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Source: http://worldoftanks.ru/ru/news/pc-browser/12/love_strong_as_armor/

Hello everyone,

once again, we survived the Valentine’s Day (hopefully) unscathed, but when it comes to the topic of love, there’s one thing that I’d like to return to and it is the article on Russian WoT portal by Yuri Bakhurin, called “Love, strong as armor”, about the life story of Zhosef Kotin (the famous Soviet tank designer) and Anastasiya Polkonnova, who both got to live in the difficult times of WW2. This is their story.


Long before the war, in the early 30′s, when the Soviet army armored forces were being still re-armed, a girl student enlisted the F.E.Dzerzhinsky Military-Technical Academy. At first, Anastasiya “Nastya” Polkonnova was attending the Faculty of Chemistry, but after half a year, she achieved her goal of transferring to the Faculty of Mechanization and Motorization. It was not simple to keep up with other students, but she tried hard and she became very successful in mastering various armored vehicles, as confirmed by a number of “For exemplary tank driving” honor badges on her school dress. She did not only want to keep up, she wanted to be one of the best.

Many future officers at the academy liked Nastya, but never once were the feelings mutual – safe for one case, Zhosef Kotin. He was a handsome man and also an exemplary student both isn studying and in combat preparation and also a gentleman and so, the two young people fell for one another. Kotin’s military career was very promising – after all, he (a graduate) was mentioned even by the commander of the Leningrad military district, M.Tukhachevsky. Zhosef Kotin started working at the Armor academy as a military vehicle designer.

Anastasiya graduated two years after him and the two got married after that. Unfortunately, they did not have the opportunity to start a family, as service duty scattered both of them across the country. Anastasiya went to became a military liaison in the Leningrad tank plant, while Zhosef went to Kharkov to test a new tank. In his letters to his wife, he shared his impressions:

“I am working on the T-35… it’s an interesting job, I have never seen such tests before. My dear, imagine a “dreadnought”, passing vertical obstacles. It’s a colossal show. I am attending the tests almost every day, the rest of the time I work in the assembly.”

In 1935, Kotin wrote his wife, that he “took some time to fly and swim”. Seems like an innocent phrase, but the meaning was quite different. During this time, not only the designer led the work on air and water deployment of tanks, but he also participated in the testing. By that time, in 1935, Kotin’s first son, Felix, was born.

The year 1937 brought to both of them one more piece of good news: Zhosef Kotin was appointed to be the head of the special design bureau of the Kirov plant, the largest tank- and vehicle-producing plant in the USSR. His task was to build new heavy tanks and Kotin worked on it with all his strength.

By the autumn of 1937 however, trouble in the Kotin family started, as Anastasiya was dismissed from the army and charged with treason (connection with the enemies of the nation and sabotage). It was the time of the “Great Purge” in the army and such an accusation could have tragic consequences. Zhosef Kotin could of course stay idle and he was not afraid to defend his wife before Stalin himself. He wrote him a letter:

“Me and comrade Polkonnova are together since 1931 and I take full responsibility of her… distrust to her is distrust to me … it’s a result of some misunderstanding or slander. I am asking you, comrade Stalin, for help in this grave matter.”

This emotional appeal could bring trouble even to the designer himself, but the risk was not in vain. Charges were lifted from Anastasiya Polkonnova-Kotin and she was accepted as the first ever woman in USSR as a tanker in the Red Army as a “military engineer, 3rd rank”. And so the life went on with the largest of trials still ahead, the Second World War. Zhosef Kotin led the team, that designed the KV and IS-2 tanks, pursued by rumors of him being personally under the protection and patronage of Marshal Voroshilov, allegedly the father of Anastasiya. But in the end, everything fell in place and both Anastasiya and Zhozef Kotin survived the war.

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