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German Railways in the East Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.

You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post. But it is a bit of a red herring as what you really need to understand is Track STRENGTH and weight of the rails is only one factor in this as detailed at the top of this post.

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Another effect is that as axle loading increases the damage to the track increase exponentially. The rule of thumb is that a doubling of gross axle weight rating results in 16 times rail damage. With a large number of variables, the calculations are complex but increasing speed or axle loading takes an increasing strength of rail and that is a combination of rail weight, sleeper density and type, ballast type.

The reason for this was the powerful US locomotives and large wheels and the power transmitted to the rails coupled with the hammer blow effect of the counter weights on the wheels resulted in significant damage. Looking at column 1 and 4, if you double the speed you have to double the weight of the rail. I really find this stuff very very interesting.

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What he is describing is "Super Trunk Lining" which is a German term but describes when a high capacity railway is given over to a single cargo type in an effort to gain maximum capacity. So in the early 's, the Soviets had repaired the Tsar's railway network from the damage of the Revolution and the Civil War and the industrialisation of the 5 Year Plans was starting.


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There were 'pockets' of demand, obviously the main industrial areas of the Donetz, around Moscow, the Urals, etc. This led to the transport crisis of were 'bottlenecks' appeared and greatly disrupted traffic.

E. A. Rees

This was a direct effect of the 'gigantomania' of the industrialisation plan. One example is the coal required by Leningrad and Moscow. Leningrad imported coal for domestic heating and industry from Great Britain and Poland by ship, so there was a move to switch this supply to the Donetz coal as the the fields were expanded.

So two railway tracks that run from the Donetz up to Moscow were designated Super Trunk Lines and were upgraded largely to haul this traffic. Both were double tracked by This still left a shortage of capacity so a further line was chosen.

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The "Moscow - Donbass Trunk Line" was built using sections of existing line, upgraded, double tracked and then joined up and ran between the two lines mentioned above. It was a huge project and the team who had just finished the Trans Siberian Line upgrade were chosen to do it. The work lasted from until and further extensions were added in The result of this policy is that the Soviet railways on a map look like a network, fairly evenly spread around the country but this is deceiving.

The real situation is that you have areas of 'localisation' - heavy regional concentrations of heavy rail use ie the Donbass, Urals, Moscow, etc linked by Super Trunk Lines. Meanwhile the general economy, hauling mail and crates of chickens, trundles around at a slow pace. While the Soviet railways operated in a different fashion to the rest of Europe there seems to have been little information or understanding of this. The German Railway Yearbook of quoted in Kreidler has statistics for every railway in Europe except on the line for the USSR it says "little known about this railway".

However there was some knowledge and published material in the USA, in the Soviet Information Bureau published a book that included Soviet railway achievements. Soviet History Archive and in a commission of US railway experts went out to the Soviet Union to give technical advice as part of the US help with the industrialisation project of the First 5 Year Plan.

In the FMS series von Bork a German Transport General notes that in they had little information other than that which they could see on the border of broad gauge transfer stations and the little that was remembered from A report on railroads and highways in Poland, East Prussia, and other Baltic areas.

In when Germany invaded Poland they had a good idea of the state of Polish Railways. There was a good network in the country to the west of the Vistula reflecting the urban population and industry and a lesser capacity just over the river but once you got into the east of the country which was largely agricultural, the railway network was very sparse. For the invasion, the Germans reckoned on trains a day both ways crossing the border from Germany with 7 railway lines of up to 72 trains a day.

But across Western Poland this dropped to trains a day and was only trains a day at the Vistula. In the East it was around 50 trains a day on minor lines. Once the campaign was over the German set about a 3 year plan Otto I to upgrade the entire Polish network and to bring it up to German standards and to allow German armies to mass on the border. They divided the country into what was termed "Congress Poland" - the old German provinces of the West Prussia and Warthegau were returned to the Reich, the Government General formed Congress Poland referring to the Congress of Vienna in In railway terms, the best part of the railway network went to the Reich, the middle part was set up as a new company, the Ostbahn answering to Hans Frank, the Governor of the Government General and the income as well but most of the poor eastern section ended up in Soviet hands.

But of course you have seen the problem, between the high capacity German network and the high capacity Soviet network from Brest Litovsk eastwards, there is a band of really poor railways, only half of which was in German hands and which organisationally was poorly set-up. The Germans would spend from - trying to bridge this gap. As Tooze has explained in his book, the currency with the Third Reich was steel allocation and that depended on political influence, finance of which the DRB had plenty was of no use and the Government General was politically weak despite Frank's position as Justice Minister.

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So in the Autumn of after the failure of Operation Sealion when the Army's gaze turned towards Russia, there were few transport links leading to the proposed front line. Otto II required , tons of steel and , workers and was put under the command of the DRB which completed the project early and did some additional work as well by April But what had the Soviets being doing on their side of the border in the old Eastern Poland? In all cases, they took over a working railway, with functioning track, a workforce and rolling stock. This was particularly true in Poland whereas the German captured track in the West of Poland but no rolling stock and a heavily damaged system and some rolling stock in Central Poland, hte Soviets got an intact albeit poor one complete system relatively untouched by war.

But with everything functioning well there was little incentive to change anything so it was not until the Spring of that the decision was taken to convert everything to broad gauge. According to "Railway Workers of the GPW" little work was done on conversion and some work was done in Soviet Poland on converting main lines to broad gauge to carry the German economic traffic and unloading areas for mobilisation.

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But the Red Army complained that they had a capacity drop at the old USSR border and the new territories for mobilisation. The "Polish Gap" remained for an advancing German Army despite their efforts on their side of the border. Polish areas lost to Soviets in had the poorest network, that I can understand.

So how exactly the same area east from Brest Litovsk suddenly become "high capacity Soviet network"?

Stalinism and Soviet Rail Transport, 1928-41

Did they fixed it in 2 years? Sovietization was a process dictated by ideological imperatives, but it also reflected the distinctive aspect of socialist strategies of state and nation building. Sovietization is examined in the book not only in terms of the imposition of new forms of government, but also in terms of the socialist response to modernity, as reflected in approaches to new technology and management, consumption and leisure patterns, religious and educational policy, political rituals and attitudes to the past.

The essays contained in the volume explore the diversity and the tensions within the Sovietization process in the countries of the region. It is important to actively integrate the results of these endevors and pursue a European history of Communism. This volume is an important step in this direction. Its comparative, transnational perspective makes it an outstanding contribution to the field.


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