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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

Science in Krasnoyarsk during the war years

7 May 2020 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

Красноярск научный в военные годы
The war years laid the foundation for the emergence of academic science in Krasnoyarsk. The pedagogical institute became the cradle of big science in the city. This happened owing to the talent and determination of one person - Leonid Vasilyevich Kirensky.

Before the war there were only two higher educational institutions in Krasnoyarsk - the Institute of Forestry established in 1930, and the Pedagogical Institute which appeared three years later. When the war began, most of the teachers went to the front to fight. For example, 536 people from the Institute of Forestry joined the Red Army. But those who stayed in the city managed to organize the educational process in such a way that universities continued to train specialists. The structure of scientific research was also rebuilt - areas of military importance became a priority.

As early as in 1942, a medical institute was founded in Krasnoyarsk on the basis of the evacuated Voronezh and Leningrad Dental Institutes. An invaluable contribution to its formation was made by the talented surgeon Valentin Felixovich Voyno-Yasenetsky, Bishop Luke. From the very first days of the war, Voyno-Yasenetsky, being in exile in the village of Bolshaya Murta, came to the leadership of the area center and offered his experience and knowledge to treat the wounded. He was appointed the leading surgeon of the evacuation hospital No. 1515, where he performed complicated operations and delivered lectures to students. For scientific development of new surgical methods for the treatment of purulent diseases and injuries, Valentin Felixovich was awarded the Stalin Prize, which he donated to the fund to help orphans of the Great Patriotic War.

It was the war years that laid the foundation for the emergence of  academic science in Krasnoyarsk. The Pedagogical Institute became the cradle for big science in the Krasnoyarsk Region. This happened thanks to the talent and determination of one person - Leonid Vasilyevich Kirensky. A young Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences came to the Pedagogical Institute according to the staff distribution after graduating from the graduate school at Moscow State University in September 1940. He turned out to be the first physicist in the city, a Candidate of Science, who passionately wanted to organize scientific research.

“In just six months, he created a small, hopeful team of physicists, inspired them for scientific creativity, becoming the guide of its development. Immediately, contacts were established with industrial enterprises of the city, for example, with the electrical department of a steam-locomotive repair plant, whose engineers and workshop managers reacted to the requests of the scientific department’s employees with attention and understanding. In two basement rooms reserved for the future scientific laboratory, equipment and necessary materials were gradually accumulating, ”says Irina Samsonovna Edelman, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Professor, Chief Researcher at the L.V. Kirensky Institute of Physics of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS.

Encouraged by his first success, Leonid Vasilievich wrote a letter to the Department of Science of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks in May 1941: “In September 1940, I was sent to the city of Krasnoyarsk at the Pedagogical Institute to work as the head of the Physics Department. Upon arrival in Krasnoyarsk, it became clear to me that in connection with the transformation of the city of Krasnoyarsk into an industrial center of Siberia and the Far East, there is a need to create a magnetic laboratory. To this end, I organized a seminar on ferromagnetism for researchers of the Physics Department, ordered a number of devices, including a powerful electromagnet, which was manufactured at the end of April 1941. However, to launch the magnetic laboratory, a number of instruments and materials are required that the Pedagogical Institute cannot buy.
I ask for assistance in organizing a magnetic laboratory at the Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical Institute. The employees of the Physics Department cannot start their dissertation work without this equipment.”

However, the Great Patriotic War made adjustments to the plans of Kirensky. In the early years of the war, more than 150 teachers and students of the Pedagogical Institute were drafted into the army, 37 of them were killed on the battlefields. However, studies at the institute were not interrupted for a single day. During the war, a military hospital was located in the educational building. Only basements were available for the institute staff: two of them were occupied by the Kirensky magnetic laboratory, and in the third one there was a shooting range.

Even before the war, Leonid Vasilievich was thinking about organizing the applied research at the Department, but circumstances forced them to intensively and urgently deal with it. In August, the first trains with the equipment of evacuated enterprises as well as the first military sanitary trains began to arrive in Krasnoyarsk. The ship repair plant which in 1941 housed aircraft repair workshops of the Tula Aviation Plant, producing spare parts for bomber aircraft SB and DB-3M, and later the “flying boats” LL-143, received several wagons with steel of various grades. It was urgent to sort it. They turned to the Pedagogical Institute with a request to help in this work. In a short time, a simple device was made, based on the previously known aircraft steel sorter.

Work at the plant was completed - steel went into production, but research continued. In June 1942, a more advanced steel sorter was manufactured. A month later, Leonid Kirensky and Viktor Bashurov proposed a method and developed a device for sorting rivets according to two different steel grades. The new thermoelectric steel sorter was more compact, more productive and gave results that completely coincided with chemical analysis data.

In the review of the specialists of the plant where the tests were carried out, on July 14, 1942, the official name “Magnetic Laboratory of the Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical Institute” appeared for the first time. Leonid Vasilievich himself believed that the birth of the laboratory took place in January 1942, and its first result was not a scientific article, but specific applied work - a device which was necessary for the defense industry of the country.
No sooner had the plant sorted the steel, as military representatives found rivets of aluminum alloys of different grades on the finished wings of aircraft. And again, the chief engineer of the plant Peter Smirnov asked Kirensky to provide urgent help. Having entrusted the routine work to his colleagues, Kirensky, together with Bashurov, began to design the necessary device, which was based on the scheme of the known device developed at the All-Russian Institute of Aviation Materials before the war.

“Kirensky and Bashchurov worked for several days without leaving the plant. Thanking the physicists for their selfless help, the chief engineer proposed Leonid Vasilyevich to make out an invoice, and was surprised at the tiny amount that the scientist indicated. Having appreciated the work performed and knowing what the researchers of the magnetic laboratory needed, the administration of the plant provided the laboratory with the necessary devices and materials,” says Irina Samsonovna Edelman.

The fame about the developments of the researchers of the magnetic laboratory reached other plants and factories in the country. The Pedagogical Institute began to receive orders for the manufacture of devices from the Krasnoyarsk Combine, Irkutsk Aviation Plant and other enterprises. For the help to the industry of the country in the wartime, the Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical Institute received financial support from the executive committee of the Regional Council for purchasing the necessary equipment for the magnetic laboratory.

All the employees of the Physics Department who went through the war returned to the laboratory and continued research, which ultimately led to the creation of the first academic institute in Krasnoyarsk, that was the Krasnoyarsk State University (now the Federal University) and, finally, to the creation of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center.