1941 - 1945

The fate of Leningrad’s residents changed with the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War on June 22, 1941. Many people left the city, either by enlisting in the military or the People's Volunteer Army, or by following evacuated enterprises and institutions inland. Those who stayed to defend the city set about building fortifications around its perimeter, preparing bomb shelters, and mastering the basics of civil defense. The enemy reached Leningrad in September 1941, cutting it off from the rest of the country. The blockaded city experienced the collapse of its urban infrastructure, which sparked an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Leningrad persevered, though. Every human and intellectual resource was used to survive and prevail. The Leningraders persisted in their efforts to save lives and aid the frontline soldiers in breaking the ring that was encircling the city. Leningrad stood strong amidst air strikes, shelling, cold, and starvation, in circumstances where the very task of surviving was at the limit of human endurance. At a tremendous human cost, the encirclement was eventually broken in January 1943, and the siege ended a year later. After driving the enemy from the outskirts of Leningrad and without waiting for the war to end, the residents started rebuilding their tortured but resilient and victorious city.

Martial law was imposed in Leningrad on June 22, 1941. During an unscheduled Sunday afternoon meeting, LICT teachers and students addressed scientists in Leningrad, compelling them to focus on defense issues.
On the evening of June 23, a round-the-clock night watch began in LICT and other institutions throughout the city.
The mobilization of all who were subject to military service between the ages of 18 and 45 started on June 22. Tens of thousands of people, including 399 students and 417 Institute staff, were sent to join the Red Army by Leningrad's military enlistment offices in the early stages of the war.
The formation of the Leningrad People's Volunteer Army (LPVA) began on June 30, 1941. The Leningrad Institute of Chemical Technology was situated in the Frunzensky district, which was manning the 1st Frunze Regiment of the 3rd Division of the People's Volunteer Army. It was established on the premises of the Institute of Refrigeration on Lomonosov Street. 600 LICT students and teachers enrolled in LPVA, making up a separate unit in the 1st Frunze Regiment.
Numerous female LICT staff and students volunteered to join the medical detachment deployed by the Institute to the front.

The Leningrad region was a border area with significant economic and cultural potential. Therefore, in the early stages of the war, the city’s most critical enterprises and institutions were temporarily evacuated eastward. The Leningrad Institute of Chemical Technology was one of the evacuees.
On July 20, 1941, 322 senior students who were about to graduate and 49 LICT professors with their families left for Kazan, where they continued their work at the Kazan Institute of Chemical Technology. Students worked and studied fervently in evacuation, undertaking chores such as gathering firewood, harvesting crops, assisting in hospital care, unloading trains and barges, and building defensive structures.
Many of the LICT staff and students remaining in Leningrad were evacuated after the first winter of the blockade, some of whom also relocated to Kazan.
Students of the Department of Chemistry and Technology of Synthetic Biologically Active Substances, who left for pre-graduate internships at the Chapaevsky Chemical Plant in May 1941, were ordered to continue their work throughout the war.

A swift construction of defensive lines was necessary as the enemy approached Leningrad. This task was delegated to able-bodied Leningraders who were neither enlisted in the army nor evacuated. The Luga frontier and the Krasnogvardeisky (Gatchina) fortified territory were reinforced in July 1941 by a large dispatch of city residents. The necessary tools could only be supplied locally. For example, in the Frunzensky district, where LICT was located, 50 trucks were mobilized, 60 thousand shovels, 28 thousand crowbars, 12 thousand picks, and other necessary items were collected.
The government made an effort to coordinate groups of workers from enterprises and organizations to work on the city’s defense system. More than 350 staff members and students from LICT were designated to assist in building defensive structures. A team of LICT Special Faculty employees set out on a special assignment on July 9, 1941, to mine the frontline area along the Luga River on the outskirts of Leningrad. They demolished bridges, planted anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, and blocked forest roads. The fortifications built by the heroic labor of the residents played an important role in the Battle for Leningrad.

