The Zaporizhia City History during the WWII

February 25, 2014

Wikipdia Source. Citate

  • The hydro-electric dam, DniproHES

The turning point in the history of the city was the construction of the hydro-electric dam (DniproHES), which began in 1927 and completed in 1932. The principal designer of the project was I. G. Alexandrov(RU), the construction manager – A. V. Vinter(RU), the chief architect – V. A. Vesnin and the chief American advisor – Hugh Cooper. According to the project, the installed generating capacity was 560 megawatts, the length of a convex dam was 760 m, the width was 56 m, the height was 60 m. Eight water turbines and five generators were designed and manufactured in the United States; the other three generators were made at the Leningrad factory Electrosila. As a result of commissioning of the station the Dnieper rapids were flooded and the river became navigable from Kiev to Kherson. In 1980, DniproHES power was increased to 1,388 megawatts.

What happened there during the WWII?

  • German occupation

The war (World War II) between the USSR and Germany began on 22 June 1941. In the USSR this war was called the Great Patriotic War, 1941–1945.

After the outbreak of the war the Soviet government started evacuating industrial equipment from the city to Siberia before the Germans reached the city.[21] The NKVD shot political prisoners in the city.[22] On 18 August 1941, elements of the German 1st Panzergruppe seized the outskirts of Zaporizhia on the right bank and the island Khortytsia.[21][23]

The Red Army blew a 120m x 10m hole in the Dnieper hydroelectric dam (DniproHES) at 16:00 on 18 August 1941, producing a flood wave that swept from Zaporizhia to Nikopol, killing local residents as well as soldiers from both sides.[21] “Since no official death toll was released at the time, the estimated number of victims varies widely. Most historians put it at between 20,000 and 100,000, based on the number of people then living in the flooded areas”.[24] After two days, the city defenders received reinforcements, and held the left bank of the river for 45 days.[21] During this time people dismantled heavy machinery, packed and loaded them on the railway platform, marked and accounted for with wiring diagrams.[21] Zaporizhstal alone exported 9,600 railway cars with the equipment.[21] Zaporizhia was taken on 3 October 1941.[13][25]

The German occupation of Zaporizhia lasted 2 years and 10 days.[21] During this time the Germans shot over 35,000 people, and sent 58,000 people to Germany as forced labour.[21] The Germans used forced labor (mostly POWs) to try to restore the Dnieper hydroelectric dam and the steelworks.[21] Local citizens established an underground resistance organisation in spring 1942.[21]

The DonbassStalingrad and Moscow – Crimea railway lines through Zaporizhia were an important supply line for the Germans in 1942–43, but the big three-arch Dnieper railway bridge at Zaporizhia was blown up by the retreating Red Army on 18 August 1941, with further demolition work done during September 1941.[13] and the Germans did not bring it back into operation until Summer 1943.[26][27] “As a result all goods had to be reloaded and tank-wagons carrying petrol could not go through to the front.”[26]

When the Germans reformed Army Group South in February 1943, it had its headquarters in Zaporizhia. The loss of Kharkiv and other cities caused Adolf Hitler to fly to this headquarters on 17 February 1943, where he stayed until 19 February and met the army group commander Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, and was persuaded to allow Army Group South to fight a mobile defence that quickly led to much of the lost ground being recaptured by the Germans in the Third Battle of Kharkov.[28][29] Hitler visited the headquarters in Zaporizhia again on 10 March 1943, where he was briefed by von Manstein and his air force counterpart Field Marshal Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen.[30][31] Hitler visited the headquarters at Zaporizhia for the last time on 8 September 1943.[32] In mid-September 1943 the Army Group moved its headquarters from Zaporizhia to Kirovograd.[27]

Both big railway bridge over the New Dnieper and the smaller one over the Old Dnieper were damaged in an air raid by a group of 8 Ilyushin Il-2s led by Lieutenant A Usmanov in 21 September 1943.[13]


In mid-August 1943, the Germans started building the Panther-Wotan defence line along the Dnieper from Kiev to Crimea, and retreated back to it in September 1943. The Germans held the city as a bridgehead over the Dnieper, with elements of 40th Panzer and 17th Corps.[33] The Soviet Southwestern Front, commanded by Army General Rodion Malinovsky, attacked the city on 10 October 1943.[33] Whilst the defenders held against the attacks, the Red Army reinforced its troops and launched a surprise night attack at 22:00 on 13 October,[21][34] “laying down a barrage of shellfire bigger than anything… seen to date (it was here that entire ‘divisions’ of artillery appeared for the first time) and throwing in no fewer than ten divisions strongly supported by armour”,[27] the Red Army broke into the bridgehead forcing the Germans to abandon it on 14 October.[21] The retreating Germans destroyed the Zaporizhstal steel plant almost completely;[21] they demolished the big railway bridge again,[27] and demolished the turbine building and damaged 32 of the 49 bays of the Dnieper hydro-electric dam.[21] The city has a street between Ordjonikidzevkij and Zhovtnevyj Districts and a memorial in Zhovtnevyj District dedicated to Red Army Lieutenant Yatsenko(RU) who commanded the tank, which first entered the city; he and his crew were killed in the battle for the city.[21][35]

The Red Army did not recapture the parts of the city on the right bank until 1944.[21]

The rebuilding of the Dnieper hydro-electric dam commenced on 7 July 1944; the first electricity was produced from the restored dam on 3 March 1947.[21]

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