Military Review

The corridor of death. As a historian V.M. Kovalchuk discovered the "trench truth" of the Leningrad blockade

The corridor of death. As a historian V.M. Kovalchuk discovered the "trench truth" of the Leningrad blockadeJanuary 27, on the Day of Military Glory of Russia, when we celebrate the 70 anniversary of the liberation of the hero-city of Leningrad from the shackles of the fascist siege, we must recall the outstanding historian-researcher of the Leningrad blockade, his works devoted to the legendary Shlisselburgskaya railway, which largely came long-awaited victory on the banks of the Neva.

I look at his photograph in the form of a naval officer, and I think what kind of a courageous and handsome man he was, the bearer and creator of that unique culture that is commonly called Petersburg.

Chief Researcher of the St. Petersburg Institute stories Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation, World War II participant Valentin Mikhailovich Kovalchuk did not live up to the current anniversary date for several months. He passed away on 4 on October 2013 of the year on 98's year of life.

“Departure from the life of the outstanding historian Valentin Mikhailovich Kovalchuk,” the governor of St. Petersburg, G.S. Poltavchenko is a great loss both for science and for our city. A patriotic man and deeply devoted to his work, he worked for more than half a century at the St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A veteran of the war, he devoted many of his works to the history of the defense of Leningrad during the years of the blockade. His books are written on the basis of authentic documents and memoirs of city defenders. The monuments dedicated to the blockade and the battle for Leningrad were a subject of special care for Valentin Mikhailovich. For more than forty years he headed the section of historical monuments of the city branch of the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Monuments of History and Culture. Until the last days of his life, Valentin Mikhailovich Kovalchuk was engaged in scientific and social activities. His merits are marked by prestigious awards and awards. I knew Valentin Mikhailovich personally and deeply grateful to him for the preservation of the historical heritage of our great city. ”

With his research, Valentin Mikhailovich was the first not only to introduce into the scientific use, instead of the official number, more than 600, thousands of people who died of hunger from Leningrad during the siege, one million people, but also was able to confirm and defend his innocence, which was very, very difficult.

In 1965, an article was published in the journal Voprosy istorii

Valentin Mikhailovich "Leningrad" requiem. " This publication received a wide public response, the support of specialists and prominent military leaders, including Marshal of the Soviet Union G.K. Zhukov.

However, the reaction of party ideologues to this publication was sharply negative. Up to "perestroika", censorship did not allow the press to publish any other data on mortality in besieged Leningrad, except for those officially established during the war years.

I highly appreciated the contribution of Valentin Mikhailovich to the study of the history of the Great Patriotic War;

A.O. Chubaryan:

“He has largely devoted his life to one of the most difficult and sorrowful pages in the annals of the Great Patriotic War - the Leningrad blockade. V.M. Kovalchuk dealt with other topics of this period, but it was his works on the history of the blockade that became one of the fundamental ones for all those interested in that era. In his studies, based on the deepest study of archival documents, memories of both ordinary Leningraders and famous military leaders, the events of those tragic years that became an integral part of the great feat of our people in the Patriotic War are revealed. ”

* * *

The First World War was going ... At its very beginning, in 1914, from Little Russia to Petrograd (this name, more familiar to the Russian ear, given the name of St. Petersburg during the war), comes peasant Mikhail Ivanovich Kovalchuk. He was sent to the capital by mobilization at a military factory.

Valentin, the future historian, was born in Petrograd in 1916 year.

He was destined to survive a revolution, a civil war, collectivization, the Great Patriotic War, for participation in which

Valentin Mikhailovich was awarded many military awards.

As a child he dreamed of becoming a pilot. Dreams are dreams, and the choice of a future profession was largely determined when Valentine was studying at the school named after the October 10 anniversary. Teachers, as recalled Valentin Mikhailovich, saw that he was more suited to the humanities ...

And here he is - a student of the history department of the Leningrad Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History (later became part of the Leningrad State University)

A gifted graduate who successfully graduated from the university was offered to study further - in graduate school of Leningrad State University. However, a different path awaited him: Valentin Kovalchuk became an adjunct to the command faculty at the KE Voroshilov Naval Academy.