The first air raid alert was announced in Leningrad on June 23, 1941. German bombers broke through to Leningrad on September 6, 1941, when bombs were dropped on the territory of the Institute of Technology.
At this point, more than 200 employees and students of Technolozhka were part of the Local Air Defense (Russian abbreviation MPVO). They lived on the premises, where they engaged in combat training and carried out watch duty on the main building’s roof tower.
Even during the city's toughest period, the first blockade winter, MPVO groups carried on with their operations. Their heroic efforts helped minimize the risk of fire outbreaks. After much of the city population was either mobilized or evacuated, the majority of the Leningrad MPVO personnel were women. At Technolozhka, MPVOs were usually female employees. 
During the blockade, about 2 thousand incendiary bombs and 60 artillery shells and aviation bombs were dropped on the Institute. The greatest damage was caused by a high-explosive time bomb dropped on December 1, 1941, which destroyed part of the B-2 wing. MPVO fighters, steadfast against the danger, managed to evacuate both people and the most valuable property.

Despite the fact that Technolozhka conducted research on explosives, manufactured incendiary devices on its premises, and stored ammunition in the workshops, there was little property damage and few casualties. This counts as a significant accomplishment for the Institute's MPVO brigades. Incendiary bombs were quenched not only by MPVO combatants but also by the Institute’s employees and students.
Furthermore, LICT staff organized the city's MPVO headquarters central laboratory, which trained 800 analytic chemistry specialists in an accelerated 60-hour program. 
Artillery bombardments became the principal threat to Leningrad in 1943. Self-defense groups were formed in the city to counteract their effects. L.D. Lvova led one of such groups (a unitary team) at LICT. Its mission was to quickly deal with the consequences of shelling and ensure the smooth running of workplaces and classrooms.

Despite the departure of many students and staff to the army and the partial evacuation of personnel and equipment in the autumn of 1941, Technolozhka remained a full-fledged university. Regardless of the challenges the blockade posed to those besieged in Leningrad, educational activities at LICT continued, and classes for the students remaining in the city resumed at the Institute in September.
LICT, like other Leningrad universities, was actively involved in defense. The specialists who stayed in the city assisted enterprises in transitioning to the production of military goods. Employees and students assisted in repair and restoration works, volunteered in hospitals, and continued to develop and manufacture products for the city and the Front.
The workshops that produced supplies for the Leningrad Front were the most important part of the Institute. Earlier during World War I, the Institute of Technology's workshops had been transformed for military use, specifically to fabricate shells. Following the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, LICT resumed the production of frontline military goods.

Employees of the Institute, mostly women, worked in the workshops to equip weapons, including anti-personnel and mortar mines, as well as special incendiary devices for partisans and carbon membranes for field telephone handsets. 
42 essential medicines for the city and the Front were manufactured in LICT workshops, including anaesthetic ether, mercuric amidochloride to combat typhus, initiating substances such as sodium azide and styphnic acid, streptocide, sulfosalicylic acid, and other drugs for field hospitals and infirmaries in Leningrad.
Furthermore, a technology for producing powdered iron supplements was created to produce anti-dystrophy medications, saving the lives of many children during the siege. The manufacture of indicators for sanitary and chemical laboratories was initiated. In total, 100 wagons of military equipment, ammunition, and medications worth approximately 29 million rubles were dispatched from the Institute’s workshops to the active army. 
Furthermore, Leningrad enterprises manufactured 80 different types of products, the formulation of which was designed by LICT scientists who relied solely on the limited resources available in the besieged city.

The enemy occupied the western territories of the USSR in the early weeks of the war. Partisan forces took on new significance in these circumstances. Detachments hiding in occupied territories monitored enemy movements, launched ambushes, and undermined railways, making it difficult for hostile troops to resupply and move. The partisans' persistence constrained the efforts of the enemy and their allies. Partisans active on the Leningrad Front also assisted in organizing supplies for the besieged city.
A special order was issued to LICT to make provisions for partisan detachments. The Institute's staff planned and organized the manufacture of special incendiary items for partisans, which were distributed to detachments continuously until the entire Leningrad region was liberated. Smoldering matches were required for mass demolition work, but no materials were available for their production. Scientists adjusted the formula and launched the production of this type of match in the Institute's workshops. 
Not only did the researchers develop products required for partisan stealth operations, but some also volunteered to join the detachments themselves, while others became reconnoiters.

The Institute's students and personnel who remained in Leningrad braved the first, most horrific winter of the blockade. There was no power in the city, no transportation, and no means to heat up buildings. A major famine was unfolding in Leningrad at this point. The residents died as a result of shelling and air strikes, buildings collapsed and burned, and the city's infrastructure suffered.

LICT personnel worked despite the most challenging conditions. Among the projects undertaken during the blockade, it is important to highlight those aimed at battling famine and its consequences. Notably, Associate Professors P.G. Romankov and V.G. Baranov invented a method for making soy milk: A kilogram of soybeans yielded 7 liters of soy milk and 1.5 kg of meal, which was used to make cheese griddle cakes, cutlets, and even biscuits. Associate Professor V.A. Grigor oversaw the development of a powdered iron supplement, which is an effective remedy for dystrophy.
When the food situation improved in early 1942, the LICT leadership established a special sanatorium on the Institute's grounds, where the most weakened staff were transferred for five days to “feed up” and recover.

The Institute underwent a second evacuation in March 1942, and classes were suspended. Even though only roughly 200 individuals, including 19 men, remained at the Institute, research and production continued in labs and workshops. K.B. Hess was elected as the director of the Production Workshop. 
In order to meet the newly emerging needs of the Front and Leningrad itself, the manufacturing process had to be adjusted. Notably, it fell to the LICT staff to determine what caused the envelopes of barrage balloons to fail. The team, under the direction of Associate Professor P.G. Romankov, handled this task masterfully, restoring the defense capacity of the Leningrad air defense system.
LICT scientists started the fabrication of shells using substitute explosives, saving hundreds of tons of extremely deficient materials. A separate lab was established for the examination of captured munitions. 
The library kept working as usual. A small number of books were transported to Kazan, but a sizable collection of academic and non-academic literature remained in the besieged city. The hospital obtained fiction from the library, while the departments and laboratories used scientific publications and reference books. Only 2 of the 32 library workers stayed on the job.

As the spring of 1942 neared, there were concerns that the sewage waste and remains of the dead, which had not been cleaned all winter, might trigger widespread epidemics. Accordingly, on March 8, the Leningraders began to clean up the city. On weekends, every able-bodied resident grabbed a crowbar and a shovel. Debilitated by the harsh winter and with the last of their strength, the residents—primarily women—managed to achieve the feat. The streets were cleared of snow, sewage was cleansed, and the corpses of the deceased were interred. The selfless work of the Leningraders allowed the launch of a passenger tram along the cleaned streets. It was initiated on April 15, 1942, and became a true holiday for the residents of the city. The restoration of public transport hastened the resumption of regular life in Leningrad. 

LICT staff, like other Leningrad locals, contributed to this effort. They organized the cleanup of the Institute's grounds and the surrounding Frunzensky district.

The problem of Leningrad's energy supply was evident long before the blockade was imposed. Residents of the city helped gather peat, which was the most economical type of fuel for power plants. Once it became impossible to supply enough raw materials to the city, the Volkhovskaya HPP was evacuated. Despite living under wartime austerity, the city was always in need of energy sources, mainly for the military sector and bakeries.
However, the majority of boiler plants were not designed to run on peat. LICT created a technique that allowed low-calorific and peat fuels to be used in boiler plants in a variety of industries and small enterprises, including bakeries.
Under the direction of Professor A.K. Silnitsky, furnaces were designed and developed for burning low-calorie coal for smelting metals, as well as peat in bakeries. In the absence of high-quality fuel, these innovations guaranteed that bread could be baked continuously during the blockade. 
In the summer of 1942, the Leningrad forces harvested peat and demolished wooden structures for fuel.

