After a government commission declassified documents in the Kazakh President’s archive, including those dating back to wartime, we can for the first time see the previously unknown pages of Kazakhstan’s history.
According to the documents, some 1.5 million people were mobilized and drafted into the Red Army and for work in industry in Kazakhstan in the period from the start of war until February 1945. Five military guards formations successfully fought the enemy on the fronts. They included the 316th Rifle Division (later 8th Panfilov Guards), 38th Division (73rd Stalingrad Guards), 29th Division (72nd Krasnodar), 238th Division (later 30th Guards), 75th Rifle Brigade (later 3rd Guards Brigade of the 312th Rifle Division formed in Aktyubinsk), it was given the name of Smolensk.
Moreover, Kazakhstan sent a number of other military formations to the front, including national: a cavalry division was formed in Ust-Kamenogorsk, a separate rifle brigade in Alma-Ata, a separate rifle brigade in Aktyubinsk, a cavalry division in Dzhambul, a cavalry division in Akmolinsk. Overall, for the years of war, Kazakhstan’s military enlistment offices sent to the frontline 14 rifle and cavalry divisions, 7 brigades, one antiaircraft regiment, 12 construction battalions and 2 mobile battalions.
A separate important page in Kazakhstan’s heroic chronicle was the reception and accommodation of people evacuated defense plants, factories, as well as cultural and educational establishments during the war. Refugees started arriving in the first month of the war. The first trains with equipment for evacuated plants and factories were launched immediately.
As of January 1, 1942, more than 380,000 people arrived in Kazakhstan. They were distributed among collective farms and production facilities. Temporary accommodations were built 24/7. The educational establishments evacuated to Kazakhstan included the All-Union Cinematography Institute, the Kharkov University, the Moscow Energy Institute, Moscow’s Aviation, Mining, Legal, Geological Prospecting Institutes, the Kharkov Military Academy and Air Force Training School, as well as 11 scientific and research institutes from Moscow, Zaporozhye, Simferopol, Odessa and Kharkov.
Kazakhstan started manufacturing defense products as 19 defense plants from the Soviet Union’s western regions were evacuated to the republic. Despite the severe winter, in 1.5-3 months after their arrival they started manufacturing products for the frontline.
A total of 13,130 trucks, 107 special vehicles, 825 cars, 57 motorcycles, 1,538 tractors, 110,118 horses and 10,260 carriages were sent to the Red Army in the same period. Sharing the fate of the entire nation, Kazakh families suffered privations during the war. Though people lived from hand to mouth and worked from dawn to dusk, they gave away all they had to help the front. And this assistance increased from year to year. Archives say: as of December 21, 1941, the Kazakhs sent to the defense fund 52,354,000 rubles; in April 1942, they sent 95,315,000 rubles. People freely gave 2,970 kilograms of gold, 372 kg of silver, 640 kg of platinum. Those who had no valuables gave away the agricultural products they had.
Warm clothes for Red Army soldiers were also gathered. As of mid-1942, 1,335,000 various items of clothes were dispatched to the front, including 79,587 short fur coats, 232,244 felt boots, more than 32,000 mittens and 1,205 railroad cars of different presents: jerked and stewed meat, sausage, fat, butter, tinned meat and fish, wine, vodka, tobacco, cigarettes, confectionery, dried bread. Kazakh nationals were glorious for their active efforts to collect money to build the tank columns Kazakh Collective Farm Worker, Kazakh Miner, Kazakh Metallurgy Worker, Kazakh Oil Worker, air squadrons Kazakh Komsomol, etc. People were united by the same thoughts, compassion, and one goal – to withstand all trials while supporting each other and to win at any cost.