| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| Hitler's War;|
The Big Switch†
|Date of Birth:||c. 1910|
|Date of Death:||1940|
|Cause of Death:||Long fall|
|Affiliations:||Red Air Force|
Yaroslavsky had flown as a 'volunteer' aboard an SB-2 aiding the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. When the wider European war erupted, Yaroslavsky and his crewmates - Armenian co-pilot Anastas Mouradian and foul-mouthed bombardier Ivan Kuchkov - initially served in the same capacity against German forces invading Czechoslovakia in 1938. After Czechoslovakia fell, Yaroslavsky and his squadron had a brief respite from the war, as they had no way of attacking Germany directly.
In 1939, the Soviet Union began a limited war in north-eastern Poland over the city of Wilno. Yaroslavsky was transferred to that front and as the brushfire war escalated into a full-blown conflict with Germany he found himself supporting the Red Army advance on Warsaw.
While a devoted Communist, Yaroslavsky was aware of the purges initiated by Joseph Stalin in the years leading up to the war. He was also aware of the inconsistencies that riddled Soviet propaganda, especially as he saw first-hand how the Soviet war effort fared against the more effective Germans. Nonetheless, Yaroslavsky was wise enough to keep his thoughts to himself, and feared that his friend Mouradian was incapable of doing the same.
Early in 1940 Mouradian was transferred to Siberia, where the Siege of Vladivostok was going poorly for the Soviet Union. Yaroslavsky felt that his replacement, a fellow Russian named Vladimir Federov, was competent, if not as outstanding as Mouradian.
After the Big Switch in 1940, and during the invasion of the Soviet Union by German, Polish, French, and British troops, Yaroslavsky's squadron was relegated to making night raids as the SB-2 had become too outdated for front-line service. During one such raid on a massive German ammunition stockpile near Smolensk, Yaroslavsky's bomber was shot down. His parachute caught on fire as he exited the flaming plane, and he fell to his death.