Kombat (photograph)

Kombat

Kombat (Russian: Комбат, lit. 'battalion commander') is a black-and-white photograph by the Soviet photographer Max Alpert. It depicts a Soviet military officer armed with a TT pistol who is raising his unit for an attack during World War II. This work is regarded as one of the most iconic Soviet World War II photographs, yet neither the date nor the subject is known with certainty. According to the most widely accepted version, the photograph depicts junior politruk Aleksei Gordeyevich Yeryomenko [ru], minutes before his death on 12 July 1942, in Voroshilovgrad Oblast, Ukraine.

History

Over the years Alpert gave several contradictory versions of the event, with dates ranging from autumn 1941 to 1943.[1][2] However, it is unlikely that it is a 1943 photograph, as the M43 tunic with shoulder boards is not being worn, and the collar differs from that on the M43. He was consistent in that he did not know the officer's name, and that the photograph's title kombat ("commander of a battalion") was likely inaccurate – after he took it, he overheard that "the kombat is killed" and tentatively associated this message with the subject of the photograph. After the war Alpert received numerous letters claiming identification of the officer, but only one was confirmed by a joint investigation by Komsomolskaya Pravda and administration of Lugansk Oblast undertaken in the 1970s. According to this reconstructed version, Yeryomenko was the political commissar in his unit. When the commander was wounded, he took command and raised the unit for a counterattack against the German offence. He died within minutes after that.[3][4]