I would like to start this material with the well-known Soviet slogan: "Nobody is forgotten and nothing is forgotten!" I don’t remember when they let him through the expanses and scales of our "immense country". The very same phrase first appeared in a poem by Olga Berggolts, which she wrote in 1959 specifically for the famous memorial stele at the Piskarevskoye cemetery in Leningrad, where many victims of the tragic events of the Leningrad blockade were buried. Well, after that, whoever did not use it. Pretentiousness always attracts and impresses, who does not know that ?!
The first train that arrived in besieged Leningrad on the Polyany-Shlisselbur railway.
And now some personal impressions. It was 1989 when I first went to Podolsk to the archives of the Ministry of Defense. Only a year has passed after the approval of the academic title of candidate of historical sciences, there are plans for a doctorate and the opportunity to go to work in the archive. And there I see a large photograph of T-34 tanks with a characteristic gun mask and an inscription on the armor: "Dimitri Donskoy." Below is the signature that Metropolitan Nicholas of Kiev is handing over to the Soviet tankmen a tank column built with the money of believers. I read even further - I learned: “The tank column“Dmitry Donskoy”was built with money collected by the Russian Orthodox Church. This means, firstly, that after the Torgsins there was still something to collect (!), And secondly, it indicated that there was a unit whose fighters also fought the enemy, also performed heroic deeds, but for some reason I was about I didn’t read them. It is now enough to type in Google "Dimitriy Donskoy (tank column)" and everything will "come out" to you, right down to the sources where all this is taken from. But then … then about this very little was reported in the book of A. Beskurnikov "Strike and Defense" (1974) and that's it!
And this is how tanks with the inscription "Dimitry Donskoy" on the armor were transferred to our tankers.
The next year, in 1990, I again went to the archives of the Moscow Region, but before him I went to the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, where at that time the "office of the Moscow Metropolitan" was located. Before going to them, I addressed there with a letter. Like, I want to write a book about the combat path of this column called "Star and Cross". Therefore, give me all the data on donations and all the information that you have, and the more, the better … They greeted me at the Lavra very warmly, presented all the materials, but said amazing things. Archimandrite Innokenty said so bluntly that "we are not allowed into the military archives," they do not give information, so you will have to do everything yourself. And the data on how much was collected by the church - "Here's to you!" “We,” he said further, “will publish such a book even at the expense of the church, just write!”
I received a blessing from him (the first in my life) and left for Podolsk. But … no matter how much I worked there - and I had a business trip for … 48 days - that's exactly how long our students did not study at that time, but they worked in the countryside, fulfilling the Food Program to provide the country with food, and did not find anything! That is, he found that "there was a column" that was sent to the front. And then … further, that it was sent by separate tanks to … units for replenishment, including the Fourth Guards Tank Army. But specifically, that the tanks entered the 38th (19 T-34-85) and 516th (21 OT-34) flamethrower separate tank regiments, I did not find any information! Or, most likely, they simply weren't given to me, because from the way the employees worked there, it was clear that no one was interested in my searches.“You can't go there, you can't go there, hand over the notebook for checking … why do you need this, but this is not allowed, and this, and that … and in general,” as the head of the department told me. archive, when I went to complain to him - it takes a thousand people to build a bridge and only one to blow it up! " And it’s true how he looked into the water! And in less than a year, 16 million members of the CPSU did nothing to prevent the "explosion of the bridge", that is, the collapse of the USSR, although it would be absurd to say that only one single person blew it up.
In general, my book is "covered". But now we have exhaustive, albeit dry lines, which anyone can find by typing a request in Google. Why it was so clear. "Religion is opium for the people," but here … at least some, but still, advantages to the church, even if indirect. Another thing surprised me. It was 1990, “no one was forgotten and nothing was forgotten,” and it was impossible to find out exactly how our tankers fought in tanks with the name “Dimitry Donskoy” on their armor, it was considered dangerous. What were they to blame? The fact that their tanks were bought with the money of believers? And, of course, I was not the only one who was so smart that I decided to “dig in these gold deposits”. There were, of course, people before me, and even, most likely, from close Moscow and … no one was able to do this under the Soviet regime!
