THE HISTORY OF BAM
AFTER THE WAR, BUT BEFORE BAM
THE BIG CITY
THE ART AND SOCIAL LIFE
THE FIRST DECADE. 1975-1985.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS.
THE BREAKING POINT
WHAT'S LACKING IN THE CITY
WOULD YOU LIKE MORE DETAILS?
TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF THE AREA
Tynda (Biased Notes)
BAMlag, an OGPU correctional labor camp, was created on November 10th 1932.That was a second largest organization after Belomorcanal.Its center was in Svobodny.By early 1933 Takhtamygda division alone had 3499 people.By May 1st 1933 BAMlag had 31,515 people, and by January 1st 1934 - 62,130.Naftaly Aronovich Frenkel was appointed as its chief.He was a former construction chief at Belomor-Baltiisk Canal; an outstanding person with a mysterious fate.
He was born in Konstantinopol.Upon completion of the commercial college, he was involved with timber trading and soon became the timber king of the Black Sea.During the WWI, he was an arms dealer, but in 1916, having sensed the trouble, transferred his capital to Turkey and moved there in 1917. During the years of NEP (New Economic Policy) he returned and created a black market exchange for trading gold and precious stones (an assignment from GPU).
In 1927 Frenkel is exiled to Solovki but does not lose his cool.Soon he becomes the chief of the supply division and in a year creates a small facility for leather processing and shoe making.The products were sold in Moscow in prestigious stores that only served nomenclature.In 1929 he is brought by plane to Moscow and after a 3-hour talk with Stalin he was named a chief of the Belomorcanal construction project.Upon the construction completion he was awarded the Order of Lenin.In 1937, being a NKVD general, he was arrested and sent to Lyubanka, but later released and promoted.He worked until 1950s, received a rank of NKVD major general and was a deputy of Kaganovich (Peoples Commissar of Roadways at the time).Frenkel died quietly in his bed.
In 1933 construction of the first line of the First Order had begun: Takhtamygda - Tynda.The first station of BAM was supposed to be Takhtamygda but its location would not allow it to become a major railroad junction.That's why it was decided to determine a new spot.A large gentle slope in the Krestovka river valley (a tribute of Oldoi) was chosen as a new place.This would be the future BAM station.At the moment there were nothing there, only a "green taiga sea" with a temporary construction worker's lodge.
The construction of BAM was conducted from three ends.The main route Tynda -Komsomol'sk was not the priority in this project.Three meridian branches were treated as priority: they were going to be the supplies routes for Takhtamygda - Tynda, Izvestkovy - Ust'-Kimon, and Volochaevka - Komsomol'sk-on-Amur.
Frenkel intensively perfected and rebuilt the camps.By the end of 1934 he made phalanx a main production unit. A phalanx had 250 - 700 persons, was stationed in one place and provided for itself.It was assigned one task at a specific road section.Phalanx reported to the department chief and was separately maintained.
The construction process was using a tested at other sites method.Convicts of the first Takhtamygda and sixth Tynda division were moving towards each other and in 1937 the rails connected.In the same year traffic began on the route.However the construction was done in a simplified manner and a fortification of the railroad base and the bridges was needed.Only in 1941 NKPS (Peoples Commissariat of Roadways) recognized BAM - Tynda line as temporary.
The life of BAMlag was no different from the rest of the country.There were famine, death, labor enthusiasm, competition and its winners.There were saboteurs and "trotskists."Miscalculations and failures immediately were explained as sabotage and mischief.If a crew ran into a solid rock or only could complete the plan for 87% it was considered as sabotage from corrupters and surviving White Guards.If someone needed a reward and a promotion, a simple falsification case like that would do the trick.
One of the cases was called "The Rebels," decoded as "Counter-revolutionary insurrection organization."Everyone interrogated allegedly stated that at the end of 1938 there was going to be an insurrection of the 71st column.And the plan looked like this: disarm the guards, escape the special zone, take over the VOHR weapons warehouses, free the convicts, arm them, start an insurrection at other columns, disarm the NKVD Offices, recruit the infantry corp., take over the city of Svobodny and begin moving towards the border of Manzhow-Go.At the same time they were to free up all the convicts from other camps with a purpose of a full-blown assault on USSR.That's right!And the young Soviet Republic would die from a powerful blow delivered by hungry, sick, frostbitten convicts, armed with VOHR rifles and revolvers.
A mass of people, about 700 convicts for every 10 kilometers of the road, managed to quickly build the railroad to Tynda.Enthusiasts researching the labor camp past of BAM have identified nine camp sites so far in the city's vicinity, however there were a lot more camps -- over 20 phalanxes.In the area of "Zarya" collective farm there was a penalty column.The camp's hospital used to be where the water treatment plant is today.The city's landfill covers up the convicts' burial site.The former camp in Anosovskaya is an open pit mine today.
In June of 1938 BAMlag, having fulfilled its purpose, was reformed.Six large camps were created on its base all under the management of the Far Eastern NKVD Construction and Housing GULAG Agency in Svobodny.By that time forest clear cuts and roadbeds were prepared.
On the eve of WWII, the atmosphere in the world and the Far East was tense.Japan had invaded Korea and Northern China and brought its armed forces close to the border that was near the Trans-Siberian railroad -- the only road linking Central Russia with Siberia and the Far East.Though by that time, thanks to the convicts' efforts, the railroad was a two-way road.However, it could have been cut off in several spots by a Japanese armed assault from across the Chinese border.
In August of 1937 the government made a decision to build Baikal-Amur railroad from Taishet to Soviet Harbor along the whole length of the mainline and the meridian branches.
The realization of construction was assigned to the Peoples Internal Affairs Committee (NKPS).NKPS was responsible of providing BAM with construction plans and estimates and tracking the construction quality and completion.
In a resolution "About the Baikal-Amur railroad construction" in 1938, the construction completion dates of definite road segments were determined as well as the completion of the whole mainline by 1945.BAMtransproject organization was created at that moment (renamed to BAMproject in 1939).It united the efforts of all the surveyors and the draftsmen.In 1938 Fedor Alekseevich Gvozdevsky is named a chief of BAMproject.A task was given to the BAMproject's crew to continue the survey, research and projecting of the mainline, and also to find the most efficient routes.And in a very short time period they had come up with the lines' projects: Komsomol'sk - Soviet Harbor, Taishet - Bratsk - Lena.
I. D. Gaev, being a schoolboy before the WWII, traveled the road connecting Tynda with Transsib.He reminisced that sometime in the middle of the trip they would announce: "Comrades passengers.If you are in a hurry to arrive to BAM station, please take part in firewood stocking.The saws and axes are available for your convenience."Everyone would saw the wood and only then continue the trip.
Then the war began.BAM rails were lifted and transported to Volga manufacturing complex that was supplying the troops during the Stalingrad battles.But still, despite the war, BAM was remembered.On May 21st 1943, GKO (State Defense Committee) made a decision # 3407 to build a railroad from Komsomol'sk to Soviet Harbor.The construction began immediately and by June 15th 1945 the rails connected.A second railroad exit to the Pacific was completed.
After the war, the construction of the main BAM segment was halted (it was not a good time for it), but the Tyndinsky village was alive and well.The traffic on AYH began to get heavier again.Yakut gold and diamonds were coming from there.Food and mechanical supplies were going there.Tyndinsky was an AYH servicing center.But it also was a far away provincial town.