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77 years ago the siege of Leningrad was completely lifted

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© Форпост Северо-Запад

The Great Patriotic War was one of the most tragic and at the same time heroic pages of the city's history.

Artillery barrages and bombardments, the terrible thirty-degree cold and the lack of any food except 125 grams of bread made from food pulp, oilcake, and wallpaper dust. Such inhumane conditions left little or no chance that Leningrad, surrounded by the Nazis, would survive.

Nevertheless, despite the colossal sacrifices, the civilians who had remained in the enemy's ring continued to fight. They worked at factories for 12-14 hours, often sleeping directly in the shops so as not to waste their last energy on the way home, but did not surrender.

A huge contribution to the defense of the city on the Neva was made by teachers and students of the Mining Institute, who in the summer of 1941 joined the militia and built fortifications near Leningrad, and after the blockade began to produce grenades for the front and were sabotage work behind the German lines.

On September 13, 1941 a partisan detachment of students and teachers of the Mining Institute was sent behind the German lines. Of the 35 rangers, only 17 returned to Leningrad three months later.

The invention of Professor Alexander Kuznetsov stands out among the achievements of the institute scientists of that time. He and a group of co-authors proposed to the military a new explosive substance "Sinal" (Si N Al), created on the basis of aluminum-silicon mixture. Cambrian clay, which was abundant in the city and its suburbs, was used as an active additive. With ammunition in short supply, this innovation was a real scientific breakthrough.

The simplicity of the technology made it possible to set up mass production of ammunition in the city as early as August. At the Mining Institute, there were two workshops daily producing more than two tons of explosives and every tenth grenade for the Leningrad front. In this regard, the institute became one of the main targets of the Germans. Already by the middle of the war, all buildings here were destroyed to one degree or another. And on February 24, 1942, the first workshop of special production was destroyed by a direct hit of a landmine.

Meanwhile, the Leningrad Mining Institute was officially located in Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Oblast. It was there that the most valuable equipment and museum collections were evacuated. It was there that some of the students, who, in spite of everything, continued to carry out laboratory work and course projects aimed primarily at replenishing the resource base of the USSR. After all, the country badly needed additional amounts of raw materials for armament production, and, subsequently, for reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by the Nazis.

A special place among the practical research of the representatives of the Mining institute was occupied by research related to geophysical methods of mineral exploration. For example, senior students carried out electrical surveying work at the Botogol graphite deposit in the Eastern Sayany Mountains and revealed there new large deposits.

"Graphite is the big brother of hard coal. But while coal served as fuel, adding graphite in small doses to molten steel dramatically increased its strength. Due to the logging (electrical prospecting of minerals - ed.) our country during the Great Patriotic War obtained a new source of graphite for high quality armor steel for tanks," says Vitaly Vedernikov, deputy director for science of the Mining Museum.

The miners who returned from evacuation after the end of the siege faced a dismal picture. Not a single intact building remained on the campus of the institute. The institute was irretrievably deprived of more than three thousand square meters of its premises, while the rest required major repairs.