Polina Vladimirovna Gelman (Russian: Поли́на Влади́мировна Ге́льман, Ukrainian: Поли́на Володи́мирівна Ге́льман; 24 October 1919 – 25 November 2005) was a decorated Soviet Air Force officer, recognized as a Hero of the Soviet Union for her service with the famed Night Witches unit during World War II.
== Early life ==
Born to a working-class Jewish family from the Ukrainian city of Berdychiv in 1919, after the death of her father she lived in Gomel, Belarus with her mother. In 1938 she completed ten grades of school and attended a glider school before entering Moscow State University, which she attended until 1941.
== World War II ==
Gelman volunteered in October 1941 for the newly formed Aviation Group No.122, which consisted of the three women's aviation regiments of Soviet Air Forces founded by Marina Raskova after repeated disqualifications of her attempt to volunteer as a result of her short stature. Following training at Engels Military Aviation School, she became a navigator in 1942 in the all-female 588th Night Bomber Regiment, later redesignated as the 46th Taman Guards. Gelman had completed 860 missions and attained the rank of senior lieutenant by the time of Nazi Germany's capitulation to the Allies. She was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in 1946.
== Postwar activities ==
Continuing her career as a professional military officer, she was sent for instruction as a military translator, graduating from the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in 1951.Gelman settled in Moscow following her retirement from active service as a major in 1957, and worked at the Institute of Social Sciences teaching political economy as a college instructor until retiring in 1990. She attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the reserves. A member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union since 1942, she was sent as an advisor and translator to Cuba.Gelman's memoirs were published in Moscow in 1982. She died on 25 November 2005 in Moscow, where she was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery.
== Honours and awards ==
Hero of the Soviet Union (15 May 1946)
Order of Lenin (15 May 1946)
Two Orders of the Red Banner (25 October 1943 and 22 May 1945)
Two Orders of the Patriotic War 1st class (26 April 1944 and 11 March 1985)
Two Orders of the Red Star (9 September 1945 and 30 December 1956)
Medal "For Battle Merit" (19 November 1951)
campaign and jubilee medals
== See also ==
46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment
List of female Heroes of the Soviet Union
List of Jewish Heroes of the Soviet Union
== References ==
=== Bibliography ===
Simonov, Andrey; Chudinova, Svetlana (2017). Женщины - Герои Советского Союза и России. Moscow: Russian Knights Foundation and Museum of Technology Vadim Zadorozhny. ISBN 9785990960701. OCLC 1019634607.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Cottam, Kazimiera (1998). Women in War and Resistance: Selected Biographies of Soviet Women Soldiers. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co. ISBN 1585101605. OCLC 228063546.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
== External links ==
Polina Gelman at Find a Grave