Konstantin Simonov (Russian: Константин Михайлович Симонов; 28 November [O.S. 15 November] 1915 in Petrograd – August 28, 1979 in Moscow) was a Soviet/Russian author. His full name was Konstantin (born Kirill) Mikhailovich Simonov. He was a well-known war poet who wrote a popular poem called “Wait for me”, about a soldier in the war asking his beloved to wait for his return. The poem was addressed to his wife, the actress Valentina Serova. It was immensely popular at the time and remains one of the best-known poems in the Russian language. Simonov wrote many more poems to Valentina, subsequently included in the collection With you and without you. (full text).
Konstantin Simonov – Russian Federation
Born in 1915 into a military family Konstantin Simonov studied at the Literary Institute in Moscow and began his career as a poet. From the very start Simonov established himself as a poet writing about wars. He is the author of historical poems called “Suvorov” and “Battle on a Frozen Lake” about the heroism of Russian people and poems about international brigades that came to the rescue of Spanish Republicans. As a journalist, Simonov travels to the battle fields during a military conflict with the Japanese army. And as a war correspondent, he writes notes in verse and reports. The idea of a looming big war is central in his poems, his play “A guy from our city”, after which one of the best post-war films was made. (full text).
Newspaper clips with Simonov’s poems were found in the pockets of those killed in action. Soldiers often got the poems in letters from home and read them before going into battle. Like volunteers, the poems made their way into the army ranks: “It seemed to us in those days, the wartime writer and Hero of the Soviet Union Vladimir Karpov says, that we all knew Simonov personally – such was the extent to which his verse found a response in our hearts, such was his knowledge of the front life. That’s why his poems for us were inseparable from our Motherland, our home and family. In his works the deep patriotic feelings of the day found expression in simple, soothing words. In fact, that was what we were fighting for”. (full text).
Deported from his Siberian village, Aleksei Okorokov walked 900 kilometres home. When he arrived, the peasant smallholder found his wife, two young daughters and parents had been expelled to a settlement 800 kilometres away. Aleksei set off again. Reunited, the family escaped. They trudged for 10 nights until they collapsed from exhaustion and were rounded up by a patrol. Once more Aleksei, his wife and children fled. After days of travelling, they met a tribe willing to help them … if they agreed to leave behind nine-year-old Tamara. Aleksei did so but stole Tamara back. When the Okorokovs were transported to another camp, Aleksei bolted with his daughters. Amazingly, his wife joined them by leaping on to a train passing near where she was labouring. Repeatedly re-arrested, Aleksei kept escaping. His desperate wife almost died after giving herself an abortion. But in 1934, by chance, the family ended up together as penal labourers at a metal works. It was here that Aleksei’s traumatised daughters “learned to whisper rather than to talk”. (full text).
His early years: He was born in Petrograd. His mother was born Princess Obolenskaya, of a Rurikid family. His father, an officer in the Tsar’s army, was killed in the War and he was brought up by his step-father, who after being gassed in the War had become an instructor in a military school. His childhood years were passed in Ryazan and Saratov. After completing his basic seven-year education in 1930 in Saratov, he went into the factory workshop school to learn to be a turner. In 1931, his family moved to Moscow, and Simonov, after completing the course in the factory workshop school of precision engineering, went to work in a factory, where he worked until 1935. During these same years he began to write poems. In 1936 in the journals Young Guard and October the first of K. Simonov’s poems were published. After completing a course at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in 1938, Simonov entered a graduate course at the Moscow Institute of History, Philosophy, and Literature (IFLI), but he was sent as a war correspondent to the Khalkhin Gol campaign in Mongolia and didn’t return to the institute until 1939. (full text).
His poems in Turkish language.
His presence in IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.
His picture of May 1966 in a collection of photoraphs by Sara and Eli Ross (scroll much down).
Life Under A Tyrant’s Thumb, by MARTHA MERCER, November 21, 2007;
A page devoted to postcards and photographs of the Soviet passenger ship Konstantin Simonov;
Behind Closed Doors, a book by Orlando Figes pulls back the curtain on the personal lives of Soviet citizens under Stalin’s regime, By Ronald Grigor Suny, published: November 16, 2007;
Stalin: the man and the era, by Megan Dixon of Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2007;
What the Russian papers say, by Vedomosti, Nov. 06, 2007;
Henry Hollander, Boookseller.