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  • Ready for something automotive and depressing at the same time?

    As I'm sure a few of you know, the former Soviet Union is a country that lost about 14% of its population in World War II (on top of being previously invaded by the Germans in WWI). Estimates vary, but about 20-27 million Russians died as a result of the war. Think about that for a moment. Twenty seven million dead. In addition to the horrendous loss of life, in 1945 the Soviet Union was basically reduced to rubble by the war. It was literally bombed and burned back to the stone age. Except they didn’t benefit from the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Western Europe. Thus, they started not from nothing, but from a deep, rubble-strewn hole in the ground.

    It is in this climate that the ZiL (Завод имени Лихачёва, Zavod imeni Likhachyova) plant was set to re-equip the nation with all the tools it needed. There was one point where it pumped out more than 500,000 trucks per year in addition to the occasional state limousine. While many here in the U.S. would slog them off as being inferior, it is evident that the ZiL works was full of talented engineers and craftsmen who probably could’ve designed and built vehicles comparable to their Western counterparts, if given a chance.

    This is why this particular documentary from a few years ago showing the final decline of ZiL is so heart-wrenchingly bleak. I dare you to observe the conditions these workers have to face in the barely-functioning husk of a colossal factory with detritus scattered all about and not be incredibly saddened. The only thing it needs to complete the Eastern hellscape would be Korobeiniki playing faintly in the background from a scratchy gramophone.
    Last edited by Stude Shoo-wop!; 09-23-2019, 08:50 PM.
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  • #2
    Not to minimize their losses during the war but Russia did not stop at the Volga River. A ton of their manufacturing had been moved east as illustrated buy their production of tanks and other weapons as the war progressed. They were also the recipient of war material from here that they never repaid.

    As they moved forward after the war, they did indeed need to rebuilt a major portion of their country which had been devastated during the conflict but they also chose to expend, tremendous resources that were spent on competing with the west on arms and other technology. They were also very inefficient in how they spent their resources as illustrated by their difficulty in food production and other consumer items.

    What you do point out is that at times we do forget that there are real people on the other end, which is valuable.

    Watch the History channels three part series on Stalin if you really want to feel for the folks in that country.

    Bob

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    • #3
      Thanks for an interesting post that does give one pause.
      Murray
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      • #4
        This was quite a interesting video, thanks for posting that.

        From some calendars on the walls in the offices, this was done in 2010. Some quick reading elsewhere indicates the ZIL plant was finally shut down in 2013.

        The looks of that plant is reminiscent of many videos you can find of abandoned factories here in the US, just not yet vacant, vandalized, and returning to the earth.

        There is a reason for that:

        The factory was founded on 2nd August 1916 as the Moscow Automotive Society or AMO (Russian: Автомобильное Московское Общество (АМО), romanized: Avtomobilnoe Moskovskoe Obshchestvo (AMO)). The factory was completed in 1917, just before the Revolution, and was built south of Moscow near Moscow River in Tjufeleva grove. It was a modern building with the latest in American equipment and was designed to employ 6,000 workers.[4] The plans were to produce Fiat F-15 1.5-ton trucks under license. Because of the October Revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War it took until 1st November 1924 to produce the first vehicle which was shown at a parade in 7th of November, the AMO-F15. Nevertheless the factory still managed to assemble trucks bought from Italy in 1917-1919. In April 30 1923 the factory was named after an Italian coummunist Pietro Ferrero, but in 1925 was renamed to First National Automobile Factory (Russian: 1-й Государственный автомобильный завод). 2 years later in 1927 Ivan Likhachov was appointed as a head of the factory, a person whose name the factory bears from 1956. In April 1929, it was agreed on to expand the plant to build Autocar 2.5-ton truck models.[5][6][7]

        In 1931 the factory was re-equipped and expanded with the help of the American A.J. Brandt Co., and changed its name to Automotive Factory No. 2 Zavod Imeni Stalina (ZIS or ZiS). After Nikita Khrushchev denounced the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin in 1956, the name was changed again to Zavod imeni Likhachyova, after its former director Ivan Alekseevich Likhachov.

        ZiL lanes—road lanes dedicated to vehicles carrying top Soviet officials—were named after the car. The ZiL limousines were the official car that carried the Soviet heads of state, and many Soviet Union allied leaders, to summits or in parades. The limousines were flown to international summits as for example in 1990 to Washington DC for President Mikhail Gorbachev's official state visit.

        Zil has a history of exporting trucks to Cuba, a trade resumed in the early 21st century.[8] The ZiL factory is portrayed in a 2014 documentary, The Last Limousine.[9]

        Moscow administration has stopped truck production and the company will be liquidated. ZiL still exists as a legal entity, but produces no vehicles. In 2014 it was announced that the factory site will be turned into a residential development.[10] Most factory buildings were dismantled in 2015.[11]

        The factory's equipment and other automotive assets were auctioned off to a new company, "MSTs6 AMO ZIL". It employs 47 staff, mostly former ZiL workers.[12] The company took part in the Moscow International Automobile Salon 2016.[13]
        I am sure the workers and engineers from that plant had more in common with their counterparts here than not. Most politics between countries is at the top, not at the average Joe level. I think the saddest thing said in that documentary is at the very end when they have either just completed or almost completed those 3 hand-built limos is the order is cancelled!! A plastic tarp is put over them. One hopes those ended up in some museum, etc.

        Jeff in ND

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        • #5
          Just a clarification.....we offered the Marshal plan to them and they refused.
          Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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          • #6
            Such an appropriate thread title...depressing indeed! Thanks for posting, the video was very well done. junior
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            • #7
              How many millions of Russians did Stalin kill during the purges of the 1930's?

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              • #8
                somewhere between 10 and 20 million?
                Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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                • #9
                  Interesting video, and an indication that ZIL had not shaken off their Communist habits (issuing vouchers for food only usable at the company cafeteria, issuing clothing [not just specialized wear] from a central office, centralized hiring of untrained, illiterate workers, lots of workers standing around doing nothing). Still sad, as it was a great industrial (though obviously obsolete) plant and it's obvious that some of the staff cared deeply about the products they produced.
                  Last edited by Skip Lackie; 10-05-2019, 06:49 AM.
                  Skip Lackie

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