Isaac Zaltzman’s case. Corruption at ChTZ and the disgrace of the “tank king”

“Reduce superiority in tanks to zero!”

Isaac Zaltsman’s rise to the management elite of the 1940s was detailed in the first part of the story. In this regard, an interesting story about how Isaac Zaltsman became the deputy commissar of the tank industry. This is colorfully described by Daniyal Ibragimov in his book “Confrontation”. In many ways, it is based on the stories of Salzman himself.

It took place on October 10, 1941 at the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, when it was announced to Georgy Zhukov that from that day he was in command of the Western Front – he was defending Moscow. Then it was already known that the Leningrad Tank Plant was being evacuated to Chelyabinsk, and Zhukov even asked the “tank king” to send the first KV produced to Moscow. At that time, Stalin and his entourage understood perfectly well that only tanks could stop the Germans, and industrialists increasingly heard:

“We need tanks! Today it is impossible without tanks. You see what the Germans will be: massive tank wedges. We must oppose them with our wedges “

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And to the military he repeated:

“Ruthlessly destroy enemy tanks!”, “Reduce superiority in tanks to zero!”

But back to Headquarters. The conversation between Zhukov and Zaltsman was interrupted by Stalin:

– Comrade Zhukov! Comrade Zaltsman here promised to the members of the Politburo to produce in the Urals as many tanks per day as he is. The only pity is that he is young, only 30 years old. So what, Comrade Zaltsman?
– So, Comrade Stalin!
“What if we appoint Comrade Zaltsman as People’s Commissar for the Tank Industry?”

Isaac Zaltsman with his family

According to Isaac Zaltsman himself, this offer came as a complete surprise to him. He tried to answer that he had little experience and he was too young for such a position. But Stalin, in response, called the age of thirty not an obstacle, but an advantage.

As a result, the present Molotov listened to the future “tank king” and proposed to appoint Zaltsman as a compromise deputy people’s commissar and curator of all tank factories in the Urals and allied companies. And Stalin added: “That’s right, and transfer the traditions of the Krasnoputilovites to the Urals.”

And here the most heartfelt begins in the book. Isaac Zaltsman, obviously inspired by this turn of the matter, proposes to rename ChTZ to Kirovsky. Deathly silence reigned in the office. Further, I quote from Ibragimov’s book:

“Stalin did not understand why everyone looked embarrassed and asked:
– What is it called now?
“In the name of Stalin,” Zaltsman replied, looking straight in the eyes.
Stalin took a few steps to the side and, looking somewhere in the corner of the office, said:
– Well, well, the name of Kirov, so the name of Kirov, so be it …. “

Another case, confirming the trust of the authorities to Isaac Zaltsman, is associated with Nizhniy Tagil during the period when the T-34 was put into production. Arriving at the Uralvagonzavod with an inspection, Zaltsman found a conveyor heaped up with artillery boxes – at this time Lavrenty Beria’s instructions (he was in charge of artillery topics in the government) were being carried out to increase the release of shells. All this went against the plans for the production of a thirty-four, and, naturally, the deputy people’s commissar turned off this assembly line, especially since a lot of shells had already accumulated in the plant’s warehouses. It was possible to fight off the attacks of the NKVD and even personal calls from Beria only by a direct order from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Obviously, it was then that Beria harbored a grudge against the “tank king”.

Victory symbol at the gates of Uralvagonzavod

Despite such a serious trust on the part of Stalin and, of course, the heroic work of “Tankograd” during the war years, by the end of the 40s, Zaltsman finally lost his disposition and found himself in disgrace. This was largely a consequence of the post-war work of the Kirov plant – the enterprise chronically failed to cope with its plans.

I must say that during the trial of Zaltsman, he was reminded of his younger sister Maria Moiseevna, who lost her husband during the years of the “Great Terror”. He was shot in 1938, and Maria, the mother of three children, was given the maximum term for the wife of the “enemy of the people” – 8 years in the Akmola camp of the wives of traitors to the Motherland. They were released only in 1946, after serving the entire term, and Isaac Zaltsman, with great difficulty, was able to register his sister with children in Chelyabinsk, which was then closed. It is noteworthy that he could do this only with the permission of the leadership of the regional UNKVD – this is worth remembering when it comes to the omnipotence of the “tank king”.

Theft and corruption

Immediately I will make a reservation that the facts below about Isaac Zaltsman’s career and character are the results of a study by historians of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Judging by these sources, already in 1946, they began to collect dirt on Zaltsman in the form of accusations of leaderism, rudeness and rudeness, which, however, did not bring the almighty director to his senses. So, on August 15, 1947, at a meeting of the heads of the shops, the “tank king” said:

“It is a pity that Soviet laws interfere with me. If it was possible to isolate myself from Soviet laws, then in two weeks I would put the plant on its feet, bring the necessary order. If they gave me full power, like partisans, I would personally immediately shoot the chief workshop Taravan, head of the fuel equipment workshop Zolotarev and others. “

These words were documented, and later the commission tried to find the objective reasons for the nagging on the part of the director, but in vain. Isaak Zaltsman met the future director of the plant, and then the head of the chassis workshop Alexander Kritsyn in his new position:

“I have you here, in my fist, I can put you in jail.”

