80 years later: TAIF Group recreates desk calendar for 1941

The original calendar is carefully stored in Military Glory museum of Neftekhimik search party

About accomplishments in the industry and agriculture, the development of education and health care systems, history of the Homeland, about heroes and plans for the next years. What did people who lived in the Soviet Union laugh at, strive for and dream about welcoming the last peaceful New Year before the great and horrible war? 80 years later, TAIF Group presents our contemporaries a chance to learn the events in 1941 and is preparing to print a recreated calendar that was sent to the printer on 19 December 1940.

Returning history

“Dear friend,

Exactly 80 years ago, in remote December 1940, citizens of our huge country were preparing for the most long-awaited and favourite holiday like we are doing today. The year 1941 was ahead: beautiful New Year trees were shining in homes and flats, there was a New Year buzz outdoors, the atmosphere of holiday was reigning everywhere, people were buying toys, lights, sweets to place on the table, they were making presents. Everybody was wishing happy new year to each other, children were wished good marks, adults were wished health, success at work and hoped all wishes would come true...

You are holding a desk calendar that was sent to the printer on 19 December 1940. The calendar as well as today’s calendars includes a list of memorable and jubilee days, useful tips, information about the country’s population, plans for the development of the economy and peaceful construction in the new year 1941. Opening the new calendar smelling of fresh ink, nobody could even imagine that everybody’s life would soon be divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’ to the whistle of falling bombs and groan of the earth because of shell bursts... Several months later, the Brown Plague would cross the borders and the Great Patriotic War would begin.”

The reprinted calendar, that’s to say, a word-by-word recreated copy of the desk calendar whose original version is carefully stored in Military Glory museum of Neftekhimik search party, opens with this address to the reader from Director General of TAIF JSC, Board Chairman of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Ruslan Shigabutdinov and Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Ayrat Safin.

Today it is not only a collection of dates and numbers but also a historical document — a witness of events drawing a line between still peaceful 1940 and early 1941, which was full of glittering hopes and ambitious plans. It is the plans that were not doomed to become a reality. “The new 1941 changed everybody’s fates, covered childhood with blood and cleaned it with tears, made many boys and girls’ lives shorter, destroyed rosy dreams of yesterday’s school graduates who went to the front directly from a graduation ball. They wanted to live, go home, study, work, love but closed the inimical firing ports, burnt in tanks, died from bullets and shells, accepted a martyr’s death in concentration camps,” the managers of TAIF GC and Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC address today’s generation.

One can try to imagine people who opened this calendar for the first time in remote 1941. Who were they? Workers of big plants? Stakhanov supporters of the energy sector? Highly productive workers of actively developing chemical factories? Public farm workers? Teachers? Militaries? They were ordinary people who believed in bright and cloudless tomorrow.

To Soviet man

What were residents of our country interested in in the early 1940s? The same things our contemporary is interested in: the history of humankind since ancient times and till now, the development of society in general and the way political and economic processes in the motherland took place. Answers to all these questions can be found on pages of the calendar. A fundamental and significant calendar with more than 270 pages like the state approach to the country’s development itself is a result of work of a serious creative group that tried to consider the needs of a huge audience — the world’s largest country by area.

The calendar contains information about “great anniversary and all people’s revolution-related holidays”, a story about novelties of that time in science and medicine, the explanation for changes in legislation adopted in 1940 that was coming to an end. It also has biographies of leaders of the revolution and managers of the country, worldwide known engineers and scientists, writers, poets, composers, stories about artists and novelties of the upcoming theatre and cinema season.

The pages dedicated to a healthy lifestyle read: “Sport, gymnastics, sports games, tourism, alpinism in the Soviet Union are tools to develop the physique and will and get stronger. Soviet sport is one of the most active ways to boost your health, cheerfulness, improve workers’ health, train them to protect the socialistic homeland”. It is also said here about the GTO sports training programme, which already covered over 4 million people in the country, the calendar provides information about the results to get the grades.

The calendar also familiarises people with the basics of Marxism-Leninism and answers questions about communist education of society. It also includes practical tips to bring up children, organise schoolchildren’s day as well as on new opportunities of the public education system.

Soviet people were concerned about the situation around the world too. Not only the economic situation but also political. The Second World War was already rampaging in Europe, and it was important for Soviet people to know how strong the country’s defence was. And the calendar told them in detail about the types of troops, development of the army and navy, tactics and strategy of taking military actions and construction of fortified areas, heroes of the past centuries and the new era: a bit more than a year passed since the foundation of the USSR’s highest award — Gold Star medal of the Hero of the Soviet Union and six months since the approval of the title Hero of Socialistic Labour.

By the way, the law on general military service and a decree establishing an 8-hour working day were adopted precisely in 1940. The calendar also provides the main information about the Soviet Country’s economic geography: the geographical situation of the Soviet Union, its borders and closest neighbours, description and characteristics of the republics that were part of the USSR, natural wealth and achievements of the country.