“Of us, teachers of the history of naval art were trained for higher naval educational institutions,” Valentin Mikhailovich recalled. - I was sent to work in July 1941 - at the Higher Black Sea Naval School in Sevastopol. Was there until January 1942 - until I was appointed to the historical department of the Naval General Staff. Working in the department, I based on archival documents wrote a chronicle of the Black Sea military operations fleet - subsequently three volumes of this chronicle were published ... I was also allowed to carry out operational duty at the reserve flagship command post of the People's Commissar of the Navy Admiral N.G. Kuznetsov, located in Kuibyshev. "

Immediately after the end of the Great Patriotic War, Valentin Mikhailovich returns to his native Leningrad. He was invited to teach at the Naval Academy named after K. Ye Voroshilov. In addition to teaching, he is engaged in science here - he prepared and defended his thesis on the protection of the sea lanes of besieged Sevastopol.

“The Leningrad theme arose when I, after being demobilized, went to work at the Leningrad branch of the Institute of History of the USSR Academy of Sciences. From that moment on, all my research activities became associated with the history of the Leningrad battle, ”said Valentin Mikhailovich.

This is what his friend recalls about this period of life of Valentin Mikhailovich - Director of the Russian Scientific Center for Radiology and Surgical Technologies, Academician of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Honorary Citizen of St. Petersburg A.M. Granov:

“At one time, he was so fascinated by history that he neglected his military career and went to work at the Leningrad branch of the Institute of History as a junior researcher. He felt that his vocation was a science, and had grown to very high heights. ”

Valentin Mikhailovich chooses unbeaten paths - the study of the history of the battle for Leningrad, the blockade, the Roads of Life ... It was he who was at the forefront of the scientific study of these issues, the solution of which became the meaning of his life.

“The pen of Valentin Mikhailovich Kovalchuk, like the brush of an experienced artist, brought to life the phenomenon of a multifaceted phenomenon called contemporaries a“ blockade, ”notes the director of the St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAS, doctor of historical sciences NN Smirnov. “Over time, it became the largest scientific authority recognized not only in its homeland, but also far beyond its borders.”

Valentine Kovalchuk devoted a lot of energy to a deep and comprehensive study of the Road of Life. For the book “Leningrad and the Big Land: The History of Ladoga communications of blocked Leningrad in 1941 — 1943”, he was awarded the academic degree of Doctor of Historical Sciences.

“He wrote particularly heartfelt about the Road of Life, which was used to communicate with the Great Land,” recalled the honorary president of the Association of Historians of the Second World War, chief researcher at the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, doctor of history O.A. Rzheshevsky. -

A native Leningrad citizen, an officer who went through the war, he deeply understood the significance of the feat of the Soviet people who defended the city, and with his scientific works he preserved it for posterity. "

In his other monographs - “Victory Road besieged Leningrad: Shlisselburg — Polyany Railway in 1943”, “Highways of Courage”, “900 Days of Blockade. Leningrad 1941 — 1944 ”and in the collective works prepared under his leadership and author's participation, the feat of the defenders and inhabitants of Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War was deeply revealed.

Valentin Mikhailovich was awarded the Literary Prize of the City Legislative Assembly, named after the famous military leader of the Great Patriotic War, commander of the Leningrad front, Marshal L.A. for the 300 anniversary of St. Petersburg and the 60 anniversary of the breakthrough of the Leningrad blockade. Govorova.

Preparing the second edition of the book “900 days of blockade. Leningrad 1941 - 1944 "he selected newspaper publications, new monographs and publications of documents ...

All these interesting materials are preserved in his home archive with notes on the margins and bookmarks between the pages of books. But very important work, unfortunately, remained unfulfilled ...

* * *

Valentin Mikhailovich devoted many years of his life to the little-studied history of besieged Leningrad - the construction and operation of the Shlisselburg railway.

Archival documents, memories of railroad workers, soldiers and officers, newspapers and other editions of the war years allowed Valentin Mikhailovich to achieve results that coincided with the “trench truth” of the participants in the events.

