May 10, 2021
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War: Kuibyshev (Samara) 1941-1945

The city of Kuibyshev (now Samara) was the center of the eponymous Kuibyshev region. Then this region was much larger than it is now, since it included the Ulyanovsk region (which was formed on January 19, 1943). The city bore this name from 1935 to 1991. It was named after a Soviet party and statesman Valerian Vladimirovich Kuibysheva

More than 380 thousand people left the Kuibyshev region for the front during the Great Patriotic War.

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of Samara State Social and Pedagogical University talks about the city of Kuibyshev as a reserve capital of the Soviet Union Alexander Ivanovich Repinetsky. During the war, Kuibyshev received evacuated industrial enterprises and sent military units to the front. City life changed dramatically in mid-October. Then a very serious situation developed on the fronts. The enemy was striving for Moscow. October divided the life of the city into two parts: an ordinary regional rear city and a spare capital. On October 15, 1941, the State Defense Committee adopts a Decree on the evacuation of the capital of the USSR. This decree spoke of the immediate evacuation of the embassies and government to the city of Kuibyshev.

The formation of self-defense units. Kuibyshev. 1942

Thus, the city authorities had a maximum of three days to accommodate the evacuees. And this task was completed. The first echelons with the evacuees arrived in Kuibyshev on October 18. The city simultaneously worked for the front and carried out administrative functions.

Kuibyshev became the reserve capital of the Soviet Union. It was from this city that the management of the rear regions of the country was carried out. A part of the Central Committee of the AUCPB, part of the apparatus of the Council of People’s Commissars was evacuated here.

Among the reasons why Kuibyshev was chosen as the reserve capital are the following:

  • the Volga River was supposed to become a natural obstacle in the way of the Nazis;
  • Kuibyshev was located in the center of transport routes that went to the Urals, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Siberia;
  • Although Kuibyshev was a rear city, the plane could deliver the leadership to Moscow or to the front within one hour;
  • Stalin did not want to leave the European part of the country for the Urals.

On October 20, 1941, it was decided to build the Kuibyshevsky defensive wall. It was supposed to pass along the right bank of the Volga on the territory of two regions, Kuibyshev and Penza, and represent a powerful barrier for Nazi tanks. It was five meters deep and three meters wide. It was built by collective farmers in these regions and citizens evacuated to these regions. About 340 thousand people were sent to these works. It was a labor feat of the people. People worked 12 hours a day. This construction was not completed. After the enemy was defeated near Moscow, the construction site was mothballed.

Aircraft building plant in Kuibyshev

Leading aircraft manufacturing plants were moved to Kuibyshev in 1941

Aircraft production at plant number 1 in Kuibyshev. 1942 year

Production of Il-2 attack aircraft at one of the aircraft factories in Kuibyshev, where about 40 aircraft industry enterprises were evacuated

Since the evacuation order stated that comrade Stalin will arrive in Kuibyshev later, the construction of a bunker has begun in the city – a shelter for the leader of the party and state. It was built under the building of the regional party committee in the center of the city on the Chapaev square. The bunker went down nine stories. He could withstand the impact of a two-ton high-explosive bomb. More or less “comfortably” 115 people could be accommodated in the bunker. The maximum loading of the bunker is 600 people. The bunker could hold out completely autonomously for five days. This is the deepest and most powerful structure for the leaders of the countries involved in the war.

The builders faced very difficult tasks:

  • Secrecy of construction. It is still not clear how the excavation took place. According to modern estimates, it took 7.5 thousand truck trips to remove the soil. And no one should have noticed these flights. This is one of the mysteries of bunker construction.
  • It was necessary to build a bunker that would be invulnerable to Nazi aviation.
  • This is a very limited area under the building of the regional party committee.

The bunker was both a labor feat of the people (workers worked 12 hours a day continuously) and a feat of scientific thought, since its project was developed in a very short time. As a result, the bunker was put into operation on January 6, 1942. At the moment, there is no reliable information that Stalin went down to this bunker, visited it.

Kuibyshev also becomes the diplomatic capital. It houses 23 embassies and military missions. Naturally, all major agreements and documents were signed in Moscow, where Stalin was. But all the preparatory work was carried out in Kuibyshev.

Kuibyshev served as a reserve capital from October 15, 1941 to the end of August 1943, when the last Japanese embassy left the city.

The city also played the role of an information capital. The editorial offices of the central newspapers, Pravda, Izvestia, moved to Kuibyshev. It also publishes “Bulletin of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR” in 16 languages. A powerful radio transmission center is being built near Kuibyshev. This center begins to work at full capacity by the beginning of 1943. The center could broadcast its programs to all of Europe, Asia and North Africa. Therefore, from this period, the dominance of German propaganda ceased to exist, because this center blocked the fascist broadcasts.

According to unconfirmed reports, from this center broadcast Yuri Levitan There are memories that famous words “Attention! Moscow is speaking. From the Soviet Information Bureau! “ were pronounced from this center. But this information requires additional research and document searches.

