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The first and only selfless ally of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War was the then independent Republic of Tuva. This small state, which became part of the Soviet Union in 1944, sent to the front not only thousands of horses, tons of food and all its gold reserves, but also fearless volunteers. Friends get to know each other in trouble The People's Republic of Tannu-Tuva (TNR) was formed in August 1921. It was not part of the USSR, had its own Constitution, which, in particular, established freedom of religion. De jure, the TNR had political independence, although it depended on the RSFSR. Soviet troops were completely withdrawn from Tuva by 1923, the USSR sometimes provided all possible assistance to Tuva, but never claimed its independence.
On June 22, 1941, Tuva entered the war on the side of the USSR. That was done in the Republic to victory over Nazism, told researcher at the National Museum of the Republic of Tuva, Ondar Tengiz: "The first day of the war the Tenth Great Hural of TNR unanimously adopted a Declaration, which proclaimed: "the Tuvan people, led by a revolutionary party and government, not sparing their lives, ready to participate in the struggle of the Soviet people against the fascist aggressor until the final victory over him"". Thus, Tuva became the first official ally of the USSR, ahead of Great Britain. Winston Churchill's radio message addressed to the Soviet people was transmitted at 11 p.m. on June 22, and a similar message from Tuva arrived in the morning."
The "royal" gift Shortly after the completion of the Tenth Great Hural of the TNR, the entire gold reserve of the republic was transferred to the USSR free of charge. In addition, our country was granted the right to extract Tuvan gold. The total cost of this gift was 35 million "then" rubles. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that the payment and purchasing power of this money was ten times higher than the current Russian rubles. It can be said that in the early days of the Great Patriotic War, Tuva gave all the most valuable things she had to help the Red Army. From a poor state, whose population at that time was only 90 thousand people, it was a truly "royal" gift. With the money raised by the population of the republic, three fighter squadrons and two tank brigades were created.
Planes and tanks From 1941 to 1944, the USSR gratuitously received 50,000 horses from Tuva. New enterprises were created especially for the needs of the front in Tuva. "If previously tanned sheepskin was supplied to the USSR, now we have started sewing sheepskin coats at newly created enterprises. The Red Army received from Tuva 10 thousand sheepskin coats, 20 thousand mittens, 16 thousand pairs of felt boots and 67 tons of wool. Bread picking, fish salting and berry picking have started all over the republic. As a result, 400 tons of meat, ghee and flour were sent to the front," says Tengiz Ondar. In addition, Tuvans sent 52 thousand pairs of skis, tons of honey, canned fruit and berry concentrates, bandages, medicinal herbs and medicines of national medicine, wax, resin, etc. to the Red Army.
"With the money raised by the population of the republic, three fighter squadrons and two tank brigades were created. And in 1944, 30 thousand cows were donated to Ukraine. It was with this livestock that the post-war revival of Ukrainian animal husbandry began. The only commodity that was sold to the USSR for money was furs," says a researcher at the Tuva National Museum. Every three months echelons with gifts for soldiers and officers of the Red Army were sent from Tuva to the front. In each such train there were from 50 to 65 cars. "The gifts were uncomplicated, but necessary: snuffboxes, footcloths, towels, warm clothes and just letters," says Ondar.
In total, during the war years, Tuva supplied almost 750 thousand cattle to the USSR, including for export operations. There was not a single Tuvan family that did not give their cattle from 10 to 100 heads to the front. And the total amount of material assistance to the Tuvan population of the USSR has almost reached 70 million rubles. On August 17, 1944, the VII session of the Small Hural of the Tuva People's Republic adopted a declaration of accession to the USSR. Tuva became part of a large state. Only volunteers! In the autumn of 1942, the Soviet government allowed volunteers from Tuva to be accepted for military service. But immediately after that there was a problem with the call - not all residents of this republic spoke Russian. In the spring of 1943, the first 3,500 Russian-speaking Tuvinians went to the front. On September 1, 206 volunteers who did not know Russian went to the front. These were cavalrymen under the command of Tulush Baldanovich Kecil-oola, he alone understood the commands of senior military leaders.
"A separate Tuvan volunteer squadron was created from among our cavalrymen. Before the oath, they were personally checked by Colonel-General Gazovikov. The inspection took place in the city of Kovrov. Gazovikov noted then that the squadron "is well prepared, politically savvy and represents a worthy combat unit of the Red Army. Of the 206 volunteers, 69 did not return from the war. In 1944, it was decided to recall them from the front, so that the front-line soldiers in their homeland could tell what the war with fascism was, how their comrades died. To date, not a single veteran has survived from these volunteers," says a museum employee. The Tuvan Cavalry Squadron was part of the 8th Cavalry Division. Tuvinians participated, in particular, in raids on the Fascist rear and Bandera groups in the west of Ukraine. Tulusha Baldanovich Kecil-ool, the commander of the Tuvan Volunteer Cavalry Squadron, was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
"The Black Death"
The Tuvans always stood to the death, even with the obvious superiority of the enemy, and never took prisoners. For this, and also for the specific dark skin color, the Germans nicknamed them Der Schwarze Tod - the Black Death. The first Tuvan volunteers were a typical national unit, they were dressed in national costumes, wore amulets. According to German officer G. Remke, the soldiers "subconsciously perceived these barbarians (Tuvans) as Attila's hordes lost all combat capability." For example, the Hero of the Soviet Union, the Tuvan Khomushku Churguy-ool, was a mechanic-driver of the T-34 tank of the 52nd army of the same, the 25th tank Regiment throughout the war. Another Tuvinian, Kyrgyz Chamzyryn, a knight of many Soviet orders, including the Order of Glory, met on May 9 in Prague.
10 Tuvan Red Army soldiers learned to be mechanics-drivers of the famous T-34. Two of them were awarded the highest military award – the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for their unparalleled courage shown in battle. Khomushku Namgaevich Churguy-ool as part of the 25th Tank Regiment of the 52nd Army reached Prague on his tank, and Mikhail Artemyevich Bukhtuev did not live to see the Great Victory - he received the title of Hero posthumously. About 20 Tuvan soldiers became knights of the Order of Glory, up to 5,000 Tuvan soldiers were awarded other Soviet, as well as Tuvan, orders and medals.