Based on these diverse sources, from the standpoint of an objective researcher, he covers the construction of the Shlisselburg railway, the course of traffic on it with constant shelling and bombardment of the enemy, protection of the highway, its role in the life and struggle of the city on the Neva River, in preparation for the defeat of the Nazi troops near Leningrad. Flipped pages of works of Valentin Mikhailovich, read into the documents of the past heroic years, which they cited.

... 18 January 1943, the troops of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts broke through the blockade. And on the same day, the State Defense Committee adopted a resolution on the construction of a narrow land strip with a width of just 8 - 11 kilometers of a small, but very important railway line, able to link the city with the mainland, on the southern coast of Lake Ladoga.

Headed the construction of I.G. Zubkov, who before the Great Patriotic War supervised the construction of the Leningrad metro. And in January frosts about five thousand people began to implement this daring plan. Surveyors, railway workers, military men worked almost around the clock ...

The task seemed almost impossible, because the railway had to be built in just 20 days. In peacetime, such a construction would take at least a year.

“The terrain along which the route was laid — the former Sinyavino peat-mining operations — was very inconvenient for the construction of the railway,” wrote Valentin Mikhailovich Kovalchuk. - It was crossed, swampy, there were no roads on it, which were necessary for bringing the necessary materials. Every meter of land was filled with mines, unexploded ordnance, all sorts of surprises and traps. The difficulties were aggravated by the extremely difficult conditions of winter - severe frosts and snowstorms. ”

Approximately in 5-6 kilometers from the road under construction, on the Sinyavsky heights, the Germans sat down. At first, they could not understand what the Russians were doing, but when they understood, they began to bombard the site with continuous artillery fire. At the same time, the newly erected sections of the road were often destroyed. The Soviet anti-aircraft guns, as best they could from the ground, covered the construction site from enemy shelling, fighters did it from the air.

To speed up the work, the track was built according to the most simplified technologies. On most of the way, the sleepers and rails were laid directly on the snow, without a laid earthen mound or ballast.

The Shlisselburg highway was built in record time - in 17 days, three days earlier than it was designated. Built by people who survived in besieged Leningrad, subjected to continuous shelling of the Nazis.

The new 33 road was a kilometer long between the Shlisselburg station (now Petrokrepost) and the Polyana platform, located on the Leningrad-Volkhovstroy line. She connected the Leningrad knot with the all-Union railway network. For the movement of trains on the Shlisselburg highway, the 48-I locomotive column was created. From a special reserve NKPS identified thirty powerful locomotives.

5 February 1943 of the year in 17: 43 went to Leningrad from Volkhovstroy station

The first composition with food, which pulled the engine under the number Eu 708-64. It was managed by a brigade composed of senior engineer I.P. Pirozhenko, assistant driver VS Dyatleva and the stoker IA Antonov. Despite shelling, on February 6 in 16 hours it reached New Village station, and on February 7 in 12: the 10 train arrived at the Finland Station. People cried for joy, hats flew up!

Another composition went from Leningrad to the mainland. It was driven by the steam engine Em 721-83, which was managed by the senior engineer P.A. Fedorov.

Now, food and other goods were regularly brought to Leningrad. But few knew what price it was given.

... Hitler was informed about a new branch of the railway built by the Russians. The Fuhrer demanded to bomb the highway, which every day trains, delivered food and ammunition to the blocked city.

The railway workers called the Shlisselburg Railway the “death corridor”: every day it threatened the brigades working on it. In the 48 th locomotive column from 600, every third person died.

And how to calculate how much more died during the construction, defense and restoration of the highway of courage!

The trains were driven by machinists who were recalled from the front, many were taken to Leningrad by plane. Young girls - yesterday's Leningrad schoolgirls, who survived the blockade, in the direction of the Komsomol became the stokers, assistant machinists, conductors.

