The Dying Remorse Of Mikhail Kalashnikov

Kalashnikov died on December 23, aged 94 and knowing that his invention will carry his name through time forever. It is a genuinely good piece of military weaponry and does its job just as it should, fulfilling all its functions, being easy to use and remake – some of the reasons why Mikhail Kalashnikov never made too much money out of it.

We will never know how many people this weapon has killed but you could easily name places and times the AK-47 was the most popular death instrument: from Mexico and all its drug scenes, to Syria, Africa and Middle East. With over one million pieces sold, we could estimate that tens of millions of people died thanks to Kalashnikov’s invention.

During his life, Mr Kalashnikov insisted that he shouldn’t be the one to blame for the death of millions of people, as he was only the designer of the weapon he built to protect his own country. He continued saying that the police of those countries who accepted to use the armaments were the ones to blame.

It has now been revealed that apparently, Mr Kalashnikov started feeling guilty towards the end of his life. The first time he entered the church was when he was 91 and the reason he went there was to get himself baptized. He admitted being in ‘spiritual pain’ because of the number of people who were killed by his invention, The New Zealand Herald reports.

In May 2012, Kalashnikov wrote a letter addressed to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, saying that the ‘spiritual pain is unbearable’ and that he didn’t understand whether he was responsible for the killing of so many millions of people as the creator of the rifle. “The longer I live the more this question drills itself into my brain,” he wrote.

But Kalashnikov was not the only man tortured by the ghosts of war. It also happened to Robert Oppenheimer, one of the scientists who helped build up the atomic bomb. After the Trinity test explosion from 1945, in Mexico, Oppenheimer admitted on occurring to him some lines from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy book, which reads: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Also listed on the Inventors of weapons’ roll of honor are the names of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish genius who in 1867 invented the dynamite; Polish scientist, Sir Joseph Rotblat, who worked with Robert Oppenheimer on nuclear weapons; inventor of the seed drills, Richard Gatling and developer of  ‘weapons grade’ pepper spray Kamran Loghman.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE