At the highest point of the Great Patriotic War, the House of Engineering and Technical Workers (DITR) – the most beautiful building of the 1940s – was opened in Norilsk. An incredible cultural event for such a difficult and sad time in the history of the city. The beautiful palace lived like a separate life and gave optimism to its visitors. Not without incidents.
The beginning of the DITR construction in the city in 1942 was an event in itself. The first years of the war demanded inhuman forces and resources from the Soviet people to resist the fascists. Metal was produced in Norilsk, workshops and factories were built in record time. The workloads of the Norillag prisoners and civilian residents were not much different. And during that period, the director of the Norilsk combine gave an order to build the DITR.
“So in the midst of the war, in a sad atmosphere of defeat at the fronts, a multifunctional cultural, entertainment and agitation and propaganda center appeared in Norilsk, which became a legend of the local architecture and has survived to this day”, said Stanislav Stryuchkov, head of the Taimyr Explorers Club. – It was built on the only rocky base in the district that was free from factory needs. And at the intersection of Oktyabrskaya and Zavodskaya streets, prestigious in those years”.
The new facility was intended to support the spirit of people who worked hard and, as they say now, became the center of attraction for citizens of different ages. The place where all the most important technical innovations of that time, cultural news, important and interesting events were concentrated.
In addition to a concert and dance hall, a chess and billiard room, a library and premises for exhibitions, there was also a catering establishment in the House of Engineering and Technical Workers.
The dining room was located at the end of the building and was very popular with the townspeople for a long time. At the climax of the war and all kinds of hardships, it was there that one could taste the famous Norilsk coniferous kvass. Tanks with this drink were delivered from the Vitaminka plant, which was located on Lake Lama. Thanks to such a find, many inhabitants of the Arctic in those years escaped from scurvy and maintained immunity.
Bread, salt and mustard were always served free of charge in the dining room, and this was a real help to some of the visitors.
It is interesting that in the wardrobe of the dining room, instead of cloak-room tickets, the Norilsk residents were given… spoons. They say that this was done so that visitors could not take the cutlery that was in short supply at that time with them. At the end of the meal, the visitor returned the spoon and got his clothes back.
Years later the DITR was renamed the House of Miners, and a cafe called “Ugolyok” (“coal”) was opened on the site of the canteen.
Today, there are different offices in the building of the House of Engineering and Technical Workers, and we can say that it was lucky: unlike some other modern buildings, the object still exists. It is restored when there is a need and its appearance still reminds people of the significance of the first Norilsk palace for the townspeople.
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Text: Yulia Gubeladze, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko and open sources