Richard Overy

Forbidden City

Tankograd – The Formation of a Soviet Company Town: Cheliabinsk

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The city of Cheliabinsk, deep in the Russian Urals, was one of the closed cities of the Soviet Union to which all foreigners were denied entry. In the 1930s it housed a giant tractor factory, the heart of the modernisation of the backward Russian countryside; during the Second World War the factory was turned over to the mass production of Soviet medium and heavy tanks (which earned it the sobriquet ‘Tankograd’); after the war nearby townships hosted some of the vital new installations for the Soviet atomic programme. In a country notable for its fear of enemies, such a city was understandably out of bounds.

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