#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In 1938, Avraamy Zavenyagin, the new head of the Norilsk combine, took office. He was sure it was possible to carry out a full cycle of nickel smelting in Norilsk. To prove that he had to bring to Moscow a tangible result of the work – a sample of pure metal.
For the purpose, before the launch of the Large Metallurgical Plant, an experimental metallurgical workshop was organized.
On June 5, 1938, the workshop went into operation – an experimental converter was launched, it was necessary to test all the technologies on it and give the first batches of metal to the country.
Zavenyagin chose the experimental metallurgical shop head from four candidates: three men and one woman. The choice fell on 28-year-old Olga Lukashevich.
Zavenyagin was not mistaken: Olga set up a pilot production and a few months later brought him the first ingot of Norilsk nickel – it was a cigarette case size.
“All Norilsk nickel fits in a woman’s pocket”, according to the Norilsk legend, Zavenyagin allegedly joked.
As Olga Lukashevich later recalled, the most difficult thing at first was the personnel recruitment:
“The conditions of the camp were, of course, completely unfamiliar to me. How to work with such personnel? Zavenyagin said: “Personnel? For common labor – choose workers from criminals, but not all law sections are suitable. For engineering positions – select yourself, from any camp departments, this is the 58th section. You have two weeks to do this. I see what’s bothering you. My advice: forget that they are prisoners, enemies, and so on. You need knowledgeable people, smart, experienced, so choose, but how to make them think and work well and quickly – figure it out yourself, camp recipes will not work. And do not be shy, be bolder, I believe in you”.
In the last issue of the History Spot photo project we told about the fact that Norilsk coat of arms personified the power of high latitudes and the key to the riches of the Arctic.
Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive