Behind the Ural Mountains, Kurgan – Miass & Chelyabinsk in West Siberia, Russia
|Zis-5 at the Miass factory|
On one of our journeys we ended up behind the Ural Mountains in Russia.
At this spot the Russians relocated their industry in 1941. Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia was in full progress when this industrial exodus started. Entire factories were stripped and moved to the east behind the Ural Mountains and build back up again. Far out of range of the German bombers which participated in the Russian campaign in those days.
Kurgan, near Omsk (±500km to the south – east), or Yekaterinburg (±400km to the north –east), was one of these places that had a blooming industry during the war, and still profits from the relocation of factories nowadays.
Even today, tracked army vehicles are build in large numbers in the city of Kurgan, Misaa still holds a big truck plant and Chelyabinsk still has his tractor factory.
On one of the entrance roads to the city, there is a big roundabout. In the centre is a T34-85 on display. Almost in every major city in Russia you will find a T34 on display, it’s a national symbol for the victory in World War Two.
In the small victory park in the city of Kurgan are some artillery pieces. And a memorial with the names of the fallen, all from the city of Kurgan.
|Kurgan victory park|
During the war German prisoners of war were transported behind the Ural Mountains, some ended up far away in Gulags in eastern Siberia, some ended up just behind the Ural Mountains.
As is the case with a few that ended up in Kurgan.
The location of the Gulag, or prisoner’s camp, is unknown to me, but the prisoners had to work for the Soviet state.
In Kurgan they made a few apartment buildings with still exist today.
About 3 or 4 buildings were created by the prisoners in the years after the war.
We left Kurgan and travelled to Chelyabinsk, on the way we stopped at the city of Miass.
Miass holds the Ural factory, a truck plant with the same name as the mountain ridge. The Zis-5 lorry was build here in the years of World War Two.
The Zis-5 was first created at the Zis factory in Moscow from 1933 on, facing the German army the plant was relocated as well. More than one factory produced the lorry. One of these locations was in Miass, later on the factory changed its name to Ural.
It was an almost identical copy of the American “Autocar” model CA truck (Autocar is a company name).
The lorry was of vital importance for the Russian army. During the war year about 83000 of the Zis-5 lorries were produced, it was used on all fronts.
There was strange vehicle on a train when we got back at the train station. I was in a hurry so unfortunately the photo is blurred. It looks like a T34 undercarriage with a superstructure from a truck, especially made for the Russian arctic environment (See photo set 2, the red truck like vehicle).
After Miass we hit the road again and headed for Chelyabinsk in Russia as well. We hoped to visit the tractor plant over there.
|T34-85 in Kurgan|
The common base for tank production in the early years were tractor factories. We wanted to see a factory that, together with other factories in the region, created the T34. Unfortunately it was a Russian holiday on our arrival and the plant was closed. We left the closed location and turned to the memorial park in Chelyabinsk.
Next to a huge memorial are some vehicles to be seen in the park. The vehicles are not all from the Second World War. I guess they range from the 1930s to the 1980s.
A T55 tank and a Katyusha truck are both from modern days.
The only two World War Two objects here are the Zis-5 (another one) and D44. This D44 is an 85mm Puska, or cannon in English.