- CASE FILES
Born on Feb. 2, 1921, Russian Federation
He was the oldest and also the most mysterious member of the group. He asked to called Sasha and that's the name he appears in many documents and memoirs. In fact, his given name is Semyon and came from the North Caucasus (from the Kuban Cossacks, from the village of Udobnoy on the border with the Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic), where he regularly went to his mothers. Born in the family of a paramedic, he belonged to the generation most affected by the Great Patriotic War. The draft of 1921-22 had only about 3% survival rate. Semyon went through the entire war in the Armed Forces from October 1941 to May 1946. He became a candidate member of the CPSU (b) in 1944, was a Komsomol functionary of a battalion, joined the party after the war. Had 4 military awards. Semyon Zolotaryov's military past has a special role in the events of the tragic night. After the war, Semyon tried to continue his military career - in June 1945 he entered the Moscow Military Engineering School, which, however, almost immediately underwent a reduction. In April 1946, Zolotaryov transferred to the Leningrad Military Engineering School as part of the course, but apparently it was not meant for him to serve in the army, as this school was cut down as well. In the end, Semyon Zolotaryov found himself at the Minsk Institute of Physical Education (GIFKB), which he successfully graduated in 1951. In the mid-50's he worked as a tourist instructor at the tourist center "Artybash" (Altai), then moved to the Sverdlovsk region, where he got a job as a senior tourism instructor at the Kourovka camp site. However, before the very hike to Otorten, along with the group of Igor Dyatlov, Zolotaryov left Kourovka. He was single, which looked rather unusual for that time, had tattoos
and gold capped teeth. Zolotaryov's tattoos are very interesting, among them there were images of a five-pointed star, strange shape like beets-heart-fire (in the case files says beets), the name "Гена" (Guena), his year of birth "1921", ДАЕРММУАЗУАЯ (DAERMMUZAUAYA), "Г+С+П=Д", this was common among Soviet soldiers who served together for a long time. Russian letter "Д" stands for "дружба" (friendship). The three letters were first letters of the three soldiers. "С" stood for "Семен", Semyon in Russian. Others two names are unknown. Then we have "Г + С", as well as individual letters "C" next to the star and beets-heart-fire. Most of Zolotaryov's tattoos were hidden by clothing and the rest of the Dyatlov group members didn't know anything about them.
He died on his 38th birthday. Zolotaryov is buried on May 12, 1959, in Ivanovskoe cemetery, Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia.
On April 12, 2018 Komsomolskaya Pravda, per request of the relatives, exhumed the body of Semyon Zolotaryov at Ivanovskoe Cemetery in Yekaterinburg for the purpose of identification. The superimposition performed by expert Sergey Nikitin at the cemetery comparing the skull with a known post war photograph of Semyon Zoltaryov shows perfect match (more information).
The first DNA test results aired by Russian Channel 1 on May 16, 2018 exclude kinship of the person laying in Zolotaryov’s grave with Zolotaryov’s niece Tatyana Skulbeda, daughter of Semyon’s sister (more information).
Emotional story by Galina Sazonova, Doctor pediatrician and Dyatlov case researcher
Editorial note - this started as a matter of fact exposé but the author shows soon enough her sentiment to the characters involved and reveals her true feelings on the topic. At the moment she is maybe the person who knows best Semyon Zolotaryov background and to top that Galina is deeply emotionally bound to keep going further.
This is what is known from Tamara's daughters. It is clear that all memories can be smoothed, especially childhood memories. And it is clear that the daughters will protect their mother, even more because they are loving daughters.
Now looking at it objectively hear is what I do not understand.
Everything happened in a very small village Lermontovo, also closed to outsiders, since uranium was extracted on its territory. All those who came to work in this city, were investigated. The village was recently founded and everyone lived in barracks. Those in one long house have many rooms and one family (no matter how many people) lives in one room. All have a shared toilet, a corridor, a kitchen. There are many neighbors.
I don't understand how is it possible to explain to the neighbors where did the child go. Neighbors could not help but notice. The same goes for the Semyon's family, how could the child disappear without anybody noticing, they lived in barracks too.
