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

On the Legendary Turksib railway

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On the Legendary Turksib railway
The Turkestan-Siberian railway is the one that connects Central Asia with Siberia and one of the main constructions of the first five-year plan of the USSR.

The question of building a railway from Siberia to Turkestan was raised in the 19th century. In pre-revolutionary Russia on the territory of present-day Kazakhstan railroads were laid mainly along the outskirts, while the central part, the northern and eastern regions, experienced an acute shortage in them.

Over the first years of Soviet power in Kazakhstan, almost thousand kilometers of railways were built, and more than a third of the entire length of the pre-revolutionary network. However, the level of development of rail transport was completely inadequate and could not provide a powerful boost to the entire national economy of the republic. The development of the region required the construction of a large railway linking Siberia with Central Asia. First of all, it was necessary to build a line from Semipalatinsk to Lugovoi - the Turkestan-Siberian railway. The outstanding representative of the Kazakh people, Turar Ryskulov, who at that time held the post of Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, stood at the sources of the birth of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway. It was he who was entrusted to head the Committee for Assistance to the Construction of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway under the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian Federation.

The construction of Turksib has played an outstanding role in the formation of the modern economy of Kazakhstan and the development of the entire railway transport of the republic. In the history of the steel highways of Kazakhstan, which laid the foundation for the development of the economy and culture of the region, which for a long time was part of the great Russia, many glorious pages are devoted to the legendary Turksib, which was commissioned eighty three years ago. The outstanding representative of the Kazakh people, Turar Ryskulov, who at that time held the post of Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, stood at the sources of the birth of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway. It was he who was entrusted to head the Committee for Assistance to the Construction of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway under the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian Federation. 

In the thirties of the last century the railways of Kazakhstan mainly passed along its western and northern outskirts and did not penetrate into the deep regions of the republic, where the largest industrial Trans-Kazakhstan railway was supposed to be. building. Problems of development and implementation of the management of the construction of the highway by the People's Commissariat of Railways in February a special department was created. The head of the department was Vladimir Shatov, who was not a railwayman by profession, but had extensive experience in organizing work. He took an active part in the establishment of Soviet power, was a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the army, then - commander of the rifle division. Between 1920 and 1921 V. Shatov was a member of the government of the Far Eastern Republic as Minister of Railways and Minister of War.

During 1926, in Central Asia, of all the crops of irrigation area for cotton accounted for only twenty percent, while sixty seven percent for wheat and rice. This ratio was largely due to the insufficient amount of imported bread. The main suppliers of bread to Central Asia were the North Caucasus and Ukraine. The huge distances to which bread was transferred significantly increased its price, reduced grain exports, loaded railroads and, in practice, often made it impossible to carry out other transport operations.

Meanwhile, in conditions of the emerging grain shortage in Central Asia, large stocks of marketable grain were in Western Siberia. The import of this bread was supposed to stabilize prices in the Central Asian market and to free up large areas occupied by grain crops for cotton. But Western Siberia was not connected by rail to Central Asia. The Altai railway reached only Semipalatinsk, and Semirechenskaya reached Pishpek. Between them there was a gap of one and a half thousand kilometers. The steel trunk of Turksib, one of the legendary construction sites of the first five-year plan, stretches for 1,500 kilometers along the Dneproges of the Central Committee of the  Communist Party on November 25, 1926, recognized as the most important of all the works of the exploiters. And for these purposes only for 1930 and 1933 for the operation of the road was prepared by eight point two thousand people, of which almost five thousand Kazakhs.

The construction of Turksib was decided to start from two sides: on July 15, 1927, the first rails from the north, from the city of Semipalatinsk, were laid, and in November  the rails laid from the south - from Lugovaya station. About fifty thousand people worked on the construction of the road. The whole country showed Turksib assistance in construction. From Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov and other industrial centers of the Soviet Union to the construction site there were skilled workers: concrete workers, reinforcement workers, signalmen, stackers. A large group of experienced engineers and technicians were sent here along the line.

At the same time, the bulk of the builders were formed from the local, mainly Kazakh, Russian and Ukrainian population. The leadership of the republic took care of the staffing of the builders in a short time, which allowed to reduce the approved deadline for putting the trunk into operation for more than a year. At the same time, there were a lot of problems, since the peasants, cattle-breeders and others arriving at the construction site had no qualifications and, for the most part, were illiterate. Therefore, active training of national cadres of the working class was conducted in parallel - more than ten thousand Kazakhs worked on Turksib. In addition to the builders had to prepare and future young people who have mastered the construction site reading and writing, received the labor profession? 1930 can rightly be called the beginning of the patronage of the Komsomol of Kazakhstan over the new buildings of the republic - the threshold for the creation of shock Komsomol construction projects, this kind of mass, labor, patriotic and moral university of youth. And the first lessons of this university began at Turksib, the legendary construction of the first five-year plan, which was the beginning of the transformation of the rich land, "noted in his article" Traditions of the Turksiberians are true "in 1986, on the eve of the half-century jubilee of the highway, S. Abdrakhmanov - first secretary of the Central Committee of the Young Communist League of Kazakhstan period, known now in the republic as a public figure.