For the Homeland’s good

And there were enough achievements. The country covered a long road of development after the revolution in 1917 and the end of the Civil War: large-scale re-equipment of plants and factories the country inherited from the Russian Empire, the construction of new enterprises, reform of the agricultural sector, the recreation of the education system and health care. It was already said about the necessity of improving workforce productivity and the necessity of quality professional staff training.

Stalin’s third five-year plan was to end by 1942. “The third five-year plan requires an integrated use of natural resources (coal, oil, metal, water, forest and so on) every krai, every oblast, every region has. The correct performance of this task is due to repeatedly increase the production of all types of products and facilitate the regions’ economic development,” the calendar reads. And words of the leader of the planet’s largest country are cited: “We don’t have or almost don’t have old factories with their obsolete equipment,” Comrade Stalin said at the party’s 18th session, “and old households with their antediluvian equipment. Now new, modern equipment is in the foundation of our industry and agriculture”.

After that, it is said about new plans to expand capacities in the metallurgical and mechanical engineering sectors, power engineering, production of industrial commodities per capita, development of the oil and chemical sectors.

The accents in chemical industry 80 years ago are the same today

It is noteworthy that in late 1940, the importance and same issues and areas were tabled at state level as today. Noting the significance of the development of metallurgy, light industry and agriculture, the management of the Soviet Union set a task of raising oil production and chemical plants at an outstripping pace. The third five-year plan even got a status as “five years of chemistry”. One of the key roles in these processes was attributed to the Volga region.

“Soviet geologists discovered the oil map of the USSR in a new way. The whole country is full of oil from the north to south and from the east to west... Comrade Stalin was the first to see this as an opportunity to create a new oil base in the country’s heart and on an area between the Volga and the Urals. So this is how the idea of a second Baku was born,” the calendar reminds its readers and notes: “The 18th session of the party ruled (and this rule was added to the plan of the third five years): “To consider the creation of another powerful oil base somewhere between the Volga and the Urals by building oil refineries with a capacity of 6 million tonnes a decisive task in the third five-year plan.”

The huge importance of developing the chemical industry for the country’s industrial and economic development is noted: “The chemical industry manufactures fertilisers for fields, artificial (synthetic) rubber, rubber goods, synthetic fibre, plastics, sulphuric acid, etc. Our country is very rich in feedstock for chemical production: oil, metallic ores, potash, phosphate, etc. Also, the chemical industry actively uses water, air (nitrogen and oxygen are made from it), coking by-products, gases emitted from blast furnaces, open hearth furnaces, fume, etc. Tsarist Russia almost didn’t have the chemical industry except for the production of rubber goods (from imported rubber) and sulphuric acid. In the USSR, the development of chemical production of the country became one of the crucial economic tasks.”

Some of these tasks began to be performed before the Great Patriotic War. A number of key plants had to be put into operation amid the war to provide the country’s defensive capabilities — in the toughest 40s. Some of the projects marked as priorities as early as the 1940s came to the light only today. The calendar particularly stresses: “Thanks to chemical methods, a lot of production residues that didn’t use to be utilised became valuable feedstock to make key products. The production of liquid fuel from low-grade solid fuel (for instance, brown coal) by the latter’s hydrogenation, that’s to say, through a reaction with hydrogen at a high temperature and pressure. Of course, the latter is impossible only if special equipment that isn’t damaged at a significantly higher temperature and pressure is used. This is why special steel, fire bricks and similar materials are used to manufacture state-of-the-art chemical equipment. The use of the indicated novelties will allow “creating the production of liquid fuel by hydrogenating solid fuel... (from a resolution of the 18th session of the party in V. Molotov’s report)”

To know and remember

The tasks marked as topical and important in 1940 are still significant and performed for the good of modern-day Russia by the current generation. And it is one of the many reasons why the management of TAIF Group decided to reprint the calendar that came to the light for the first time exactly 80 years ago. In their address to the reader, Director General of TAIF JSC and Board Chairman of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Ruslan Shigabutdinov and Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Ayrat Safin note:

“Dear friend,

We treat the history of our country with profound respect and reverence, revere the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for our common peaceful future, who forged the Victory in the home front, spared no effort and health, who raised the country from ruin. This is why we decided to recreate the calendar for 1941 and give you a chance of getting closer to the events that happened 80 years ago, to learn the huge country cared about and what it strived for in the last peaceful New Year before the great and horrible war.

When you turn the last page of this calendar, don’t hasten to put it on a shelf, save it together with your family relics. And when years pass, hand this memorable calendar over to your children and grandchildren so that they will also know and remember what price was paid for our happiness to live without war”.

By Arseny Favstritsky