By the way, Kritsyn will later rise to the rank of Deputy Minister of Defense Industry of the USSR. Of the decent swear words often used by Zaltsman for management purposes, historians have even made a “top 12”:

“Balda, chatterbox, bum, cheapskate, adventurer, rogue, son of a bitch, bastard, traitor, saboteur, rascal, lackey”

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For obvious reasons, the Ural historians did not dare to publish the rest.

Isaac Zaltzman's case.  Corruption at ChTZ and the disgrace of the

In the second half of the 40s, the unsatisfactory rates of production of the S-80 tractor became one of the reasons for the removal of Isaac Zaltsman from the post of director.

But even this attitude of Zaltsman towards his subordinates was not the main reason for the disgrace. In 1949, an official note with the following content was placed on Stalin’s table:

“The Kirov plant in the post-war years worked unsatisfactorily. In 1946, the plan for marketable output was fulfilled only by 67%, in 1947 – by 79.9%, and in 1948 – by 97.8%. During these three years, the plant did not provide the country with 6 thousand powerful S-80 tractors, which are extremely necessary for the needs of agriculture, the forest industry and the construction of major structures. The plant made a particularly serious failure in the production of tractors in 1948 – instead of 16.5 thousand tractors, only 13230 were produced. The plant performed extremely poorly in 1946–48. government tank assignments. The release of tanks was systematically disrupted, a significant number of them were released with serious design and manufacturing defects, for which Comrade Zaltsman was reprimanded by a resolution of the Council of Ministers in February 1949. ”

It must be said to justify the director of the plant that the government, in its usual manner, regularly raised plans for the production of both armored vehicles and tractors. In 1948, Zaltsman even personally turned to Beria and Stalin with a request to reduce the production rate of the S-80 tractor from 16.5 thousand to 11 thousand, but he was not heard. Salzman managed to put the IS-4 on the assembly line, but in 1947 the plan for heavy tanks was fulfilled only by 25%, a year later by 77.5%, but at the cost of manufacturing quality.

Great “Tankograd”. From left to right – chief designer N. L. Dukhov, plant director I. M. Zaltsman, chief engineer S. N. Makhonin

Finally, the most important claim to the activities of Zaltsman was the theft of subordinates, as evidenced by numerous archives.

The head of the workshop, close to the “tank king”, took out construction materials from the plant and erected a summer house for himself, for the construction of which he later drove workers for labor subbotniks. Zaltsman learned about this from the relevant persons, fired his colleague, and then put him back in the leadership, but already as the head of the coal supply of the power plant. But the head of the shop, who appears in the documents as V-n, and his deputy, D-n, were sentenced in 1948 for appropriating 16,000 rubles, but they miraculously served their sentence while working at the plant. The head of the workshop Ya-n used his official position and rewarded his subordinates, and took all the bonuses to organize banquets with irrepressible alcoholic libations.

There were even more complex schemes that, I think, will find their followers now. Chelyabinsk Kirovsky in those days carried out various large orders of third-party factories, and this aroused unhealthy interest among dishonest businessmen. Thus, large orders from the Kolyuschenko plant and experimental plant No. 100, worth over a million rubles, were not properly processed and registered. The fulfillment of these orders was carried out through the use of factory equipment and materials from the Kirov plant. The best foremen and the most skilled workers were involved in the implementation of “special orders”. The removal of products and parts was carried out according to forged documents under the guise of in-plant transportation to workshops located behind the factory fence. Money for fulfilling orders was received fraudulently. In order to get their hands on the bulk of the funds, in the agreement concluded between the Kirov plant and the customer, the cost of the manufactured parts and their number was several times underestimated. For example, a drive shaft for a grader instead of the actual cost of 1000 r. sold for 1 p. 80 kopecks.

Another case was recorded in the motor assembly workshop. The chief and his deputy stole two new tractor motors (each for 20 thousand rubles), interrupted the serial numbers and took them out of the factory under the guise of old ones. Then they sold it to the Kolyuschenko plant and divided the proceeds of 16 thousand rubles.

According to the Chelyabinsk prosecutor’s office, all these cases were covered by Zaltsman personally, none of the criminals was ever punished. And in some cases, thieves and corrupt officials were promoted by the director. However, the clouds over Isaac Zaltsman thickened serious. As it turned out, the “tank king” encouraged corruption and theft since 1942.

To be continued…

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