Symbol of Magnitogorsk's labour feat
The opening ceremony was attended by Pavel Shilyaev, CEO of Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK), Sergey Berdnikov, Mayor of Magnitogorsk, Vitaly Bakhmetyev, Member of the Russian State Duma and other officials, in addition to the Region’s Governor. According to Alexey Teksler, the stele will become a symbol of Magnitogorsk residents’ labour feat during war and a reminder to the younger generation about the heroism of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers. CEO of MMK Pavel Shilyaev, in turn, noted the importance of preserving the historical memory of the country’s heroic past. "Labour and bravery are the words Magnitogorsk is associated with since the very first years of its existence. Last year, the President’s decree officially awarded Magnitogorsk the "City of Labour Valour" title and just after the decree was signed, the first stone was laid in the foundation of this stele which would immortalize our city’s proud name. Today, on the eve of Metallurgist’s Day, we are opening this monument solemnly. Allow me to offer my congratulations to all citizens of Magnitogorsk, metallurgists and our honored guests on this important event in the history of our home city," Pavel Shilyaev said.
The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the City of Labour Valour commemorative stele took place a year ago, during Metallurgist's Day celebrations. Earlier, at the suggestion of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a law on Cities of Labour Valour was passed, and on 2 July 2020, during the meeting of the “Victory” Russian Organising Committee, a decision was made to award this title to 20 Russian cities, including Magnitogorsk. Commemorative steles featuring the city's coat of arms and the text of the presidential decree are to be installed in these cities.
To choose a location in Magnitogorsk for the stele to take place, the city organised a popular vote which was won by Glory of Magnitogorsk Square, located opposite Pushkin Drama Theatre. A stele with Magnitogorsk’s Soviet-era awards – the Orders of Lenin and the Red Banner of Labour – is already located in this square.
The composition of the stele which symbolises the city’s labour feat consists of seven parts and resembles shell fragments. The city authorities have not only installed a stele on Glory of Magnitogorsk Square, but also improved the area. Zoning was put in place using modern solutions, recreational areas were created, new lighting was installed, as well as a dry fountain with music and lighting.
The honorary title of City of Labour Valour is awarded to towns whose residents demonstrated labour heroism and self-sacrifice manufacturing military and civilian products at industrial enterprises during the Great Patriotic War.
The labour feats of Magnitogorsk workers during the war made a huge contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany. Every third shell and the armour of every second Soviet tank from 1941 to 1945 was made of steel from MMK. But MMK did not only produce armour steel. The new lathe and new mechanical workshops produced shells and air bombs. The forging shop forged blanks for shells and mines. In the electrical repair shop, hand grenades were produced and in the coke plant – incendiary bottles and military explosives. The shaped roll steel foundry cast the armour covers for pillboxes and tank turrets. Magnitogorsk’s woodworking plant made boxes for shells and the work crews at the municipal industrial factory made anti-tank mines and horseshoes for the cavalry. Sewing shops were making uniforms. Consumer goods plants were transferred to producing trench stoves. In this way, Magnitogorsk selflessly "shaped" the victory, becoming a reliable production base for the whole country.