Well, now, after such a big "introduction" we have come close to the main thing. And the main thing will be how Leningrad, cut off by the Germans from the mainland, was supplied with food? Many will say about the "Road of Life", and … this will not be an entirely correct answer. Yes, there was “The Road of Life” (and there was a very interesting article about it on VO), but … there was one more way! The railway laid immediately after the break of the blockade in January 1943 from the Shlisselburg station to the Polyany station is 33 km long. It was through it that 75% of all goods sent there arrived in the city. Ladoga "Road" gave only 25%!
And now only information: the builders laid 33 kilometers of this road in just 17 days! At the same time, it was built by about 5,000 people, and they were mostly women. And, by the way, how many of those who built and repaired it died is still unknown. But it is known that 600 people worked in the 48th locomotive column. Every third of them died! The role of this branch was clear, and the Germans destroyed it 1200 times and rebuilt it 1200 times. The branch was bombed continuously. And from January 1943 to January 1944, 102 fascist aircraft were shot down over it. That is, every three days one enemy plane shot down over it, and in fact there were non-flying days and even whole non-flying weeks!
Construction of a low-water pile-ice bridge across the Neva near Shlisselburg
Nobody belittles the feat of the driver of the "lorry", which carried their cargo on the ice. But … one train could carry as much cargo as a thousand of these "one and a half".
Everyone knows that the railway needs traffic lights. Especially at night, when all the traffic was going on, since during the day the Germans were firing on the branch. So at night it was regulated by "live traffic lights" - girls who stood along the line and controlled the movement of trains manually. They were on duty for several days. It was difficult to change. And without any shelter, in sheepskin coats and felt boots, well, they gave alcohol in flasks. At least the following fact speaks about the intensity of the line's work: in April 1943 alone, up to 35 trains passed to Leningrad per day. Divide 35 by 24 and see that the trains were moving in an almost continuous flow, one tail to the other.
The driver who carried the train under fire was awarded, received a "prize" - 15 grams of margarine and another pack of cigarettes. None of the "colonists" could even think about touching the contents of the broken wagons lying on both sides of the line: he would have been immediately shot for looting.
It is interesting that the Germans themselves believed that the trains on this branch were driven by criminals-suicide bombers, who, at least "this way, at least that way", but worked on it … yesterday's schoolgirls who came on Komsomol vouchers!
This is how the high-water bridge across the Neva at Shlisselburg looked in February – March.
And finally, the most surprising thing: all these people, who gave their lives for their Motherland, for some reason only (only!) In 1992 were recognized as participants in the Great Patriotic War. Before that, they were somehow unworthy to be considered them. For some reason, this feat itself was not covered in the Soviet press. The railway line was classified, it was forbidden to photograph it and mention it in official reports. Here's how!
The train goes across the bridge.
In 2012 (how many years later?) The documentary “Columnists” was released, and now a feature film “Corridor of Immortality” is being shot about the feat of the workers of this branch. Daniil Granin became the project consultant, and it is hardly necessary to represent him. However, the question arises: why only now? Would 200 new war veterans have ruined the USSR treasury with their benefits? No, probably, most likely, this was due to the dominance of such people as the head of the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army, General Alexei Epishev, who in the 70s of the last century, when asked to give more truthful information about the war, replied: “Who needs your truth if it interferes should we live?"
Museum "Road of Life".
But … but at least now, and maybe quite soon, we will see a feature film no worse than Panfilov's 28, filmed very reliably, with an abundance of location filming in various places and taking into account the real terrain. Anyone can support the project by referring to the information posted on the website of this film.
PS: You can read more about the filming of this film in the article by Elena Barkhanskaya "Train on fire", magazine "Our youth" №19 2016.