Sharashka (also sharzhka, sharaga, “sharashkin office”) was the colloquial name of the scientific research institute and closed-type design bureau subordinated to the NKVD / MVD of the USSR where convicted scientists, engineers and technicians worked. In the NKVD system they were called “special technical bureaus” (OTB), “special design bureaus” (OKB), and similar abbreviations with numbers.
Etymologically, the word sharashka is derived from a Russian slang expression sharashkina kontora ("Sharashka's office", which in its turn comes from the criminal argot term sharaga for a band of thieves, hoodlums, etc.), an ironic, derogatory term to denote a poorly organized, impromptu, or bluffing organization. In the USSR, the use of labor of prisoners began by order of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR dated 07.7.1929, according to which all persons convicted for a term of St. 3 years, were subject to the direction of the camp of the OGPU for labor use. The design bureaus were created by the decision of the Collegium of the OGPU of the USSR, authorized representatives of the OGPU in the regions to which they submitted. The first OKB were formed in 1929 in Moscow from among the specialists of aviation convicted in the industrial party case. It is known that as early as 1929 in Butyrskaya Prison there existed BT VT - Design Bureau “Inner Prison” - headed by Polikarpov and Grigorovich, then transferred to the territory of the Khodynka airfield and named TsKB-39-OGPU.
In 1930 on Leningrad. metal The plant was formed by OKTB for technical. guidance designer of artillery A. G. Dukelsky, in the summer of 1931 in Moscow, the KB was established in the powder industry under technical leadership of A. S. Bakaev and others. There was no single center that coordinated the activities of these bureaus. As a rule, the work was carried out by a consultant (chief engineer) under the head of the bureau. Developed projects were submitted for approval in technical. Council, which included both convicts and civilian specialists, as well as employees of the OGPU. The rest of the structure of each organization was developed in relation to the specific conditions of its activities. In 1934, all the bureau at the OGPU USSR were disbanded.
Beria convinced Stalin of the advisability of using arrested and convicted military industry specialists for their professional purpose in special design bureaus and research institutes. Beria did not invent anything new. In the Moscow suburban village Bolshevo, in 1938–1939, in a special concentration camp, on the order of L.P. Beria, convicts were brought from all prisons and camps. Among them: the designer of the heavy artillery of the Russian fleet, the former colonel of the tsarist army, E.A. Berkalov, the author of the “Berkalov formula”, according to which guns were calculated throughout the world; pilot and aircraft designer, member of the Italian Communist Party, Robert Bartini; Lead Aviation Arms Specialist A.V. Nadashkevich; AS Ivanov, leading technologist of the aviation industry, submarine designer Kassatser; former deputy head of TsAGI correspondent member USSR Academy of Sciences A.I.Nekrasov; future designers of space rockets S.P.Korolev and V.P.Glushko, etc.
From Bolshevo, the defense conspirators were sent to settling (in accordance with the requirements of the convoy regime and guards) design and research organizations of the NKVD. Among them are repeatedly described in the literature “Sharaga Tupolev”, the official name of which is TsKB-29-NKVD. In the “Sharaga Tupolev”, of course, new designs of aircraft were created (including one of the world's best front-line Tu-2 and Pe-2 bombers).
In the OTB of the NKVD (the future of NII-6-NKVD), new samples of ammunition and advanced technologies of military chemical production were created. On March 3, 1940, L.P. Beria appealed to the Council of Economy Council of the USSR Council of Ministers with proposals for the development of weapons equipment in industrial production. The note reported: “A group of those arrested under the direction of the arrested S.I. Lukashov (a former employee of the Artillery Directorate of NGOs) developed 45 mm armor-piercing incendiary projectile and two incendiary air bombs. The group of the arrested Ryabov (a former employee of the Artillery Directorate of the NKO) developed a charge design that allows for a flameless and smokeless artillery shot. They also developed a special powder charge for the B-30 armor-piercing bullet. The group under the direction of Fishman’s s / c (former head of the NPO Chemical Department) developed a new gas mask, the protective capacity of which is twice the power of the adopted MT-4 gas mask. A group of prisoners under the leadership of Stupnikov (former chief engineer of NCPC) has developed a new technology for the production of sulfuric acid, which allows increasing the productivity of existing sulfuric acid plants three times ”.
Organizational groups were built according to the brigade principle, projects were developed by Dep. teams headed by prominent convicted specialists. The brigade carried out the full scope of work, from the conceptual design to the introduction of development into serial production. It was envisaged to recruit freelance specialists to work in the OTB groups - young promising scientists and employees who performed those jobs that, under the terms of the regime, could not be entrusted to prisoners.
Zeki defense workers, many of whom were under arrest due to false denunciations or testimonies stamped under torture, could not help but think about the advisability of carrying out their professional duties at liberty. On this occasion, between Tupolev and Beria, once, the next dialogue from the category of “black humor” took place:
BERIA: Let's agree, Andrei Nikolayevich, the plane is in the air, and all of you are home!
TUPOLEV: Do you think you can make planes while at home?
BERIA: You can! It is possible, but dangerous. You have no idea what traffic is on the streets, the bus can crush ...
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