Because of the constant bombardment by the Nazis, trains could only move at night with dimmed lights. During the night, only three trains could pass to Leningrad and the same back. This, of course, was not enough, so the railroad workers changed the train schedule to a flow one. Now the trains went one after another, first in one direction, then in the other. Most of the “corridor” was clearly visible from the Sinyavsky Heights. The Germans had aviation projectors and sound catchers, which made it easy to detect the movement of the train.

From the diary of the 48-th locomotive column of the special reserve NKPS, cited by Valentin Mikhailovich, we will be anxious to find out how only one day was on the highway - 18 of June of 1943:

“... The 718-30 steam locomotive came under fire. Damaged highway. The path is covered with earth. Corrections and clearing the way made by the forces of the brigade under the incessant shelling. The train withdrawn unscathed. Later, the train was subjected to air raid. Burned tour car. Both machinists, Baranov and Amosov, a fireman Klementyev, were wounded. After dressing, Amosov returned to the controller and brought the train. The whole team behaved heroically, many cars were saved from the fire ... "

The Shlisselburg highway acted along with the Ladoga communications that continued to exist, but gradually, with each passing day increasing its carrying capacity, became the main source in supplying Leningrad still in the blockade, it became its Victory Road. And communication through Lake Ladoga acquired a duplicate value.

Spring greatly complicated the operation of the highway. The marshy soil, along which the road was laid, thawed, the melt waters flooded the road. Even greater difficulties caused an increase in daylight. In sequence. followed by shelling and air raids.

In this regard, 19 March 1943, the Military Council of the Leningrad Front adopted a resolution - to build on the route Shlisselburg - Polyana bypass 18, 5 kilometers. This route took place in 2-3 kilometers from the main road. He was not only farther than the front line, but was also better covered due to the terrain and shrubs.

Movement on a detour began on April 25 of the year 1943. By the end of May, Leningrad received up to 35 trains per day. The city finally came to life.

In total, from the start of operation of the Shlisselburg Mainline through December of the 1943, 3105 was passed to Leningrad and 3076 trains from Leningrad. Thanks to her, it became possible to supply the city’s garrison with a sufficient amount of ammunition and equipment, and provide the residents with normal food. In addition to bread, which now fully corresponded to its purpose in terms of flour content, Leningraders began to give out more and other products.

Improving health care, food and fuel supply has led to improved public health. Sharply reduced incidence and mortality. The successful work of the Shlisselburg highway favorably affected the municipal economy of Leningrad and, above all, its restoration.

The head of the October Railway B.K. Salambekov wrote about the Shlisselburg highway at the end of the war as follows:

“Here the enemy gunners, mortar gunners and pilots hunted each train. There were unusual technical conditions - the path was laid in places along the swamp, and the water stood above the rail head; here, finally, they were completely unusual and, of course, the very forms of the organization of the movement are very heavy. And the track ... gave the most vivid manifestations of the mass heroism of the Leningrad railway workers. ”

Only 23 February 1944-th, after the defeat of the fascist troops under the city on the Neva and the final lifting of the blockade, the main railway line Leningrad - Moscow re-entered into service.

“The events of 1943 of the year, like the entire battle for Leningrad, have long become history,” wrote Valentin Mikhailovich Kovalchuk. - There is already no Shlisselburg highway. Where she went, everything changed. But the grateful Petersburg citizens of Leningrad will always remember those who, under difficult conditions, built, defended and exploited the legendary Victory Road. ”

Now, two steam locomotives have become monuments: Eu 708 – 64 stands at Volkhovstroy station, and Em 721 – 83 - at Petrokrepost station. BUT

in Shlisselburg, on the banks of the Neva, one can see a modest stela. Before her - a piece of railroad tracks. The inscription on the stela reminds that here, after the blockade was broken through, under the fire of the enemy, ferries and a railway line were built that linked the besieged Leningrad to a country that never forgot Leningraders and tried to help them.
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  1. 311ove
    311ove 29 January 2014 09: 16
    Eternal memory to the defenders and residents of Leningrad, these HEROES and SACRED people !!!!! and more needs to be written and talked about our history, and even the liberals are already poking their snout ... The more people know, the less these ..... have the opportunity to spoil, distort! Something like that. Thanks to the author.
    1. Heccrbq.3
      Heccrbq.3 29 January 2014 13: 21
      On the protection of Leningrad and not only ...
    2. vladimirZ
      vladimirZ 30 January 2014 08: 00
      There is already no Shlisselburg highway.

