On Sept. 8, 1943, the Soviet Red Army liberated the city of Stalino, today known as Donetsk, from Nazi occupation. The anniversary is celebrated as the Day of Liberation of Donbass throughout the anti-fascist Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which today are defending themselves from an ongoing war by the U.S.-backed government of Ukraine. Since 2014, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict. This report was translated by Struggle-La Lucha’s Greg Butterfield.
Donetsk: On Sept. 8, the Aurora Women’s Club dedicated our meeting to the Day of the Liberation of Donbass. This was a great victory for all Soviet people and especially Soviet women.
Few people know that the liberation of Donbass was carried out by women. In Donetsk, there is a commemorative sign indicating that on this site “grateful descendants erect this monument to the women of Donbass who performed a labor feat in restoring coal mines destroyed during the Great Patriotic War and achieving the pre-war level of coal production.”
We, the Aurora Club and friends, visited this place and brought flowers in gratitude to those workers, who made the Soviet Donbass a prosperous mining region.
A bit of history:
In 1943, when the Donbass was liberated from the Nazi invaders, almost all of its mines were blown up and flooded. Abroad, assessing the extent of the destruction, they predicted that the region would not rise for a long time and would lose its significance for the development of industry and the economy of the Soviet Union. The New York Times wrote: “Donbass is lost. … It will take decades to restore it.”
The restoration of the mines and the revival of coal mining fell on the shoulders of women. Already by 1946, 106 million tons of coal were mined in the Donbass, which is 4 million tons more than the pre-war level of coal production. In honor of this, in 1947, a decree was signed on the establishment of the professional holiday of Miner’s Day, which has been celebrated since 1948.
From 1943 to 1947, up to 80 percent of those who worked underground in the mines of Donbass were women. In total, from 200,000 to 250,000 women worked in the mines during the war and post-war years, respectively. Some 46,300 people were awarded the medal “For the Restoration of Donbass Coal Mines” – more than half of them women.
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