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Alexander Marinesko : biography

January 15, 1913 - November 25, 1963
Contains information translated from the corresponding article in the Russian Wikipedia; may be expanded

Alexander Ivanovich Marinesko ( , Aleksandr Ivanovich Marinesko, Alexander Marinesco; ) (January 15, 1913 - November 25, 1963) was a Soviet naval officer and, during World War II, the captain of the S-13 submarine, which sank the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff, with recent research showing that over 9,000 died when the ship sank.

Honours and awards

  • Hero of the Soviet Union
  • Two Orders of Lenin
  • Two Orders of the Red Banenr
  • Medal "For Military Merit"
  • Medal "For the Defence of Leningrad"
  • Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Leningrad"


Marinesko was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously, in May 1990, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the victory in Europe. At about the same time, the Ulitsa Stroitelei (Builders' Street) in St. Petersburg was renamed in his honor to Ulitsa Marinesko, located in Kirovskiy District, connecting Avtovskaya and Zaitseva streets. The was named after him, and monuments dedicated to him were erected in Kaliningrad, Kronstadt, and Odessa. He is one of the more prominent characters in the Günter Grass' novel Crabwalk (2002), which describes in detail the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.


In 1960, Marinesco, by then very ill, was restored to his wartime rank of captain third rank and granted a full pension. He died in Leningrad after a long and serious illness on November 25, 1963, and was buried at the Theological cemetery in St. Petersburg.

Great Patriotic War

After the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941, the high command of the Baltic Fleet decided that the M-96 should be sent to the Caspian Sea to serve there as a training boat. But this could not be realized because of the German blockade of Leningrad. On 12 February 1942 a German artillery shell hit the M-96 causing considerable damage. The repair required more than four months. Because of the long inactivity, the level of battle training of the crew was low. Marinesko began to find consolation in alcohol, and he was expelled as a candidate member of the Communist Party.

During a patrol near the Finnish coast, on August 14, 1942 Marinesko spotted the German heavy artillery barge (Schwerer Artillerie-Träger) SAT-4 "Helena". He launched a torpedo and later reported that he had observed the sinking of the barge. In 1946, the barge was turned over to the Soviet Baltic Fleet as war prize and it was found that her displacement was not 7,000 BRT as claimed by Marinesko, but only 400 BRT. Then Marinesko exposed his submarine to real risk by prematurely returning without any warning to his base. Soviet patrol boats attacked M-96, and a tragedy was avoided by sheer luck. In October 1942, M-96 had to disembark a commando detachment on the coast of Narva Bay. Its task was to attack a German headquarters and capture an "Enigma" coding machine. Although only half of the unit returned, without the machine, Marinesko had performed his task successfully and was decorated with the Order of Lenin and promoted to captain third rank (lieutenant-commander). He was again admitted as a candidate-member to the Communist Party.

In the beginning of 1943, Marinesko was appointed commander of the modernized submarine S-13. Of the 13 units of the type S (Stalinets), series IX and IXbis, only this boat survived the war. Leaving the base in the Finnish town of Hanko in October 1944, S-13 took position near the Hela peninsula, where the main German communication lines passed. Marinesko soon spotted the small transport ship "Siegfried" (563 BRT) and launched four torpedoes, which all failed. He surfaced and opened fire at the ship with his cannon. He reported 15 hits and that, as a result, the ship was sunk. He stated that the displacement of this ship was 6,000 BRT. In fact, the "Siegfried" was hit severely, but managed to reach the harbor of Danzig.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine