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They want to take away the status of the discoverers of Antarctica from the Russians 

Exactly 200 years ago, the first Russian Atlantic expedition of Bellingshausen and  Lazarev was launched, which resulted in the discovery of Antarctica. Subsequently, the feat of the Russian fleet began to diminish, including in Russia itself , and still the question of the Russian championship in finding the southern continent itself has not been resolved in our favor. But why? Who exactly wants to take away the laurels of the discoverers?
Russia’s priority in the discovery of Antarctica, the last continent in the terra nullius series, is obvious to the Russian as well as the answer to the question of who made the decisive contribution to the victory over Hitler: this is part of our cultural code, the national legendary and the education system. However, this fact does not recognize every textbook or encyclopedia published in the West. There are candidates: the French – Jules Dumont-Durvil, the British – James Clark Ross and Edward Bransfield, the Americans – Charles Wilkes and Nathaniel Palmer. It’s just like with the invention of radio – Popov and Marconi are far from being the only contenders for this status, even Indians and Belarusians have their own.
At the same time, the first Russian Atlantic expedition under the command of Thaddeus Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev, equipped specifically to confirm or deny the presence of another continent at the South Pole, ended with indisputable success. The first Antarctica was rounded by the famous James Cook  – the same one that was killed by the natives of the Hawaiian Islands (we are believed, with Vysotsky’s suggestion, that they not only killed, but also ate, although this isn’t so), but could not answer this question unequivocally. According to the opinion expressed in his diary, even if there is a continent beyond the fence of pack ice, it is impossible to reach it, and it is useless to master it. The first thesis is about impossibility – Bellingshausen and Lazarev have unequivocally refuted.
But why then their feat is challenged? There are several reasons for this.
Russian quickly harness
The mission of the sloops “Vostok” and “Mirny” was generously funded by the Emperor Alexander I, but it was very poorly organized. The problem is not that the ships mentioned were not intended to be used in such extreme conditions: this was compensated for in the “traditional” way in our Palestinians by the heroism of the Russian officers and sailors. The problem is that the expedition assembled as soon as possible – in just three and a half months. What caused such a rush, it is not known until now. According to the most common version, the highest security mode.
A good example is supplies. One of the foundations of the sea menu in those moves was “board broth” – an analogue of modern “doshyraks”. The soup was boiled down, then dried for long storage and consumed, filled with hot water. The expedition brought only one eighth of the ordered volume on board – the rest simply did not have time to dry.
Thaddeus Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev (photo: public domain, R. G. Schwede)
All this, however, has nothing to do with the question of primacy. But the composition of the team – it has. It was attended by only one representative of the scientific community – Ivan Simonov , the future rector of Kazan University. He was an astronomer, therefore, he worked mainly “by specialty”: he was engaged in calculations, spending a considerable part of his time reconciling chronometers. Descriptions in the field of naturalism (and then referred to it as geology, hydrology and glaciology – the science of ice) Simon did the residual principle. It was planned that in Europe the team would be equipped with a pair of German scientists, but again they did not have time to do it.
As a result, the team was not fully aware of what it was dealing with. What is in front of them – the usual pack ice or a glacier descending from the mainland? There was no person on board who was ready to take responsibility and explain the situation unequivocally.
On top of that, the Bellingshausen ship magazine was lost, and around his report on the expedition, published in English only in 1945, translators still break their spears. What is, for example, “ice ice”? Science does not operate with such concepts. It’s one thing if it’s the ice-covered shores of Antarctica — then the Russians were definitely the first, but you can talk about the usual pack ice that once stopped Cook.
As a result, even the Imperial Academy of Sciences did not dare to affirm the Russian championship unconditionally – for this it did not have enough scientific base. The team worked out meticulously, risking their lives, but the lack of proper on-site expertise left many questions without precise answers.
Therefore, the skepticism of some researchers about the Russian priority is justified. Separate whaling ships swam up to the shores of Antarctica to the Vostok and Mirny, but due to the complete lack of scientific opinion on their part, it is impossible to prove or disprove their primacy.
Englishwoman shits
For Britain, it was a matter of principle to open a new continent to Europeans. In the case of America, the glorified maritime superpower and the empire, over which the sun never sets, were overtaken by the Spaniards, in the case of Australia the Dutch. Only Antarctica remained, the existence of which in those years was justified unscientific: ostensibly something must balance the Earth at the South Pole, otherwise it will turn upside down.
The first to enter the Antarctic land was the aforementioned Briton Edward Bransfield. This happened in October 1819, that is, before the arrival of the “East” and “Peace”, but this is not about the continent, but about the island of King George. The Bellingshausen and Lazarev team did not land at all, but at the point where the lands of Antarctica (more precisely, Princess Marta Coast, which got its name 110 years later) were first seen with binoculars, it turned out two days earlier than Bransfield – January 28, 1820. Actually, this date is considered the day of the discovery of Antarctica. Us, but not British.
In the end, in London they decided that “to touch the coast with my eyes” is not enough – it does not give any idea about Antarctica (which, in general, is true). Therefore, the pioneer must be considered the one who first landed on the continent. The first was the crew of the Swedish whaler “Antarctic”, specifically – the Norwegian Carsten Borhgrevink. The news of this in the UK was met with ostentatious indifference, and the “championship right” was reformulated – now everyone was interested in who would get to the South Pole first.
In this case, the British again lost to the Norwegian – the famous Royal Amundsen. The crew of the British barge “Terra Nova” under the command of Robert Scott was a month late, and a group of five people who managed to reach the pole and already there to learn about Amundsen’s championship did not return back, having died heroically, and in the case of cavalry captain Lawrence Ots – through self-sacrifice.
For the British Empire, this story predictably eclipsed Amundsen’s feat, and the struggle for primacy returned to where it began – to Branswild’s priority over Bellingshausen, or to James Clark Ross’s priority: his ships Erebus and Terror sailed to Antarctica only in 1839, but explored it around the circumference and “in good conscience”, giving it an understanding of the nature of the continent, which the expedition “East” and “Peace” could not give.
With Russia will not lose
For many years, our country was almost indifferent to who and where is considered the discoverer of Antarctica, since its lands were found to be absolutely useless for development. This applies equally to the times of the empire and the USSR, where they did not even try to rename the Land of Alexander I, discovered by Bellingshausen. In this sense, even the specification of 1940 did not change anything, when it suddenly became clear that it was still an island, and not a land, that is, not the coast of the continent.
A completely different epoch came after the Second World War, when the Antarctic issue became part of the international agenda: several countries claimed (and continue to claim) the lands of Antarctica, while the United States supported neutral status. In the USSR, at the same time, a struggle was launched against “rootless cosmopolitanism” and “servitude before the West,” in which Soviet propaganda began to affirm “Russian priority” in all possible areas.
So, what was recently considered “great-power chauvinism” and “bourgeois nationalism” became state policy. It was she who praised Popov as the inventor of the radio, Lomonosov as the discoverer of the law of conservation of mass (he himself did not claim this) and Bellingshausen as the discoverer of Antarctica.
The people of that period is known for the satirical phrase “Russia is the birthplace of elephants.” In some cases, claims to Russian priority were quite fair (the same Popov with Bellingshausen, as well as, for example, the invention of the tram), in others – frankly comical, like the stories of “the first aeronaut – the scribe Kryakutnogo” or “the inventor of the bicycle – the peasant Artamonov” .
But by that time, the question of primacy in the discovery of Antarctica had already ceased to concern the baptized world. The role of Bellingshausen and Lazarev as pioneers and discoverers of a number of islands, as well as their contribution to the study of terra incognita, despite the problem with the scientists in the crew, in general, is not disputed: they had a lot of work, worked hard, and who was the first to see white with binoculars continent – no matter, since in terms of studying it, this did little.
Now the question of the Russian championship is not even political, as in the 1920s or 1940s, but purely patriotic. But that is why it is still significant. And if someone from foreigners asks who exactly discovered Antarctica, 146 million votes will be answered – Bellingshausen and Lazarev. In order to think so, we have not only actual grounds, but also a defining sense of duty to the feat of great compatriots.

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