In 1991, when the Kuibyshev was renamed Samara, a building in the city center was opened to the public, which for half a century was known only to a handful of people. This building was Stalin’s bunker, which was the deepest structure created during the Second World War, today when foreign tourists come to Samara, this facility has become a very popular destination.
Stalin’s secret bunker was built in Samara so that he would be protected if Moscow fell to the German Army. It built not only to house Stalin but the Soviet government, The Central committee of the CPSU, and 22 missions if they needed to be evacuated from Moscow. Samara (Kuibyshev) was to become the official capital of the Soviet Union had this occurred. It was also considered to become the base from which all military operations would have been dispersed since it sat at a good strategic point on the Volga river. The building itself was disguised as an Apartment building as to not attract attention.
Stalin’s bunker in Samara is considered the most secretive of all now declassified bunkers.
The bunker itself is an amazing feat of engineering for its time, the overall depth of the structure was 37 meters, the height of a 12 story building. When comparing it with Hitler’s bunker in Berlin at 16 meters, Churchill’s shelter being below ground only two floors, and Roosevelt’s also descended two levels. This was the first of its type of underground construction earlier, to this it had never occurred anywhere else in the world.
The giant “hole” for this structure was excavated in less than 9 months of non-stop day and night work. In the bunker was a stand-alone air regeneration system which had its own power. Even today all this is still in excellent working order. The Bunker itself has kept its integrity and is designed for full autonomy for five days. The once-secret multi-story building is also equipped with elevators. The lowest floor was a meeting room that held 115 people. Next – was a recreation room, especially designed for Stalin. On the upper floors were rooms for security guards, warehouses, and logistics services. The bunker itself could withstand a direct hit by the largest aviation bombs of that time. The over all construction of the walls and ceiling were monolithic poured concrete, each being three meters thick, with a sandy layer and then another 3 meter concrete “mattress” on top of that.
The main issue of concern to all those who might have come to dwell in the structure: Was Stalin himself there? According to official data, during the war he had never housed here. It’s become a part of an urban legend that the leader of the Soviet Union would never even think of leaving Moscow. However, this assertion is now being questioned by many historians. It is no longer a secret that only a few blocks from the bunker were Stalin’s daughter living quarters, Svetlana had been evacuated from Moscow to Samara to keep her safe. According to some reports, it was during the bombing of Moscow several times it was decided to move her close to the bunker. Stalin was a father that loved his daughter and could have easily seen her in Kuibyshev and she even could have gone to his bunker as well.
The bunker was erected best specialists of the country of that time, this also included the Moscow metro builders and Donbass miners and ordinary workers who were involved. The underground structure had become a miniature copy of the Moscow metro station “Airport”. Those who participated in the construction were 2,900 workers, 800 engineers and technicians. Of all those who were involved in the building of the bunker the only ones who were known where the chief engineer of the project YS Ostrowski, Chief Architect, MA Zelenin and chief geomarksheyderskih I.I.Drobinin. All the others involved have remained nameless. Everyone involved swore not to disclose state secrets, which in Russia has no statute of limitations. Therefore, even the residents living near building in the city had no idea what was going on behind the high fence during construction. The soil was taken out via trucks at night. The builders themselves almost never left the compound, they ate in the dining room which was built inside the walls, and the workers spent the night in a hostel in the yard or within other areas inside the enclosure. The work itself was done around the clock in two shifts. It took less than a year to remove 25,000 cubic meters of soil, and lay 5,000 cubic meters of concrete.
Most of the visitors to the bunker have questioned the fate of those who built this building. Many believe the theory that all the construction workers where shot once the bunker was complete. However, so far as bold as this assertion is no evidence of any kind has ever been found to support this.
The scheme of Stalin’s Bunker.
The scheme StalinaObekt bunker is situated beneath the present-day Academy of Culture and Arts, which previously housed the Kuibyshev Regional Committee. When you enter the building and turn to the right of the main staircase in the lobby of the provincial party committee headquarters was located an inconspicuous door where a NKVD officer was on duty around the clock. It is from behind this solid Iron door, that one of the biggest war-time secrets to have come out of World War II.
Behind the first door is the upper deck, from which the descent into the bunker runs into the elevator, and on-wall stairs. We get to the bottom of 14-meter shaft which connects to a long cross-floor corridor that is home to life-support machines and the auxiliary machinery bunker. If necessary, the upper floor was covered with an extremely massive steel plate capable of withstanding pressures up to 10 tons per square meter.
In the middle of the corridor leading to the emergency exit, the entrance to the main part of the tank – the vertical trunk of refuge, stretched into the depths of the earth for another 23 meters. There started a replica which was taken from the metro system of digging tunnels vertically. It was from this wide jaw, which highlighted the interior stairwell, which has blown a cool upward breeze for over half a century.
After descending all 192steps, we get finally to the deepest part or lowest floor. Once you have reached this destination you will notice under your feet, light emanating from under glass block tiles that has been laid as a floor to walk on.
It is here we enter into the holy of holies – the recreation room of Stalin. Vysokosvodnaya – above chetyrehKabinet Stalin meters – this was the stylized Kremlin office of the leader, it had parquet flooring, oak paneling on the walls, a massive table with green cloth, a lamp with a white shade, wall sconces and a symbol of comfort and peace. There also stood a sofa with a white cover, so reminiscent of the shroud. Portraits of the two most revered Stalin generals of this time, Suvorov and Kutuzov hung on the walls.
From here we move into the meeting room of the government, then after traveling through a narrow tunnel which twists and turns and leads us though semicircular working rooms we find ourselves in a rather large room with a huge T-shaped table; along it sides where a long table for stenographers which sat with their backs to the speaker, never seeing his face. In a corner close to the entrance were tables for the bodyguards and the personal secretary of the leader Poskrebysheva.
In his personal quarters architects tried to create a sense of deep underground heavenly space. It was for this purpose, that in Stalin’s room things were arranged along the walls that would simulate windows, each draped in a sky-blue silk. When entering the conference room the vaults seen are similar to the ones used in the Moscow subway station “Airport style” with their fan-shaped pattern, which, according to the architect, symbolized the parachute lines: because they where at a depth of 37 meters below ground they wanted the members of the government to feel like the domes were more like concrete “parachutes” giving an airy feeling.
Museum “Stalin’s Bunker.”
For tourists, including foreign ones, “Stalin’s bunker” – has become one of the most interesting attractions of Samara. In reviews about the bunker which has come from all different languages, including Swahili and Hebrew. It has been the Germans and Americans who have enjoyed descending into the history of Stalin’s Bunker the most. When the son of Field Marshal Rommel, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart, who was visiting Samara, was offered to be photographed at the table of Stalin, he politely declined. “I’m afraid – he joked – that I will get lost in there. ”
Typically at the museum “Stalin’s Bunker” guided tours can be arranged for groups of 20-30 people. Individual tourists can join the group when they pre-book a seat with the help of a travel company.