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Port in Great Patriotic War

On the instructions of the General Headquarters on the night of October 16, 1941 the last units of the Odesa defense district and port workers has been evacuated.


Towards evening the enemy approached to the port hoping to capture units of the Red Army that had no time to evacuate. But in the port they found only ruins of buildings and ominous emptiness. Immediately around the port and the city was hung appeal of Romanian command: "Citizens of the city of Odesa ... We advise you not to make unfriendly acts against the army or the officials who have terroristic, espionage or sabotage tasks, as well as those who are hiding weapons. Be careful and obey the measures taken by the military and civilian command... those who do not obey the orders... will be sentenced to be shot. The Commander of the Army Adjutant General I.Yakobich, the Chief of the Staff N.Tataranu" (original text).


On October 17, 1941 Hitler's henchman, the military fascist dictator from Rmania Ion Antonescu declared occupied territories between the Dniester and Southern Bug "native Romanian lands", which form the Transnistria Governorate with the center in Odesa.


Mass arrests, shootings, robberies have begun. "New Order" was based on submachine guns, gibbets and robberies. Indigenous population was given the right to work in the estates of new owners, and those who disagree with a regime - a place at the concentration camps. People were thrown into prison by the Gestapo and police. According to the calculations made by the conquerors, the population of Odesa, before the war totaled 600 thousand people, a year after their occupation the population decreased by 125 thousand people.


Even during the battle for Odesa from the Party and government activists, fighters of assault battalions were created guerrilla units and underground organizations.




However, on the third day of the occupation were arrested the leadership of Lenin and Waterway district committees and related messenger of underground regional committee (RC). It is not surprising that the clandestine activity in the port, in some cases arise independently and even spontaneously, without any orders. Later, the guidance of underground guerrilla movement in the port and the city was restored. Since the beginning of 1942 the Odesa underground RC launched publishing of the bulletin "for the Soviet Motherland." Underground water transport district committee organized a publication of the newspaper "Voice of the people".


Leadership of the underground movement in the port was reopened in two directions: from the regional and district committees of the party and from the staff of the city's largest Stalin guerrilla group (Commander - S.I.Drozdov, Commissioner - D.I.Ovcharenko consisted of 29 groups).


The first who began activity in the port was the underground group "of port seafarers", organized in December 1941, on the instructions of the underground RC by the port engineer Anton Pashchenko. This group consisted of 11 people, mostly employees of the port of Odesa.


Following this group began operating another underground subversive group, led by the dispatcher of the station Odesa-Port Onuphriy Kitsyuk. He was seriously injured while unloading cruiser "Comintern" and had no time to evacuate. Back at the port in December 1941 he became a lone underground partisan. In late 1943, his group joined special groups of Stalin Detachment. Kitsyuk group was very important, as the station Odesa-Port carried mainly transshipment operations from the railway on water and in the opposite direction. It served almost all the branches of the port and a number of ways assigned to individual plants in southern Peresyp.


The Head of the third underground group operating in the port was Peter Zalivchiy. He was a commissioner of one of the regiments that defended Odesa. P.Zalivchy was seriously wounded captured, but soon ran out of it. Under the surname of Miller in March 1942, he got a job as a laborer at the port. In May 1942, he was arrested when trying to communicate with the underground groups. But soon he was liberated for lack of evidences.




In April 1943, he organized a clandestine group of 15 people from the workers of port’s railway. This group did not manage to join the organized underground movement and it operated independently.


Since April 1942 at the warehouses have acted the 4th underground group led by an engineer Mikhail Emelyanov. The group included 13 persons.


The 5th underground group was led by engineer A.Vekker. Since the beginning of the war, he worked in the Black Sea Shipping Company on the position of the Chief Engineer of the Floating Workshops. Due to a serious illness he was not able to evacuate. In late 1941, he got in touch with the urban underground. A.Vekker was engaged in a wide range of works in the port. Under his command from December 1942 operated a group of 10 people, some of whom worked in the port and others has been legalized in the city.


