof and to secure the flag to a spire with a telephone cable. Later, in the Fuhrer’s bunker, Shapovalov offered her his congratulations.

She participated in the Victory Parade in Moscow on June 24, 1945, where she was reunited with her son, a naval cadet. After the war Nikulina played an active role in reconstruction, distinguished herself as Party organizer, and wrote a book. A recipient of at least ten decorations, she did not receive the Hero of the Soviet Union. Instead, for her feat in Berlin, she was presented with the Order of the Red Banner.

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