Tsunami on the Dnieper
On August 18, 1941, the Nazis, throwing a breakthrough Tanks and motorized troops with the aim of a sudden capture of the Dnieper hydroelectric power station and the dam, along which they expected to break into the city, broke through the defenses west of Zaporozhye on a narrow sector of the front. The enemy managed to break through to Khortitsa over the bridge over the old river bed of the Dnieper, approach the Dnieper hydroelectric station and begin shelling its defenders with mortar shells. The defending units, following the "order of Comrade Stalin of July 3, 1941," switching the hydroelectric power station generators to self-immolation, retreated to the Left Bank. The former head of the construction of Dneprostroy F.G. Loginov says: “It was August 18, 1941. On that day, Dneproges was operating at full load, although the shells flew through the dam and the power plant's turbine hall. In the event of a retreat of our troops, it was decided to disable the equipment of the station and the dam, to prevent the enemy from using the Dneproges. A difficult but necessary operation was entrusted to the chief engineer of Dneproges Grigory Shatsky ... ". The Germans subsequently also confirmed the destruction of the turbine hall by the station workers. In the memoirs of Speer, who from September 1930 was the head of the military development of the Reich, and from February 1942 - the Reich Minister of Armaments, it is reported: “… I also visited the power plant blown up by the Russians in Zaporozhye. German turbines were installed in it, after a large construction part managed to close the gap in the dam. In their retreat, the Russians disabled the equipment in a very simple and remarkable way: by switching the lubricant distributor while the turbines were operating at full speed. Deprived of lubrication, the cars heated up and literally devoured themselves, turning into a pile of unusable scrap metal. A very effective means of destruction and everything - a simple turn of the handle by one person! "
But the turbines were not the main target of the destruction. The dam itself should have been blown up. German troops were still on the right bank of the Dnieper, in the area of Nikopol and Krivoy Rog. No one was warned about the planned explosion of the Dnieper dam, either on the dam itself, along which military transports and troops were moving at that time, which were retreating to the left bank of the Dnieper, or the population and institutions of the city of Zaporozhye - 10-12 kilometers from the hydroelectric power station downstream of the Dnieper. Also, the military units located down from Zaporozhye in the Dnieper floodplains were not warned, although the telephone connection at that time on the Left Bank was functioning normally.
The study of the available documents of the 157th regiment of the NKVD troops for the protection of especially important industrial enterprises, which guarded and defended the Dnieper power station until the last minute, allows us to set the time of the dam blowing up to hours: 20.00-20.30 on August 18, 1941, by order of the commander of the South-West direction Semyon Budyonny sappers of the 157th carried out the operation.
It was at this time that the Dneproges, the Dnieper dams, and the railway bridge across the Dnieper were blown up.
Military transports and people who were moving along the dam at that time naturally died. As a result of the explosion of the bridge and the dam on the island of Khortitsa, an infantry regiment was left cut off, which was being transported at that time to the eastern coast.
A large gap formed in the body of the dam, and an active discharge of water began. As a result, an extensive flooding zone arose in the lower reaches of the Dnieper. The gigantic wave washed away several enemy crossings, sank many fascist units, who had taken refuge in the floodplains. But the water that escaped to freedom did not divide people into "us" and "strangers".
An almost thirty-meter avalanche of water swept through the Dnieper floodplain, flooding everything in its path. The entire lower part of Zaporozhye with huge reserves of various goods, military materials and tens of thousands of tons of food and other property was demolished in an hour. Dozens of ships, along with the ship's crews, perished in that terrible stream. The strength of the wave formed during the detonation of the DneproGES dam was such that the Volochaevka monitor was thrown ashore and then could be used as a defensive structure only on land.
In the flooded zone of the island of Khortitsa and Dnieper floodplains, for tens of kilometers to Nikopol and further, military units stood in positions. The explosion of the dam sharply raised the water level in the lower reaches of the Dnieper, where at that time the crossing of the troops of the 2nd cavalry corps, 18th and 9th armies, which were withdrawing near Nikolaev, began. These troops were "cut off" during the crossing, partly added to the number of troops that were surrounded and captured, and partly managed to cross over in incredibly difficult conditions, abandoning artillery and military equipment.
It was said that about 20000 Red Army soldiers died in the floodplains - no one thought to count exactly how many. In addition to the troops, tens of thousands of cattle and many people who were at work there at that time died in the floodplains.
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