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LC-A Big Book Chapter 46: War and Post-War Years

From September 1941 until January 1944 St Petersburg was besieged by German troops. Hardly anyone or anything could get in or out of the city for around 900 days. lt was one of the harshest times in history for the people of St Petersburg. Food supplies could only be transported under great danger by plane or trucks, which took the route over the frosted Ladoga Lake. The situation became dramatic in 1941, as winter fell unusually early and temperatures dropped to -40° Celsius. ln December 1941 approximately 53,000 people died as a result of starvation and cold.

As it became clear that fascist Germany was preparing for war, the factory received many urgent orders for the production of military optical equipment. Understandably, further development of cinematographic and photographic apparatus was put on hold for the time being. Over 2,500 of the 8,000 workers left GOMZ during the war years, and many of them served at the frontline. ln the hardest years of the war the company was mainly staffed by women and teenagers.

From September 1941 until January 1944 St Petersburg was besieged by German troops. Hardly anyone or anything could get in or out of the city for around 900 days. lt was one of the harshest times in history for the people of St Petersburg. Food supplies could only be transported under great danger by plane or trucks, which took the route over the frosted Ladoga Lake. The situation became dramatic in 1941, as winter fell unusually early and temperatures dropped to -40° Celsius. ln December 1941 approximately 53,000 people died as a result of starvation and cold. Even though many workers of LOMO PLC left the company to serve on the front lines, the crew of the important factory remained together. Many labourers slept directly in the workshops on folding beds and worked day by day to serve the military with optical sights. Rumour has it that during the hard times of 1941 the workers burned several hundred of the factory’s own “Sport” cameras — as these models were made out of wood and burning them was the only way to prevent freezing to death in the ice cold Russian winter. Moreover, many employees carried out repair and mechanical operations directly on the frontline and serious repairs were conducted during combat on ships, such as the “October Revolution”, the “Marat” and the “Petropavlovsk”.

As soon as the war was over, normal production was taken on again and the most prosperous years for the company were about to come. The first and most important post-war job for GOMZ was the output of universal measuring microscopes. The company had to move at quite a fast pace, as another company had already been producing these kind of devices for 10 years and was way ahead in its development…it was, of course, good old German Karl Zeiss, who was once again an itching little thorn in the flesh of the ambitious Russians. Nevertheless, the factory at Chugunnaya Street successively became a brewing pot of optical goods, and hundreds of new products from microphotometers, motion picture projectors, photocameras and spectrographs were established in the years from 1945 to 1960.

Have the full glory of the book here

written by ungrumpy

1 comment

  1. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    Why are we not calling St. Petersburg Leningrad for this time in history?? That 900 day blockade was the Siege of Leningrad then!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam

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