«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»

History of Akmolinsk-Kartaly Railway construction (1939-1945)

History of construction and development of Akmolinsk-Kartaly Railway started from the decisions of the 18th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in March 1939

History of construction and development of Akmolinsk-Kartaly Railway started from the decisions of the 18th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in March 1939. The Congress adopted the proposition about the need of industry’s approach to sources of raw materials and consumption areas with the aim to liquidate irrational and very distant transportation of goods. Construction of the railway should reduce the distance between Karaganda Coal Field and Magnitogorsk Steel Mill and ensure regularly supply of coking coal to the plants of Southern Ural. It should be noted that during the years of socialist industrialization coal was the main source of energy for the whole industry and transport in the country. "Coal is a source of economic life of the country. There is no development of modern industry and equipment without coal." These words were pronounced by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Kazakhstan N. A. Skvortsov at the meeting of communists of Karaganda Coal Field in October 1942.

Preparatory work started in summer 1938 when geodesists marked the route of future railway on maps. In spring of the following year builders took up their role. Ukrainian youth helped the republic. On their initiative in 1939 more than twenty thousand members of Komsomol (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) from the brother Republic and young people from outside the USSR arrived to Kazakhstan. Working conditions were very difficult and unusual for many people. Hot weather and dust in summer turned into winter frosts. A digger was the most important profession. A great deal of work on fill of railroad bed along the whole road was completed manually. However, despite all the difficulties, the work was accomplished in record time. On January 28, 1940 an important event in the history of national transportation happened. That was the day when the roads of railway, which construction began from Akmolinsk and Kartaly at one time, got together. Witnesses recalled that there was freezing cold and snowstorm. People had to saw frozen bread.

Further construction and development of railway continued during the Great Patriotic War. In 1943 it was accepted for operation with substantial building defects especially related to track facilities, road houses and artificial constructions. In the end of that year two thousand people worked at Stalin-Magnitogorsk Railway (as it used to be called at that time). According to the report of Makeichenko, the Head of the eleventh road distance of Karaganda railway, 730 of them was deported from Poland to Kazakhstan, 376 — evacuated from western regions of the country and 894 representatives of local population. All of them were accommodated in uncomfortable earth-houses; there were no bath-houses. There were cases of common illnesses especially malaria. Sometimes the number of those affected by malaria reached 30 percent. According to Makeichenko, that was the result of lack of clothes and shoes, especially among evacuated people and citizens of Poland which worked barefooted and half-dressed in winter 1943.

Deported to Kazakhstan in 1944 Chechens and Ingush participated in construction of railway infrastructure along with Poles. In summer of that year 1500 Chechens and Ingush arrived to Tobol station. By that time building of houses for forced settlers had begun. At the same time local authorities tried to solve other problems of newcomers to Kustanay land. In particular, it was supply of food, valenki (type of shoes), short fur coat, leather shoes and giving private farms, seed of potato and millet, livestock, and so on. However, the life of Chechens and Ingush was almost the same as the life of deported Poles and evacuated population.

Shortage of workers for construction of the railway was overcome by temporary assistance from local dwellers. At the beginning of the War, on July 20, 1941, the Kustanay Regional Executive Committee and the Kustanay Regional Committee of the Party decided to provide subsidiary labor force and draft-cattle for construction of Stalin-Magnitogorsk Railway. 500 farmers and 500 carts were available for up to 20 working days.

This practice continued during the following years.

Despite all the difficulties workers tried to carry out their mandated tasks. 1943 became memorable for them. That was the year when the railway was commissioned. In September the construction of Kushmurun depot was finished. At the same time the Kushmurun Department of Karaganda Railways of the Kazakh SSR was established.

With the construction of the railway and development of steel road railway men permanently solved the tasks how to provide the front with weapon, ammunition and food. Coal supply from Karaganda to the plants of Southern Ural increased.

Soviet and party offices of Kustanay region helped railway employees of Akmolinsk-Kartaly Railway. On January 15, 1945 they adopted the joint decree on mobilization of 25 people to work as stokers at Karaganda Railways. "In accordance with the Order of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Soviet People’s Commissars of the KazSSR from 20 December 1944, — it noted, — it’s necessary to mobilize 25 able-bodied men from the following regions: Semiozernyy — 5 workers, Karasuskiy — 4, Taranovskiy — 8, Ordzhonikidzevskiy— 8″.

1. Bolshe karagandinskogo uglya strane i frontu. Stalin’s Way. 1942. 18 October. p. 1
2. Makeyev L. K rodnym beregam. Lenin’s Way. 1961. 28 May. p. 3
3. Bolotov G. Preodolet otstavaniye otdeleniya dorogi. Stalin’s Way. 1956. 6 January. p. 2
4. Zhavoronkov G. Lokot tovarishcha. Lenin’s Way. 1967. 3 November. p. 2
5. State Archive of Kirov Region. Fund 268. Inventory 2. Document 183. Page 182
6. State Archive of Kirov Region. Fund 268. Inventory 2. Document 196. Page 131
7. State Archive of Kirov Region. Fund 268. Inventory 2. Document 146. Page 187
8. State Archive of Kirov Region. Fund 268. Inventory 2. Document 201. Page 108
9. Kazakhstan v period Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyny Sovetskogo Soyuza. V. 2. Аlma-Аta, 1967. p. 104
10. Zavod vklyuchilsya v predoktyabrskoye sorevnovaniye. Stalin’s Way. 1943. 19 September. p. 4
11. State Archive of Kirov Region. Fund 268. Inventory 2. Document 198. Page 22
12. State Archive of Kirov Region. Fund 268. Inventory 2. Document 203. Page 58
13. O vvedenii voyennogo polozheniya na vsekh zheleznykh dorogakh. Ukaz Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR. Stalin’s Way. 1943. 18 April. p. 1
14. Zheleznodorozhnyy transport- rodnoy brat Krasnoy armii. Stalin’s Way. 1943. 1 August. p. 4
15. M. Prokofyeva. Samootverzhennyy trud transportnoy molodezhi. Stalin’s Way. 1942. 27 May. p. 3
16. Karaganda: Istoriya gorodov Kazakhstana. Аlmа-Аtа, 1989. p. 75

B. N. Nurseitov, Associated Prefessor, Department of National History, Kostanay State University named after A. Baytursynov