1914 Illustration of Cossack Hero Kuzma Firsovich
Kryuchkov,winning the first St George Cross awarded in World
War I. A dramatic stone lithograph image printed in Grodno.
Measures 19 5/8" x 13 1/2". A battle scene printed in
vibrant colors complete with a patriotic poem printed across
the bottom. Printed in Grodno, a city now located in Belarus
close to its border with Poland.
Very good condition. Several tears or weak spots in the
paper have been corrected with acid-free archival paper tape
and are not noticeable.
Kryuchkov, an almost stereotypical Don Cossack cavalryman
from the town of Kalmykov in the district of Ust-Khopersk,
was the first Russian hero of the Great War. He and only two
comrades impetuously took on a patrol of twenty-seven German
cavalrymen in August of 1914 and soundly defeated it.
Depending upon which version of the tale you read, he
personally dispatched almost half of the Germans himself,
receiving 16 wounds in the process! He was awarded the first
St. George Cross of the war, was introduced personally to
the Tsar (who, in keeping with his beliefs about the true
nature of the Russian peasantry, was probably pleased to
discover that Kuzma could neither read nor write), and
became the closest thing to a certifiable "super star" that
pre-Revolutionary Russia ever knew. (His feat actually
earned him international renown: a few paragraphs about his
bravery appeared half way around the world in an August,
1914 morning edition of the New York Times!)
For over a year, his face was appeared everywhere: on
posters, on packaging, in newspaper cartoons. After about
1916, however, he seems to have slipped off the pages of
history, his fifteen minutes of fame expired - although we
have seen a Soviet-era "Cossack" toy soldier that bear an
uncanny resemblance to him, with his visor cap perched at an
insane angle on top of a bushy head of hair!