In early 1930s country government decided Norilsk fate

In early 1930s country government decided Norilsk fate

May 04, 2023

In the early 1930s, the government of the Soviet Union was deciding who had the power to carry out the construction of Norilsk, and whether the game was worth the candle.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. For example, history has preserved a memorandum, which in 1933 was submitted to Stalin by the people’s commissar of heavy industry, Sergo Ordzhonikidze (in the main photo above). It was called On the Norilsk Copper-Nickel-Cobalt Deposit.

The message stated that the total ore reserves at that time were ‘66 million tons, of which 13 million tons are suitable for open-pit mining and 53 million tons are suitable for underground mining’.

The gross value of metals in the ores of the deposit at prices in gold per Soviet ruble was estimated at 951 billion 709 million 14 thousand rubles. Everything indicated that the Norilsk field was one of the richest in the USSR.

However, the development of the Norilsk field was associated with enormous difficulties. Only two months during the year were considered relatively favorable. It was necessary to build a railway or a highway for communication with Dudinka, depending on the size of the cargo turnover.

In the same message, it was proposed to give Norilsk under the authority of the State Political Administration (OGPU) – the predecessor of the NKVD. That is, to build it with the hands of prisoners:

“Taking into account the special difficulties in conducting survey work, carrying out construction and mastering production, as well as the colossal experience of the OGPU in carrying out the most complex constructions in extremely difficult conditions, the Narkomtyazhprom considers it expedient to entrust the organization of work and enterprises to the OGPU on the basis of a special camp”.

The proposal was accepted, but not immediately. In 1934, Norilskstroy was subordinated to the management of the Northern Sea Route, and in 1935 a decree was issued on the creation of the Norillag forced labor camp and the transfer of the construction site to the NKVD.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told about the first hairdressing salons in Norilsk.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

May 04, 2023

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