The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, TASS, also moved to Kuibyshev. It is here that TASS Windows are published. This satire, which was directed against the enemy, was very much needed by the Soviet people, it helped them to withstand, cheered up and inspired confidence that the enemy would be defeated.

In addition, representatives of world publishing houses were located in the city.

On November 7, 1941, a military parade was held in Kuibyshev. By Stalin’s decision, parades were to be held in Moscow, Kuibyshev and Voronezh. The central parade took place in Moscow. Stalin spoke at it. The parade inspired the Soviet people to fight fascism. It was broadcast throughout the country. But if for some reason the broadcast did not take place, then the broadcast would take place from Kuibyshev.

Foreign journalists and heads of diplomatic missions attended the parade in Kuibyshev. 1941

The parade in Kuibyshev prepared Voroshilov… The parade has several features that make it unique in the history of the Great Patriotic War. According to some historians, this parade can be equated with a large successful military operation. The military parade was attended by 22,007 people who marched through Kuibyshev Square.

  • It was the longest parade: military equipment marched across the square for 1.5 hours.
  • This was the only parade during the Great Patriotic War in which aviation took part.
  • After the parade, a demonstration of workers took place.

Military parade in Kuibyshev in November 1941

The parade was attended by units from the Far East, Transbaikalia, which were sent to the front. They were eager to fight, but were stopped in Kuibyshev for a parade procession. The parade was attended by 232 aircraft. They flew over Kuibyshev Square several times, which gave the impression that the Soviet Union had powerful aviation. It is noted that at that time the fascist propaganda shouted that the Soviet Union had no aviation at all and that all the planes were allegedly destroyed during the Nazi offensive. All military attachés of the embassies, heads of military missions and foreign journalists who were in Kuibyshev took part in the parade. They made sure that the Red Army is still strong and has aviation. Then Voroshilov wrote to Stalin that the parade made a very impressive impression.

Military parade in Kuibyshev on November 7, 1941. Marshal Kliment Voroshilov takes the parade

Every year on November 7, a memory parade is held in the city (now Samara), in which both veterans and military personnel and military equipment take part.

The State Bolshoi Theater is evacuated to Kuibyshev. Writers come here. The city is also becoming a cultural capital. The first performance of the famous Seventh Symphony took place in Kuibyshev Dmitry Dmitrievich Shostakovich, which he began to write in Leningrad, and completed it in Kuibyshev.

Military parade in Kuibyshev in November 1941

On March 5, 1942, this symphony was performed in the building of the Kuibyshev Opera House. Russian and Soviet writer Alexey Tolstoy wrote that Shostakovich was able to snuggle a sensitive ear to the heart of Russia and wrote a hymn for the celebration, a hymn that instilled confidence in victory.

More than 40 large industrial enterprises were evacuated to Kuibyshev together with workers and engineers. According to incomplete estimates, about 300 thousand people arrived in the city during the summer and autumn months of 1941. In fact, the city has doubled.

According to the materials of the library of the Samara National Research University named after S. P. Koroleva, a powerful air base is being created in the city. In a little over a year, giant factory buildings were built here, equipped with thousands of machine tools, which were transferred from the front-line zone.

Turning production at plant No. 24. Kuibyshev. 1943

In 1941 alone, two aircraft factories were built in the city, evacuated from Moscow and Voronezh, an engine building plant evacuated from Moscow, factories for the production of weapons for aircraft, components for aviation, an airfield, the first stage of the Bezymyanskaya CHPP, the Kuibyshevskaya CHPP, the village for the living of workers with a living area of ​​160 thousand square meters. meters, a plant for the production of armored hulls for aircraft and tanks, a TASS radio station, Stalin’s bunker, the first stage of the Oxygen Plant has been completed, the construction of a powerful underground radio station has begun. In total, about a million square meters of industrial and residential premises have been erected.

The city began to produce the legendary IL-2 attack aircraft, which the Nazis called the “black death”. During the war years, 32 thousand of these combat aircraft were produced in Kuibyshev. In total, 38 thousand of these aircraft were manufactured at the factories of the country. In addition, the plant produced about five thousand more powerful Il-10 attack aircraft. Its prototype was created in April 1944, and was tested in June. In October of the same year, new attack aircraft began to arrive at the front.

Aircraft built in Kuibyshev

The Nazis failed to create such attack aircraft as the Il-2 plane. He was the best aircraft in this class.

Kotlyarevsky K. M., the pilot of the 228th assault aviation regiment, who flew to the Il-2, then noted: “… During the war, I do not remember a case of failure in the air of the engine or system of the Il-2 aircraft”

Within a short time, the city became the largest industrial and defense center of the Soviet Union and made a significant contribution to the overall victory over fascism.

July 2, 2020 by decree of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin Samara, among the 20 cities of the country, was awarded the honorary title of the Russian Federation “City of Labor Valor” for the significant contribution of city residents to the achievement of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, ensuring uninterrupted production of military and civilian products at industrial enterprises, demonstrating massive labor heroism and dedication.

Oksana Khmurov

Cover photo: shooting classes on Kuibyshev square. 1942

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