The first history chronicle of the Norilsk combine was written 75 years ago. For six decades, the four-volume typewritten text has been kept in the Norilsk Museum.
On the title page of the first volume with the contents of the History… there are two pencil signatures. On July 25, 1945, it was approved in red pencil by the head of the Norilsk combine, state security commissioner Alexander Panyukov, and the head of the political department, major Kozlovsky, put his signature in blue.
The authors of the chronicle, Anatoly Shevelev and Vladimir Frolov, traced the history of Norilsk from Mangazeya and the merchants Sotnikovs with their copper smelter in 1868 to “looking into the future”. The final chapter dealt with the prospects for the development of the plant in the 1940s – 50s, the construction of the sea port in Dudinka and the Stalin Museum in Kureyka.
In the “History of the Norilsk Combine” the journalists presented the “biographies” of all enterprises under construction, for which they were provided with the necessary materials on demand. According to the memoirs of a contemporary of the authors Sergei Shcheglov (Norilskiy), the repressed journalist Anatoly Shevelev, who had arrived in Norillag from Solovki, submitted the idea of the book to the management. The “Japanese spy” was rehabilitated in 1941, but remained in Norilsk due to the ban on leaving the territory during the war. He worked for the newspaper For Metal.
His colleague, the exiled journalist Yevgeny Ryabchikov, in April 1944 in Krasnoyarsky Rabochy published an essay entitled The Day of Norilsk – the Day of the Combine, which also mentioned Shevelev’s work on the History of the Norilsk Combine: “Evening. The printing house is preparing for printing the next issue of the newspaper For Metal. Editor V. A. Gerashchenko is reading the pages. Anatoly Shevelev begins a new chapter in the History of Norilsk. Days and nights of the courageous struggle for the fulfillment of the assignment are imprinted on the pages of the northern chronicle”.
Vladimir Frolov was sent to help Shevelev by the politics department. Frolov led a literary circle at the trade union library and appeared in Norilsk in 1941 as a civilian. He published patriotic poems in local newspapers For Metal and Dudin’s Sovetskiy Taimyr.
Everything that Vladimir Frolov wrote, as well as the main author, was an ode to “the selfless labor of heroes mining coal and ore, smelting metal, laying steel highways through the wilds”. The History of the Norilsk Combine is kept in the same style. Factography was and remains its merit, albeit without taking into account the realities of the camp. In addition, Shevelev and Frolov were the first to use the chronological survey as an application in their work. Subsequently, the format of the History… served the Norilsk chroniclers well.
The History of the Norilsk Combine by Anatoly Shevelev and Vladimir Frolov was not published, except for the publication of excerpts in the newspaper For Metal and the Bulletin of the cultural and educational camp. It can be assumed that Avraamy Zavenyagin, whose introductory article (with a portrait) was supposed to precede the publication, preferred the documentary narration Northern Lights by his longtime acquaintance Yevgeny Ryabchikov to it.
Undoubtedly, Ryabchikov used his colleague’s record when working on the script for the first documentary about Norilsk The Giant of the Arctic and the Northern Lights, written in parallel. The book by Evgeny Ryabchikov was published in 1946 by the Glavsevmorput publishing house with a circulation of 15 thousand copies. The History… was first handed over to the archives, and in 1960 it became a museum artefact.
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Text: Valentina Vachaeva, Photo: Norilsk Museum