Beginning of WWII. Military actions in Shostka region

The offensive strategy insisted upon by the USSR leadership, required permanent military readiness from the society. Militaristic terminology was constantly present in the media, in symbols of national holidays, in literature, and in arts. Military aesthetics is conveyed in the decorations of this part of the exhibition. Military studies became compulsory at school. In early 1939, the USSR launched a set of measures to transfer its state infrastructure to martial law. The next step on the road to war was the signing of the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union along with the secret protocol defining the borders of Soviet and German spheres of influence across Europe on August 23, 1939. For the next two years, military actions took place far from Shostka. They were reported in the Zorya newspaper, with restrictions, but the locals were actively involved in them nevertheless. Some of the men were drafted into the Red Army. Under the new ammunitions mobilization plan, Shostka enterprises had a dramatic increase in military output.

Nazi Germany’s attack on the USSR destroyed the familiar rhythm of life in Shostka. A few days after the outbreak of war, the city was already bombed. From June 24, 1941, overtime hours were introduced at local military enterprises. A work shift could last up to 11 hours. Martial law was introduced in the city on July 3, and equipment and evacuation of the Powder and Capsule plants and the Film factory began on July 19. Reports of deaths and missing locals in 1944 indicate that Shostka residents were perishing in the frontlines as early as in July 1941.

Shostka was on the path of the offensive of the 2nd Panzer Division under the command of Heinz Guderian. Therefore, after brief skirmishes around the bridges over the Desna and Vit rivers, German troops entered the city on August 27, 1941.