The blockade of Leningrad was broken in January 1943. This put an end to the issue of hunger. But Leningrad remained a frontline city, with enemy shells exploding on its streets every day. In spite of all this, LICT set out to resume classes. 
Student recruitment was announced in September. Anyone could enroll for the first year of study, and former students of LICT and other universities could continue their education in corresponding specializations without entrance exams. The new academic year began with 132 students, comprising 76 first-year students, 15 second-year students, 25 third-year students, and 16 fourth-year students. They were all admitted to a specialized faculty dealing with the development of munitions.
On October 1, 1943, the academic year began at LICT. Classes were held in the restored Large Chemical Auditorium and in several classrooms of the main building, and they continued even during shelling. After classes, students mastered the skills necessary for restoring the Institute, including painting, carpentry, and plumbing.
On December 5, 1943, a German shell destroyed the classrooms in the Mendeleev Building, which interrupted class schedules once more.

In 1943, many in LICT and across Leningrad received medals with an olive ribbon with a small green stripe in the middle. It was the “For the Defense of Leningrad” award, established in December 1942, when the blockade was still in place. It outnumbers other similar medals in terms of the number of awardees. While 30 thousand medals were awarded for the defense of Odessa, over 50 thousand for the defense of Sevastopol, 759,560 for the defense of Stalingrad, a little more than 1 million for the defense of Moscow, as many as nearly 1.5 million were awarded for the defense of Leningrad. This is because it was presented not just to members of the military, but also to the many residents who assisted in the city's defense.
Numerous staff and students at the Leningrad Institute of Chemical Technology received the medal “For the Defense of Leningrad”. Some were recognized for their direct part in combat, while others for their contribution to supplying the city and the front with everything necessary, when in the absence of basic devices, reagents, and materials, in the dark, and without heating or water supply, they continued their research. The city supplied itself and the Leningrad Front thanks to the advances of Leningrad scientists, primarily LICT staff. LICT personnel who earned this prize included I.V. Dombrovo and L.M. Vorobyova.

Following the re-evacuation from Kazan, classes at LICT were resumed in full. “Technolozhka” was the only university in Leningrad to obtain considerable funding for renovations and evacuation permits as early as 1944. The first echelon with evacuated teachers and students returned in May 1944, followed by a second echelon in August. In February 1945, the last group of evacuees arrived in Leningrad.
The principal problem facing the Institute in 1944 was the restoration of destroyed premises, as well as the repair and restoration of communications, equipment, and inventory. For this reason, construction crews were formed among professors and students. Thanks to their hard work, some of the classrooms and laboratories were back in order in the summer of 1944, allowing classes to begin in all courses and programs in the fall of that year. 
Restoration work required tremendous intellectual and creative input on the part of the Institute’s staff. Some of it involved producing glue to repair pipes and using the flasks of burnt-out light bulbs to replace chemistry glassware. 
LICT was fully restored after the end of the Great Patriotic War.

The Great Patriotic War concluded on May 9, 1945. Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. Demobilization began. LICT personnel who served in the military or were assigned to defense enterprises could at last return to their former university. 
Many received orders and medals. M.D. Kononov, one of the technologists, was awarded the honorific title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
The authorities commended the efforts of the Institute's workshops that operated in the besieged Leningrad. Notably, K.B. Hess received two Orders of the Red Star, V.V. Albensky received the Order of the Badge of Honor, and the medals “For Military Merit” were awarded to master A.G. Prokofiev and workers T.R. Alifanova and A.I. Fedorova. The medals “For Distinguished Labor” were awarded to V.A. Grishechkina and V.S. Kozlova. E.K. Golubeva, A.R. Grunte, I.V. Dombrovo, A.I. Zhurina, F.I. Mikerina, and V.G. Smyslov received honorary certificates from the Leningrad City Executive Committee. 
Professor M.S. Maximenko and workshop director A.F. Donausov received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor posthumously.