Fedorovsky’s name sounded again in Norilsk in 1986
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Fedorovsky’s name sounded again in Norilsk in 1986

October 25, 2021

Nikolay Fedorovsky organized and headed the All-Union Institute of Mineral Resources (VIMS) when he was slightly over forty.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. By 1929, the founder of the complex method of mineral raw materials, from prospecting to technology development, was widely known not only in scientific circles. Fedorovsky had a brilliant biography for a Soviet scientist. The founding father of the VIMS and the Moscow Mining Academy was closely acquainted with the first leader of the world’s first socialist state. His party experience to the Lenin’s death totaled two decades, and the successor of Vladimir Ilyich – Stalin – as you know, was particularly suspicious of this generation of Bolsheviks.

The year 1937 paused Fedorovsky’s brilliant work. Not only the institutes he created, edited encyclopedias, written textbooks, fellow scientists Vernadsky, Obruchev, Fersman remained in the past. Ahead of the scientist accused of espionage (and the first to be rehabilitated) were the Vorkuta and Norilsk forced labor camps. Between them, from 1942 to 1945, the was the special department of the NKVD in Moscow. Many great prisoners labored in such departments.

The former professor and member of the USSR Academy of Sciences wrote a statement addressed to Deputy People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs Zavenyagin with a request to leave him in the special department and not send him to the northern labor camps, since for him it was a death sentence. The statement spoke not only about the health that was undermined in the Vorkuta camp, but also about two unfinished works: the artificial production of diamonds and the Fundamentals of Mineralogy processed on the basis of the latest data.

That document, like the typewritten copies of the statements to Stalin, was handed over to the Academy of Sciences’ archives by the scientist’s chief biographer Sergey Shcheglov-Norilsky. The Norilsk Museum got Fedorovsky’s colleagues, students, friends’ memoirs, collected by Sergey Shcheglov-Norilsky, numerous publications about him, the author’s manuscripts and books.

In memory of the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the outstanding mineralogist, artifacts from the 1920s remain in Norilsk. The book of professor N.M. Fedorovsky Mineral Wealth of the USSR and the Prospects for their Use in 1925 was transferred from VIMS, and Key to Minerals, published 100 years ago, was sent from Kiev. Former Norilsk resident Vladimir Yarovoy wrote that he once saw Nikola Fedorovsky in the early 1950s on the territory of the Norilsk copper plant. Perhaps at that time he was still performing his duties as an employee of the mining experimental research station laboratory.

The first Norilsk five-year plan (incomplete) of the former academician was relatively fruitful in comparison with the Vorkuta camp. At least in his seventh decade, the scientist did not immediately have to ‘hammer nails with a microscope’, as he put it in a letter to Stalin when he wanted to get involved in the uranium problem… In Norillag Fedorovsky taught a course in mineralogy at the mining and metallurgical technical school, where he lived. From that time Fedorovsky’s Mineralogical Sketches book which he read to students at lectures has been kept in the museum for 35 years. A copy of poems about minerals, dated 1952, is a gift from Larisa Kovalenko, candidate of geological and mineralogical sciences from Norilsk.

Before 1950, the convict Fedorovsky was transferred from a room in the technical school to the site of a brick factory at the disposal of the State Special-Regime Camp, or Gorlag. The scientist did not have to “hammer in nails with a microscope” for long. After a broken leg and a camp hospital, he never returned to the zone. Fedorovsky’s daughter took him from Norilsk to Moscow in a grave condition. Having never recovered from his illness, the scientist, rehabilitated and restored to the rank of Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, died in August 1956.

In 1977, a new mineral was named after Fedorovsky at the VIMS, which added to the funds of the Norilsk Museum in the year of the 100th anniversary of the scientist. Soon after thiat event, with the participation of the museum, perhaps one of the most expressive memorial plaques in the city appeared on the Norilsk Industrial Institute’s facade. There is a street named after the scientist in the ore capital of the Big Norilsk – Talnah. Three years ago, in 2018, Fedorovsky’s Mineralogical Sketches were finally published. Moreover, the publisher was the Norilsk State Industrial Institute, in the foundation of which there is a stone from the outstanding mineralogist.

Read about other unique items from local museums using the artefacts tag.

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Text: Valentina Vachayeva, Photo: Norilsk Museum

October 25, 2021

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