Great Terror of 1937-38 - Tank Industry
The Great Terror of 1937-38, organized in the country by the ruling elite, affected all branches of the Soviet economy. At enterprises and organizations, they arrested "pests" and "enemies of the people" en masse; the defense industry did not escape this fate. The archives preserved a lot of documents testifying to the extent of the destruction of engineering and technical personnel.
At the Kharkov Tank Plant No. 183, responsible for launching the release of BT high-speed tanks on an unprecedented scale, there were arrests and execution (Article 58, points 6, 7, 8 and 11 — espionage, undermining the economy, terror, membership in an anti-Soviet organization). Victims included Bondarenko, chief engineer F.I. Lyash, Chief Metallurgist A.M. Metantsev and the head of the tank design bureau A.O. Firsov. The NKVD authorities arrested the creators of the prototype tank T-34 (A-34) N.F. Tsyganov and A.Ya. Dick. The position of chief designer became deadly - for any mistake and failure he was threatened with jail or execution. It is possible that the next chief designer, Mikhail I. Koshkin, avoided repression only because of his death from pneumonia.
Among the documents of the epoch is a memorandum of the NKVD "On design defects and the delay in the production of the production of new A-34 tanks at plant 183 in Kharkov." - “When designing the A-34 tank, under the guidance of the chief designer of plant 183, Ing. Koshkin, a number of defects were revealed that affect the fighting qualities of the vehicle ... Koshkin and his deputy, Morozov, instead of working towards creating a structure with a hatch and side view, raised the question: either with a hatch without a view, or a side view, but without a hatch ... Koshkin, instead of taking into account these comments and instructing the experienced designer-builder to do the project without the indicated defects, ordered to urgently detail the driver's booth according to the project of the designer Baron. Pointing to the drawbacks of the construction of the booth, the engineer Tarshinov himself proposed to develop the project last, but was sent by Koshkin on a business trip to the mountains of Mariupol, although there was no need for him to go ... To cover up the waste of funds, Deputy Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR Gorlinsky 'February 7, 1940 551 / d GDA SS Ukraine. Typewriting, F. 16. - Op. 33 (1951). - Ref. 90. - Ark. 213-217. Copy.
A large group of “pests” was vigilantly identified and arrested at plant No. 37, among them the head of the design bureau N.N. Kozyrev and his deputy A.A. Astrov. At the end of 1937, the Kharkiv "organs" established that the KhPZ diesel department was the nest of "pests". K.F. Chelpan and his staff - MB Levitan, Z.B. Gurtovoy, GI Aptekman were shot for “intentionally creating defects”. I.Ya. Trashutin and Yu.A. Stepanov received ten years in correctional camps. Finishing the tank diesel engine, which received the B-2 index, was delayed for another two years, and the engine was transferred to mass production only on September 1, 1939.
At the Kirov Plant in Leningrad, before the war engaged in heavy tanks, they also fought with “pests”: the Chief Engineer M.L. Ter-Asaturov, Sr. engineer MP Siegel, head of SKB-2, OM Ivanov, and plant manager KM Ots preferred suicide to arrest.
Alexander Aleksandrovich Porokhovshchikov, the "father" of the first in the history of Russia caterpillar armored car (1914) and the grandfather of the popular film actor Alexander Shalvovich Porokhovshchikov, was arrested two times under Soviet power. A.A.Porohovschikov became an aircraft designer, as a prisoner he worked on the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal, was engaged in the construction of locks. After several years of camps, he was released, but in 1940 he was arrested again and shot.
In November 1936, the head of the Department of Tanks and Tractors of the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army was arrested by non-partisan professor V.I. Zaslavsky, the author of the first Russian book on tanks. According to the well-known specialist in the field of tank building of the American professor M. K. Christie, Zaslavsky was a prominent Soviet scientist in the field of tank building, who set the tone in the science of tank and tank design. A number of other well-known experts characterized him as a major Soviet scientist and theorist who initiated the development of tank business in the Soviet Union.
Arrested on November 19, 1936, he was signed for repression in the first category (shooting) in the list of "Moscow Center" of June 14, 1937 for 56 people on the presentation of the beginning. The 4th Division of the GUGB NKVD M. I. Litvin. Signatures: “For” - Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov. Sentenced by the Supreme Military Council of the Armed Forces on June 20, 1937 on charges of participating in an anti-Soviet sabotage organization. Shot on June 21, 1937. The ashes were buried on the territory of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow. Rehabilitated November 5, 1955.
In 1937, the USSR successfully passed tests of the SU-14 with an excellent 152 mm gun. For the success and achievements of the designer P.N. Syachintov was awarded the Order of Lenin, and after a few months for sabotage and espionage, he was arrested and shot. All work on the preparation of serial production of the SU-14 were discontinued.
The full impact of repression on the defense industry has not yet been studied. However, even fragmentary information provides a picture of completely wild "purges" that devastated the ranks of experienced defense industry personnel. It is also quite clear that the design and production of many types of weapons and military equipment was therefore significantly slowed down and difficult. In 1937, compared with the previous year, the Soviet tank industry produced 2.5 times fewer combat vehicles. Even today it is almost impossible to find photographs of prominent Soviet armored vehicles designers who were repressed. "Cursed and forgotten," as the veteran Viktor Astafiev wrote.
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