This section is dedicated to the Great Victory and the participation of employees of the Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War. The online «Immortal Regiment» of the industry is also organized here, which will regularly replenish, and all employees of the industry can send information about their relatives who took part in the Great Patriotic War. We invite you to get acquainted with the history of the contribution of surveyors, cartographers, employees of flight survey teams to the Great Victory.
Everything for front, everything for Victory
The attack of Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union required the joint efforts of the Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography and the Military Topographic Service of the Red Army General Staff to provide the Soviet Army with topographic maps, as well as various topographic and geodetic data for combat operations on a huge area stretching from the western borders to the Volga, which was not completely covered by topographic surveys on a scale of 1:100,000 and larger, without which it was impossible to effectively conduct combat operations.
The work of the Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography was rebuilt in a military manner. From the first days of the war, field detachments of the Moscow, North-Western and Southern enterprises, together with units of the Military Topographic Service, following the order of the Chief of the General Staff B. M. Shaposhnikov, began to perform topographic and geodetic works.
A number of aero geodesic enterprises were evacuated to the rear, and its work was launched in a short time at the new location. Due to the great need of the troops for maps, map factories were relocated from the western regions to the east and new ones were created.
There were many map factories in the rear that time. Some of them worked around the clock. The Omsk Cartographic Factory was particularly distinguished for its work during the war period. The factory included part of the evacuated Polygraph Plant named after Molotov from Moscow. First, works related to the defense of the country were carried out; maps were printed for the needs of the Red Army and the Navy. The military representative who was constantly present at the factory accepted these products.
The personnel of the flight-shooting squad of the North-Western aerogeodesic enterprise were mobilized, the material part (planes, hangars, etc.) was transferred to the headquarters of the Leningrad Front.
With the approach of the frontline, the Southern Aerogeodesic Enterprise was evacuated to Uralsk. One of its units until the end of 1941 performed the tasks of the headquarters of the Stalingrad Front. At the end of 1942, the unit was relocated to the city of Guryev and there it conducted work on the territory of the Southern Urals.
The largest base of aerial photography aviation previously located in Moscow, was evacuated to Tashkent to unite with the Tashkent aerial photography detachment of the Central Asian Aerogeodesic Enterprise.
At the aerogeodesic and cartographic enterprises, warm clothes and parcels were collected to be sent to the soldiers. Only at the Novosibirsk Aerogeodesic Enterprise 8 sheepskin coats, 30 pairs of felt boots, 54 pairs of fur mittens and woolen gloves, 113 pieces of underwear, 27 cotton jackets, 15 cotton trousers, 49 blankets and other things were handed over in time for one collection. Already in 1942, the enterprises began raising funds to help the liberated areas of the country that had suffered from the occupation.
Everything was subordinated to the main goal and the main task: «Everything for front, everything for Victory.»
Already at the beginning of 1942, the creation of a 1:100,000 scale topographic map for the territory of the European part of the USSR up to and including the Volga was completed, and from that time the Soviet Army was continuously supplied with the necessary topographic and survey maps of the scale 1:25 000, 1:50 000, 1:100 000, 1:500 000 and 1:1 000 000, reconnaissance maps, as well as special maps. 13 thousand sheets of maps were compiled and about 200 million copies of maps were printed.
At the end of 1941, creation of a new map with the scale of 1:200 000 was launched, the first copies of which were received by the troops in June 1942. This scale was highly appreciated and adopted.
At the same time, for the strategic preparation of the decisive defeat of the enemy, maps for Germany and the countries of Eastern Europe, where military operations were to be conducted after the liberation of their native land, were prepared.
During the war years, more than five million square kilometers, i.e. 30 percent of the country’s territory, were covered by topographic surveys, and 19.6 thousand nomenclature sheets of topographic maps were prepared for publication. Their annual circulation reached hundreds of millions of sheets. In total, more than 930 million copies of various maps were printed.
Along with the needs of the armed forces, a lot of work was done to create a geodetic basis and topographic maps for economically important areas.
The concentration center of specialized topographic and geodetic civil organizations during the war was the city of Novosibirsk. The Novosibirsk Aerophotogeodesic Enterprise Novosibirsk Cartographic Factory worked in the city; it was established in November 1942 based on the Printing Plant named after Molotov, evacuated from Moscow, and the topographical technical school. In addition, in Novosibirsk, the personnel of geodetic professions during the war were trained by the Novosibirsk Institute of Geodesy, Aerial Photography and Cartography, the Novosibirsk State Construction Institute named after v. V. Kuibyshev and the topographic school established in 1940 at the Novosibirsk Aerogeodesic Enterprise.
The largest base of aerial survey aviation, located in Moscow, was evacuated to Tashkent, where it was merged with the Tashkent aerial survey detachment of the Central Asian Aerogeodesic Enterprise.
At the beginning of the war, mobile geodesic and topographic detachments were created at the Central Asian Aerogeodesic Enterprise to conduct work in the regions of Altai, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, in the Northern Karakum Mountains, in the floodplain of the lower reaches of the Amu Darya, in the Tian Shan Mountains. Stone monoliths had to be cut out of the rocks to secure the points of triangulation, in mountain areas massive concrete tours were built, in other areas signs were built from sawn roundwood. All this work was done mainly by hands. As a result, a high-precision planned geodetic framework was created in Central Asia and Kazakhstan.
In the territory of Kazakhstan, Central Asia and Siberia during the war extensive work was carried out to create topographic maps on scales of 1:100 000 and 1:200 000, which were later used for geological exploration and for the development of virgin lands in Kazakhstan.
In 1942, to speed up the mapping of the northern and eastern territories of the country, an aerogeodesic enterprise was established in Yakutsk.
The forces of the evacuated part of the North-Western Aerogeodesic Enterprise actively conducted topographic and geodetic work on the oil fields in the Komi ASSR.
During the entire period of the war, work of creation a map of the USSR territory on a scale of 1:1 000 000 — one of the major projects of Soviet cartography, was continued. The creation of this map was an important stage in the development of the system of national maps of national significance.
Map work on a scale of 1:1 000 000 was completed in 1945, and in 1947 the map was awarded the Great Gold Medal of the Geographical Society of the USSR.
The work season of the State Geodetic Service during the war lasted all year round, people worked in the mud, in the rain and in the cold. In connection with the mobilization of transport in the active army, mainly horse-drawn transport was used.
Thanks to the efforts of military and civilian surveyors and topographers during the period 1941–1945, more than 200 thousand geodetic and artillery points were identified, more than 90 thousand artillery battle lines were linked, and more than half a million aerial photographs of the enemy’s defense were deciphered. Topographic surveys covered an area of 6,740 km2, 6,743 points of triangulation of the 1st and 2nd classes and 7,294 points of the 2nd and 4th classes of filling networks were identified.
During the Great Patriotic War, Soviet surveyors, topographers and cartographers showed genuine heroism, performing their tasks at the front and in the rear.
By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of November 27, 1943, 92 employees of Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography enterprise were awarded with medals for exemplary performance of tasks on the front to provide maps. Subsequently, the number of awarded employees of these enterprises increased significantly.
Many Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography employees who went to the front were injured or killed.