A special place at the port held an intelligence group with a great talent scout Elena Butenko and radio operator N.Zaytseva, which were sent to Odesa in September 1943 by the Soviet command. Before the War, E.Butenko was a tutor a kindergarten and N.Zaytseva was a collective farmer in Bratskiy district Nykolaiv region.


All the activities of underground groups in the port focused on the following main directions:

- Advocacy activity;

- Sabotage and subversive activities;

- Assistance to political prisoners and captive;

- Performing of special tasks from the Command of the Red Army;

- Preservation of the port’s property, port facilities and equipment from destruction.


Almost all guerrilla groups produced leaflets in abundance. The group of Sergei Bushted alone from November 1942 to March 1943 published 37 information sheets "For the Soviet Motherland".


On the instructions of S.Bushtedt plumbers sabotaged recovery wells (well at the root of the New Mole was filled with cobble-stone), repairing of water supply system. As a result, water delivery in the port was carried with great missing. This fact was often a reason of ship delays.


Brigade of the Foreman of building site L.Yakunenko sabotaged recovery of the berths, which were damaged during the defense of Odesa. A year later Romanian administration noticed that the team consisting of 60 persons renovated less than 60 meters of edging. Yakunenko was brought to trial.


Chief Engineer of the tug "Foros" during about two years "repaired" the main propulsion system of the tug. Thereupon he was arrested and tortured.


The list of sabotage and subversive activities of the group of P.Zalivchiy contains:

- Due to an intentional release of the root of railway points the locomotive with 5 wagons was dumped from rail. The wagons were broken, and the grain was mixed with sand;

- Due to an arranged jamming of railway points 10 wagons with iron ore were destroyed as well as 150 meters of the railway line was broken;

- Several wagons with ore were ditched;

- To delay the sending of the ammunition 52 brake hoses were overcut.


Intentional accidents occurred one by one.


For damage done Germans laid claims to Romanian management of the station Odesa Port to the amount of 4 million leu.


Somebody act alone. So, the guard Salata plugged pipelines at grain warehouses and all the bread was damaged with rainwater.


A laborer Skumbriy infected a large grain with pests.


Somebody widen railway points and near the old clock tower 17 rail wagons loaded with grain have derailed.


As a punishment for disobedience and sabotage many port workers were sent to special camps.


In March 1943, there was a failure in work of underground regional committee of the party. 157 people were arrested and put to horrific tortures.


1943 was a turning point in the Great Patriotic War. Due to the defeat of the Germans in Stalingrad and Kursk the enemy finally lost the strategic initiative. In August were liberated Orel, Belgorod, Kharkov. The enemy forces were pushed back from Vladikavkaz to Kherson, from Elista to Krivoy Rog, from Stalingrad to Kiev. The war has entered a stage of complete driving invaders away.


But the agitation and propaganda, sabotage and subversive activities in the city and the port became even more widespread.
With approaching of the Red Army to Odesa the port became exceptionally lively place. Here arrived trains carrying troops and equipment, hospital trains with the wounded soldiers, as well as officials and businessmen with their families and belongings hoping to run to the nearest Romanian ports.


Headquarters of the Stalin Partisan Detachment connected with the command of the 3rd Ukrainian Front, acting in Odesa direction, instructed the group A.Paschenko to collect the necessary information about enemy’s coastal fortifications and fire weapons, about the number of guardians, mining of coast near the port and movement of enemy ships. This job was done on time.




Members of the underground group of O.Kitsyuk relying on the wide masses of helpers launched a lot of work to foil the loading operations. Under the direct supervision of the commander of the guerrilla unit specialized groups A.Loschenko the members of the group organized a series of accidents. For example, at the Oil harbor Romanians prepared to export 473 tanks with gasoline. 50 tanks managed to send, but further supply has been stopped due to an accident organized by the underground locomotive crash on the English railway point. Meanwhile connector Chernyak burned the rest of gasoline.


On March 23, 1944 the Germans government removed the Romanians from the city and port management.


On April 10, 1944 Odesa city was liberated from German troops.