April 16, 1934, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR decree "On establishing of the highly order - the Hero of the Soviet Union" was adopted.
The document said that "Hero of the Soviet Union is the highest degree of excellence and is awarded for personal or collective merits before the Soviet state and society associated with accomplishment of a heroic deed." According to the Decree, the Heroes of the Soviet Union received a special mention of the CEC of the USSR.
April 20, 1934, the CEC USSR signed the first decree to confer the title on seven pilots who had shown courage and bravery in rescuing the crew of the "Cheliuskin" icebreaker wrecked in the ice of the Arctic Ocean. Among the Heroes were: A. V. Liapidevsky, M. V. Vodop'yanov, I. D. Doronin, N. P. Kamanin, S. A. Levanevsky, V. S. Molokov, M. T. Slepnyov. The eighth title of the Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to a famous test pilot M. M. Gromov September 28, 1934.
July 29, 1936 the Regulations about the rank of the Hero of the Soviet Union were published. It introduced a procedure for awarding the Heroes of the Soviet Union, in addition to the deed of the CEC, the Order of Lenin - the highest award of the USSR. According to the document the title of Hero of the Soviet Union could be assigned only once. The Hero of the Soviet Union could be deprived of the title due to a special resolution of the CEC.
August 1, 1939, by a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR "On additional insignia for Heroes of the Soviet Union" there was introduced a special distinguishing mark - the medal "Hero of the Soviet Union", which was awarded simultaneously with the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin. Under the decree of October 16, 1939, the appearance of the medal in the shape of a five-pointed star, dubbed "Gold Star" was approved.
Unlike the Regulations of 1936, the Decree of 1939 provided for the possibility of multiple awarding of the "Gold Star". Hero of the Soviet Union, having performed the second heroic feat, was awarded a second "Gold Star" medal, and the bust of the hero was to be constructed in his homeland; twice Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded the third medal when his bronze bust was constructed at the Palace of Soviets in Moscow. Those awarded the second and third medals did not receive additional Orders of Lenin.
The title of the Hero of the Soviet Union was the first of the two higher decorations of the USSR, Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of Socialist Labor. This is the highest and most honorable award of the Soviet period, although by no means the most rare. An overwhelming number of Heroes of the Soviet Union appeared in the Great Patriotic War; over the entire period of the Soviet rule the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 12,776 people (excluding 72 deprived of the title and 13 canceled Decrees).
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the "Hero of the Soviet Union" was abolished. Instead, the "Hero of the Russian Federation" was established March 20, 1992 in Russia, also assigned for outstanding feats in the glory of the motherland.
Lit.: Герои Советского Союза: Краткий биографический словарь / Пред. ред. коллегии И. Н. Шкадов. М., 1987. Т. 1 (Абаев — Любичев); То же. М., 1988. Т. 2 (Любов — Ящук); Статистика по героям Советского Союза [Электронный ресурс] // Патриотический интернет-проект «Герои страны». 2000-2019. URL: http://www.warheroes.ru/stats.asp.