      The second "road of life" of Leningrad, which saved the lives of millions of residents, revived the city to a full-blooded life, for some reason is not deserved, is less voiced in history than the Ice Road through Lake Ladoga.
      We must remember the feat of the Soviet people.
  2. Combitor
    Combitor 29 January 2014 10: 00
    The "blockade" topic has not been fully disclosed, and, probably, will never be fully disclosed. Not everything has survived, something will never be available to us. But even what we already know is enough to get down on our knees and bow our heads before the "blockades", their feat and self-sacrifice.
    The contribution of V.M.Kovalchuk is also a feat. A feat of truth and truth. Thanks to him for the great and eternal memory that will remain in his writings.
  3. user
    user 29 January 2014 11: 16
    In the early 90s, he made repairs in the apartment and that would not have boringly turned on the radio, remember the wired radio was in every apartment. And the whole day talking about the blockade of Leningrad was obviously some kind of anniversary, now I don’t remember, we interviewed the then-living blockades. More than 20 years have passed, but I still remember with horror what they were telling. How did they eat children, the smallest and weakest, because the older children were dying of hunger, moreover, the elders who survived this way told. Never again have I heard anything like this again on TV in any other media.
    I don’t even know what else to comment on.
  4. Rinat 1
    Rinat 1 29 January 2014 12: 06
    Eternal glory to veterans and WWII workers! Without their victory, we would not be here now. And it is a pity that now young people have begun to forget their history, many Baltic countries idolize the fascists who burned their grandfathers and grandmothers, the same Ukrainians forgot how they were tortured, burned in concentration camps and now proudly carry a swastika.
  5. Vadim2013
    Vadim2013 29 January 2014 13: 43
    He was at the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery in 80 during a business trip to Leningrad. The blessed memory of the dead and the dead in the blockade.
  6. smersh70
    smersh70 29 January 2014 14: 21
    who will tell interestingly why the Germans during the winter did not advance from Shlisselburg to the Life Road. there was ice on the lake, it was impossible to make trenches there. And secondly, in the summer they could carry out a landing operation, and left to Leningrad and to the right, to side of the mainland.
    1. smile
      smile 29 January 2014 15: 14
      Attempts to get sabotage groups were. Large units there was nothing to do. Ours simply foresaw everything and created a whole defense system, hundreds of bunkers, a thorn, mines, MPPs were frozen into ice ... such an attempt to the Nazis would not bring anything good. Especially when you consider that they would have to act without equipment, without artillery, on ice, which you can’t dig in, out of the main forces, which means they would carry bk and fuel and eat on their hump, and all this under active the impact of our aircraft ... How much would have been claimed? It would be suicide for them, we would destroy them all. The Finns made several attempts, we also went to visit them on the ice ... and for us and for the Finns, such trips basically ended in shit.
      1. BOB48
        BOB48 29 January 2014 20: 37
        roughly speaking, there would be a 2nd ice battle!
  7. Pehmore
    Pehmore 29 January 2014 19: 49
    The true City of Hero! No other city could withstand this, at least I didn’t hear. The city that knew what it would withstand, the country would survive. Leningraders won. Eternal Glory to all the inhabitants and defenders of the CITY-HERO!
    1. BOB48
      BOB48 29 January 2014 20: 39
      Eternal glory S O V E T S C I M L Y D Y M - L E N I N G R A D C A M!
  8. ia-ai00
    ia-ai00 30 January 2014 08: 00
    Thanks to such indifferent people like Valentin Mikhailovich, future generations will be able to learn about the heroism of their ancestors, both at the front and in the rear. And the Leningradites — all 900 days of the blockade — have a solid front line. Without a shudder in the heart, it is impossible to read about those tragic days. Eternal glory to the Leningraders and all the defenders of the Fatherland!