Soviet aviator Major Nikolai Ivanovich Polagushin (1923-1999) in a portrait shot right after the end of the war. Drafted in June 1941, Polagushin graduated from the Aviation School and joined the front in July 1942. He fought continuously through the rest of the war, completed 259 combat missions, and was named Hero of the Soviet Union.
24 July 1944 - Majdanek Concentration Camp is liberated by Soviet forces, the first among many. The Soviet Union is now in control of several large cities in Poland, including Lublin - The crematorium at Majdanek concentration camp, Lublin, Nazi-occupied Poland where 360,000 victims died. Unlike other similar camps in Poland, Majdanek was not located in a remote rural location away from population centers, but within the boundaries of a major city.