The construction of the railway line began during the spring of 1927, while in the summer the first rails were laid in the north - in Semipalatinsk, and by the end of the year the first kilometers of the road were laid in the south - from Lugovaya station. Simultaneously, the construction of the Irtysh bridge was carried out, which was one of the largest structures on the Turksib. In the Semipalatinsk district, by November 1927, the construction of dwellings for workers' stations, outpatient facilities and a canteen were completed.

As already mentioned, the construction of Turksib was connected with overcoming climatic, technical and organizational difficulties. The route passed through a desert and semi-desert area with a sharply continental climate. In summer, the heat exceeded sixty degrees, in the winter - long snowstorms and frosts over fourty degrees. Special difficulties for builders arose due to late delivery of materials. The cartage was very expensive, there were not enough horses and camels. And for transportation of one log a steam supply was required. Weather also did not please the Turksibovites - more than half a year did not fall a single rain.

Despite the fact that the number of workers on the Turksib grew rapidly, reaching fifty thousand people by the beginning of 1930, there was still not enough workers. It was necessary to additionally attract the local population to the construction site. Invaluable help in this was provided by the Komsomol and youth. They started a lot of organizational work. Dozens of Komsomol agitators went to the auls and villages adjacent to the highway. They talked about the construction, the kind changes that it will bring.

As a result, the volunteers were literally flowing. At the construction site, a real training combine was created, which at the time was called the "building block". Classes at the school of construction workers often began with an alphabet. Turksib was not only a school for new generations of builders, but also a school in the most ordinary sense. On each site there were points of education. In the obligations of young workers, such promises were typical: to learn how to correctly read an article or story, learn to read a handwritten text, learn how to recite what has been read. At the same time, the Moscow Museum of the Revolution kept records on the issuance of wages to workers in one of the sections of the road. A curious human document appears accounting records, if you look closely at them, instead of painting many put crosses.

He put the crosses in the register at the beginning and the young worker Mukhtar Kaptagaev. The former bai tractor at first pinched sacks of land: the wheelbarrows were not enough. He worked conscientiously and soon noticed the guy. After the sack the wheelbarrow seemed to him a strange car. At the same time I learned to read and write. Here he made friends with Mikhail Pavlov, the machinist of the laying train, this peculiar construction on wheels, which moved forward as the rails were laid. Mark Pavlov suggested that he turn to the locomotive as a stoker. Then the leader became an assistant to the machinist, the machinist. He drove along the Turksib train, acted as one of the initiators of the movement of the five hundred.

At Ainabulak station, the northern and southern sections of the Turkestan-Siberian Railway closed, and on May 1, 1930, it entered into temporary operation, and in the beginning of the following year it became a permanent one. And from that moment Turksib began to function as a part of the unified railway network of the former Soviet Union. The border of the road to the north was determined by the traffic light of the Semipalatinsk station, in the south - to the station Arys.

After Turkestan-Siberian railway started operating, the entire construction team was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor by the decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, the significant work done by the Turksib Construction Assistance Committee under the government of the under the Council  became the Laureate of the Deputy Chairman of the State Prize of the country. The results of the construction of Turksib are not only millions of cubic meters of displaced land, tens of thousands of masonry cubes, bridges, railway stations and settlements. And all this can be expressed in exact figures, all of which are accountable. But what to express those changes that occurred in the consciousness of the modern demands put forward in important strategic documents. Council of People's Commissars Turar Ryskulov and the work of the Workers 'and Peasants' Inspection bodies, which, with the active assistance of the workers and engineering and technical forces of Turksib, contributed significantly to construction, both in carrying out rationalization measures, and in reducing the cost of all construction.

Local people used to call the railway Turksib as the road of a new life. Itjustified this name, having exerted a tremendous influence on the life of the vast territory: the once-provincial provincial city of Almaty grew up and rightfully became the administrative and cultural center of the republic, new cities and workers' villages including many. As already mentioned, Turksib was the forge of national cadres. After all, during the years of its construction, ten thousand former nomads took over the railway business, became regular workers, the ancestors of transport dynasties that had never been seen before in Kazakhstan. The names and deeds of the heroes of labor are still respected and recognized to this day. They worked at different times, occupied various posts, but each of them left a deep mark in the formation and development of Turksib.

With the special significance of railway transport, it is important to keep in mind that its socio-economic role, and most importantly, the history of the origin, formation and development of steel trunk lines. After all, their length has now exceeded sixteen thousand kilometers, and, as is gratifying, construction continues to this day. Thus, the construction of Turksib in the thirties of the last century and the development of the entire railway transport of the republic on this basis played an outstanding role in shaping the modern economy of Kazakhstan.

Turksib became a bridge of friendship, here Kazakhs and Russians, Ukrainians and Belarus people, Uzbeks and Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis - representatives of almost all nationalities of the Soviet Union worked shoulder to shoulder. In just nine months of 1928, 2,500 volunteers from a number of cities including Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Omsk, Tambov, Tobolsk, Sverdlov, Chelyabinsk and other cities of the Urals and Siberia came to the North section. They were experienced and competent specialists. At the height of construction in the summer of the same year, 372 workers arrived from Tashkent, from Moscow - twenty drivers, from Leningrad - eleven excavators, from cities and villages of Ukraine - fifteen thousand excavators.