At that time in the Soviet Union the children were looked ta very fondly (they were a great asset), especially in the territories that were occupied by the Germans. Maybe you do not know, but in the same village Udobnoy, where Semyon is from, there was a German hospital for which children were selected, their blood was pumped out of them and their bodies were thrown into a pit behind the hospital. In the same pit, after liberation, they found bodies and women, with bullet holes, embracing their children.
A child at that time was considered sacred.
One would wonder why is Semyon in the photos surrounded by women. Because there were no men (muzhiks). 25 million men of childbearing age perished. There was a very strong demographic bias. Women did not hope to get married, they wanted to have children at least.
Therefore, at that time, there was a government decree, on the support of single mothers financially. Perhaps this is the reason why none of Tamara's daughters had an official father and why Semyon was not put on the birth certificate. Tamara received money for this under a program that stimulates fertility. And they all lived very poorly. It is now difficult for us to imagine how poor and how difficult it was.
What am I getting at:
The most realistic option to bypass all legal and social difficulties, was to give the child to be brought up in the village to some relatives. It was allowed, because life was really hard.
But the thing is that if she gave Sasha to Semyon's mom or Semyon himself - it was impossible to live in one small village and not meet with her son. So Sasha was clearly taken from Lermontovo. And Tamara did not know where, if she was looking for him.
Now there was information from Semyon's niece, Alla Borovikovskaya, that when they were looking for him, they were told "you can't find him, he is in Germany".
I'm not very sure that there was cross-border adoption at that time, so most likely they are talking of Soviet citizens who worked or served in Germany at that time. Those who had the right to live there as families were few. There is a hope that this can be reflected in some archives in Germany - lists of diplomatic workers or military specialists.
The problem is that if Sasha was adopted at the age of one year, he could completely change his name and even his date of birth. And he may not even know about the fact that he is adopted. Although at that time it was not accepted to hide this. Too many children were adopted and this was normal.
Alla Borovikovskaya is a foster child in Zolotaryov's family herself.
Off topic. Next day after the exhumation I was alone in the cemetery. The sun was shining, although it was cold. I went to church, put a candle for Semyon, and, waiting for the car, just walked along the paths. I heard a bell ringing. Maybe I went crazy (not every day digging up graves), but suddenly I realized that I had to find Semyon's son and make him come to the grave of his father. Semyon needs this, he is asking for it. It was like a bright explosion in the brain. I will finish this and leave the topic.
There are many theories about Semyon. It so happened that no one knows about him as much as I do. He was a complicated man with a very uneasy fate, but at the same time I have a strong feeling that he was an extremely decent and good person. I can talk indefinitely about Semyon, perhaps enough is enough.
Galina Sazonova (Source →)
The discussion between Igor Dyatlov and Semyon Zolotaryov on 31 Jan 1959
Zolotariov made Lyuda uneasy: she suspected that he felt used to being in charge, and wondered if that might be a problem. The fact that the group now included one leader aged 23 and one aged 37 could cause some tension. On the day of their departure January 23, she wrote in her diary: "At first, no one wanted him in the group because he’s complete stranger, but then we got over it and he’s coming. We couldn’t just refuse to take him."
Everyone knew that the inclusion of this stranger in the group had been orchestrated by the local Communist Party Committee. Fellow student Valentin Bogomolov recalls how eager the Zolotaryov was to finish the trek as soon as possible, giving the impression he was in a big hurry to perform some other duty afterwards.
During the trek the students seem to have accepted and bonded to Zolotaryov. He knew new songs which is always impressive, and being form different generation and walk of life, Zolotaryov had knowledge about things that was interesting to the rest of the group. Zolotaryov participated but also kept his distance, he was with them for the trek, but then he knew that he will be off on his way. He didn't try to impose or correct. Not until the circumstances called for survival, and then the group split in two under the cedar tree. Igor Dytalov and Zina Kolmogorova went off in one direction, we don't know if Slobodin was conscious and if he made it to the cedar tree at all. Lyuda, Kolevatov, Thibeaux-Brignolles and Zolotaryov headed further into the ravine where most probably it was Zolotaryov's idea to dig up a den and prepare for overnight in the snow. His mobilization when being attacked and switching into a survival mode is triggered by Zolotaryov's military experience. Lyuda Dubinina who was reserved to accept him in the group now chose to go with him in the face of life threat.