Rus Articles Journal

What is “Labor army“? Archives, truth, war...

Memory of war. It comes to life in us on May 9, in day of celebration of the Great Victory and at the same time grieve over many dead those terrible four years. We try to find, learn still the remained family stories about our family who passed heartrending experiences, the dead or missing persons. “There is no family in Russia such where the hero … is not memorable“

was necessary to open for me one more little-known page in the history of that heavy war Twenty years ago. Then I studied at the Chelyabinsk university and as many students it was carefree and happy. My father asked me to learn about the cousin uncle who was in 1943 missing, but not at the front, and here in the back in Chelyabinsk once. Honestly, I was very surprised, did not believe that in the deep back, far from the front the person could be missing.

In the searches I came to a human resources department of Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant, found record that my granduncle was dismissed in the spring of 1943 from plant, and all in archives … What`s next? I learned that dismissal was often made at that time “backdating“ if the person did not appear several days at plant, even did not search for it any more. The worker of a human resources department told that possibly my granduncle served in labor army, and advised to address to archives on cemeteries where burials in the years of war were made.

In funeral bureau of cemetery ChTZ showed me on a dusty case in a corner - it is and there was an archive. In it books of registration of the dead lay. I opened year 1943. It was the second shock during my searches. We know from history that we during war in besieged Leningrad frozen or starved and diseases of people collected and buried in mass graves. Data recording about them because at the dead did not find documents was not frequent. But that in Chelyabinsk, for several thousands of kilometers from the front, in the reliable back in the book of registration for each two lines with surnames twenty records “Unknown“ were necessary?! The old turned yellow sheets and on them one after another: “unknown, unknown, unknown …“. As it appeared, both hunger, and cold, and food-cards were in military history of the Ural cities.

On it my searches at that time ended, having left a heavy deposit and the mysterious word “Trudarmiya“. Soon I left Chelyabinsk. And quite recently, searching for information on other relative, I returned to that old subject again and began to learn a terrifying story of “working columns“ of times of the Great Patriotic War.

The term “labour army“ arose earlier, in the years of civil war when the special decree declared a general labor duty and “revolutionary armies of work“ for the solution of economic tasks in a wartime are created.

In days of the Great Patriotic War the compulsory labor duty was entered again and those who carried her began to be called “trudarmeyets“. But no concept “labour army“ occurs in one official document of the period of 1941 - 1945.

The most part of these formations was made by the people who were considered unreliable on a social or national feature: Volga German, Jews, Estonians, Finns, Romanians, Hungarians, Italians. They it was used on buildings of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in various branches of a national economy. Became free labor, having filled up an extensive network of GULAG in Siberia and in the Urals. Presently descendants of those people who suffered from repressions organize the search movements and open the heavy truth about destiny of the relatives.

Noma the granduncle was a hereditary Ural Cossack and was not repressed. How it appeared in “labor army“? It turned out that also the persons liable for call-up recognized unusable to service with troops on age and a state of health were enlisted in these battalions. They had to be influenced by all burdens of “working columns“, together with others forging a victory in the Ural back too.

In days of the Great Patriotic War to Chelyabinsk about 60 industrial enterprises were evacuated. On them began to turn out military products - heavy tanks, self-propelled tools, tank motors. On every second Soviet tank there was an engine of Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. In 1941 - 45 years in Chelyabinsk 19 plants and 2 factories of allied value were constructed. Trudarmeyets were the main construction force. The labor army worked in accelerated tempo: plants became effective less than in a year, sometimes even for several months. But these achievements were paid with many lives: by the end of war from 120 thousand trudarmeyets working at South Ural slightly more than 34 thousand people survived.

I managed to find information on an old cemetery of the region of ChTZ of Chelyabinsk.

It appears on it, in mass graves of times of the Great Patriotic War according to the estimates of the Ural searchers 2235 people are buried in 1943-1945. On memoirs of old inhabitants of houses, adjacent to a cemetery, mass burials were carried out at night. Corpses brought on supplies and put in common graves on which plates therefore mass graves cannot be distinguished from others today were not established. These burials were registered as “special“. Who was buried in them? The organizations making burials registered too. Evakogospital are on the first place. In all large cities in the deep back they were created for reception of wounded, in their Chelyabinsk there were 17. And not always the fighters who died of wounds had documents.

On the second place among the organizations which were carrying out burials on this cemetery there is a Department of working columns (labor army) of Kirov Plant. The first document of reception and the device of working columns on Kirov Plant is dated on February 8, 1942. To plant there arrived 4500 trudarmeyets. While barracks with two-story plank beds were completed, lodged people at two schools. On placement and registration for work of arrived it was taken away from 2 - x to 5 days. They were provided with bedding, overalls and economic stock.

About quality of accommodation in barracks it is possible to judge at least by the fact that before winter of 1943 the order of the plant manager was given to provide department of labor columns with 50 cars of slag for adding to housing walls as a heater. But there were also other household problems - there were no warm clothes, linen, bedding, footwear. The order on creation of a workshop from 40 trudarmeyets on weaving of bast shoes is known.

One of reports addressed to the director says that the main mortality percentage at plant goes at the expense of workers of a trudarmiya. In one of columns 344 persons, patients with dystrophy were registered. From them 262 persons were not hospitalized, and continued to work. In the same column 16 fatal cases from dystrophy were recorded. Only in 1943-1945 by division it is buried on a cemetery in Traktorozavodsky district of 229 dead. These are dry reports from archives.

Unfortunately, about fighters of labor army at ChTZ plant and about destiny of the granduncle I and now yet found nothing. 20 years as I left Chelyabinsk, but I hope to return and learn more.

But even such result of my searches let me know precisely that we have to for ourselves, for children, for the future to open sad pictures of our past. To hold in remembrance our ancestors who were suffering, but brought closer the Victory in that war. To change itself, to change the world around, it is better to do it, to raise the children so that terrible lessons of history did not repeat.