The documents show that simultaneously with the road construction of a number of artificial structures began, which was carried out at a rapid pace. On the Irtysh were created a barge and ferry crossing. The transportation of goods was uninterrupted. In the Semipalatinsk district, by November 1927, the construction of dwellings for workers and office workers, workshops, warehouses, temporary depots, a compressor station, an outpatient clinic and a canteen was largely completed. With the help of Leningrad scientists and technicians, a permanent radio communication has been established between Semipalatinsk, Alma-Ata and Moscow. A high rate of construction would not be possible without permanent financing. Back in nineteen twety seven, Turar Ryskulov, speaking with a great speech at a meeting of the Council of Labor and Defense of the country with an analysis of works, sharply raised the financial question. His proposals were accepted, only 169 million rubles were allocated for construction.

The spring of 1930 entered the history of the construction of Turksib as a busy period of struggle for fulfilling the obligation of early joining of the Northern and Southern sections. The whole team of builders was penetrated by the consciousness of the link of the highway. Everyone tried to give the highest possible productivity. This joyful exciting event occurred on April 28, when the builders of the Northern and Southern directions met at the site of the future Ainabulak station. The construction of Turksib played a huge role in the industry of Kazakhstan. The people called Turksib "Dear life", the great highway fully justified its name, having had a serious impact on the fate of the vast region. And after 85 years, an endless stream of trains run along the steel tracks. In any weather, day and night, bear their hard, but indispensable service, without fail providing the needs of the national economy in transportation.

Turksib entered the annals of our common history as one of those grandiose construction projects of socialism that transformed the region from a backward border into one of the strategic bases for the further industrialization of the country. However, if in the domestic historiography Turksib was considered primarily as an economic achievement, Western historiography positions Turksib as a vivid example of ethnic modernization in the context of the widespread theory of the "empire of positive action. As the proclaimed slogan of Bolshevism to end ethnic inequality and raise the previously exploited colonies, the regime proclaimed Turksib as the forge of the Kazakh proletariat, assuring that socialism is able to liberate nations from the shackles of backwardness and imperialist exploitation.

In terms of the level of coercion, this one-off campaign equals the author to the program for power modernization of Peter the Great against the backdrop of a previous relatively sparing social policy and a mixed economy called the New Economic Policy. The fact is that Turksib was built during the period of not only industrialization, but also collectivization and the strengthening of the class struggle. Cleaning the wreckers among the managers and the "classically close" workers, bourgeois nationalists, forming an organizational body for the shock brigades from the peasant layers, introducing party and police supervision, and the subsequent politicization of all spheres of production and consumption - all this was reflected in the history of Turksib.

The interpretation of this process only as an internal struggle, in order to achieve the super exploitation of its people for the sake of the narrow ruling elite and its collaborators is the correct, but superficially equalizing approach of the once dominant "public school" in historiography. It overlooks the good part of the complex relationships between government and society, where the tops saw themselves as social revolutionaries and therefore were extremely irritated by the half-measures and compromise policies of the Soviet Union, and the people, despite the radical break-up, managed to stand in the fire of the crusade, adapt and even to what extent to use the party's policy for their own purposes. During the construction of Turksib, a whole complex of political mechanisms was involved, from which three can be distinguished at the root of various actors: the central government commissariats, the regional lobby and the regime itself.

In the context under consideration, the author notes that the methodological approximation that best grasps the complex problem of power during this crusade is in the idiomatic expression of the "cultural revolution" implanted in non-Soviet historiography by Shila Fitzpatrick a quarter of a century ago in relation to the history of the USSR. This approach reveals the enormous potential that has been liberated in various strata of society, each of which, in its own interests, has interpreted the content of socialism. The paradigm of the cultural revolution made it possible in fact to disclose the multifaceted nature of Soviet politics, distinguished both by arguments and by adjusting to new conditions for the facade of external ideological cohesion, in conditions when old social ties lost their legitimacy and the new ones remained at the level of informal ties.

There was a unification of the concepts of class and nation in the Bolshevik political view, when the Soviet state gave the former colonial peoples legalized political equality with the Russians, and in many cases also their own territorial units. Pine writes that this policy of the primacy of the national cultural autonomy reached even the assimilation of the Russians. The Soviet bureaucratic apparatus, as well as the managers had to learn the language of the titular nation at the duty station. Moscow's desire to form not just nations but proletarian nations required the creation of working-class detachments in ethnic minority dwellings, when Kazakh workers, according to the ideas of the authorities, would help establish the dictatorship of the proletariat to a greater extent than Kazakh cattlemen.

The core of this strategy was a program of affirmative action based on ethnicity, which included the implementation of a number of actions: from the establishment of posts at the level of local governments led by a representative of indigenous nationality to an educational level. Artificially blocked during the tsarist period in a stagnant state of economic production, devoid of industry and a decent level of literacy, the Kazakhs were unable to create their proletariat as a by-product of industrialization.