"Архіви України"
№ 1 (289) / 2014

Iryna LOPUSHINSKA*

HENICHESK SEAPORTS IN DOCUMENTS OF STATE ARCHIVES OF KHERSON OBLAST

We made a review of the funds and publications research of the reference library of Kherson State Archives, covering the work of Henichesk seaport.

Keywords: Henichesk; Kherson; Azov Sea ports; sea trade and passenger traffic.


The Kherson region has long been considered an agricultural one. A significant number of grown agricultural products needed recycling places, target markets and timely delivery to them. Seaports were ones to meet these needs. Kherson region is washed by two seas – the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. History of Kherson seaport has been studied enough, which cannot be said about the history of Henichesk seaport.

Actually there was a port area in Henichesk from its very foundation. The city is located in the southeastern part of the Azov lowland estuary on the coast of Utlyutskyi Strait and Tonka Strait of the Azov Sea, which connect the estuary with Sivash1. The first mention on Henichesk refers to 17842, when on the banks of the Sea of Azov and Sivash there was founded a small settlement of Ust-Azov, later became known as Henichesk. Townspeople were engaged in fishing, arable and sheep farming. The salt mining was of significant development as well. In 1835, there was paved a post road from Henichesk along the Arbat Spit to Theodosia. Located on the crossroad, Henichesk eventually became one of the centers of the Azov Sea, through which bread, salt, wool were exported abroad. That time the first buildings of a future seaport were also erected3.

A member of the Society for Russian Merchant Shipping Promotion engineer N. A. Sakhnovskyi noted in his report that in 1882, Henichesk had nothing commonly considered a sea port: "that part of the sea, which protected from waves or pool dug into the bank, where far sailing ships should moor and be loaded directly from the waterfront or railroad cars - but there is only natural unprotected anchorage"4. In Henichesk port ship goods were loaded with the help of coasters.Coasters standing on the open anchorages, often suffered accidents and leakage of holds, were broken adrift, destroyed by waves, which spoiled goods. To eliminate these difficulties they needed to build a port, using the natural anchorage.

We have to admit that during the last quarter of the nineteenth century there were carried out official researches regarding the Azov ports building. In 1875, there was developed a draft on Henichesk port improvement, which defined five different locations for digging deep sea channels as options of spatial location of the port. Field works resulted in a 1893 plan Henichesk port which foresaw to dig a sea channel depth to 12 feet, to erect a building of Steamship Agency, wood and brick grain barns, lotsmeyster barracks5.

The volume of Henichesk port traffic began to rise since 1876, when there was laid a railway line to Genichesk connecting it with the newly built railway Lozova – Simferopol. Every year the port exported more than 4 million tons of grain. Thus, in 1887 the sum of exported grain constituted 1 million 311.3 thousand rubles. The port served both cabotage and international transportation. During 1887 115 coastal (cabotage) vessels and 22 vessels under foreign flags landed in the Henichesk port6.

At the end of 1880, at the port there were 13 ships of Henichesk burgers Theodore (Fedir) Yanati and Nicholas Karadanay as the owners. Eight of the thirteen ships were built in Henichesk, namely boat "Elijah", trambaks "Elizabeth", "Saint John", "Saint Nicholas", "St. Anastasia," "Plyksevra", "La Traviata" and sailing ship "Vladislav". All vessels assigned to the Henichesk port had a patent for a "small floating"7.

The Henichesk port received a legal basis for its existence the only in 1898 when the law of the Russian Empire "On private land alienation of immovable property for the arrangement of the port, based in Henichesk" four acres and seven hundred sixty square yards of land with buildings on it was placed under arrangement of the Henichesk Port8.

In 1912, the railroad line 1 km long connected the port and the town station9. The port and its commodity circulation rapidly developed, the town was built up and the town population increased. Pihulya V. noted that during the 1913 navigation period the port cargo circulation reached 25 million tons per year, of which 6 million tons of cabotage. They exported abroad grain, flour, wool, in cabotage – salt, flour, coal, wood. About 800 people worked for truck jobs daily. These works were operated manually10.

This information about the history of the Henichesk port of the Russian Empire period is contained in the publications of that time, statistical compilations, maps atlases and the information of the Imperial Society for the Russian Merchant Shipping Promotion. Interesting materials are given in local history researches, especially in the paper of Pihulya V. "Henichesk and the People of It" where an entire section "Port - the Heart of the City" was dedicated to the history of the port. The text is illustrated by many photographs.

Documents on the history of the port in 1898-1922 are not deposited in the State Archives of Kherson Region. The lack of archival records for this period can be explained by constant administrative and territorial changes directly related to the city. Thus, at the time of the port foundation Henichesk was a town of Melitopol district in Tauride province (this province was abolished in March 1918). That same year the city became a part of the Katerynoslav province, since 1920 – of the Oleksandriv province, since 1921 – of the Zaporizhzhya province, and since 1922 it became a part of the Katerynoslav province again11,. After the elimination of provinces, and districts later in 1932, Henichesk district belonged to the Dnipropetrovsk region, and since 1939 – to the Zaporizhzhya region12. It was only after the liberation of Kherson from the Nazi occupation and foundation of the Kherson region by Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR by March 30, 1944, the region was comprised of the Henichesk district among other areas13.

The core array of the Soviet-era documents which contain information about the operation of the Henichesk port are deposited in several archival fonds, namely "Henichesk County Executive Committee," "Henichesk Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine", "Executive Committee of the Kherson Regional Council", "Kherson Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine", "Executive Committee of the Henichesk District Council", "Executive Committee of the Henichesk City Council", "Henichesk County Statistical Bureau".

Chronologically, these fonds cover the period of 1920s to 1960s. Among these documents one can find memorandums on the status and development of the port considered at the meetings of the executive committees, historical references and reports, as well as orders on the appointment of the port authority senior officials, reports about party cells activity. The documents can partially recreate the history of the port after the Civil War, its operation in the 1920s to 1940s and after the Great Patriotic War.

First documents about the Henichesk port in the post-revolutionary period are deposited in censuses of the Katerynoslav province institutions by October 1922. There was a card of the Administration of Henichesk Trading Port (Maritime Agency), which was subject to the People's Commissariat of Communications and located on the str. Marine, No. 16. Geographically, the port served the territory from the village Kyrylivka to Chokrak. In the Soviet era the Henichesk trading port started operating in December 1920 and being on public expense. The employed staff consisted of 4 employees and 3 workers. Of the seven males older than 18 years one received a rate of skilled workers. Employees receive a salary in accordance with the rates of the State Steamship Union14.

Key documents relating the Henichesk port are numerous resolutions on the restoration of its work and repairing of piers destroyed during the Civil War. Thus, the report of the Henichesk county executive committee by July 16, 1923 "On Henichesk Port Use For Grain Export" indicated that due to the complete destruction of the Henichesk port, its wharves and warehouses, as well as lack of funds for repairs and works to restore the canals, transport section of the Henichesk district committee considers restoration of the port inappropriate15.

Works on the port restoration were stopped and started only in 1926. Henichesk District Committee of Communist Party of Ukraine adopted a resolution by April 1, 1926 indicating "... Because of its geographical position Henichesk port can be very convenient for items export and import, but has to be restored, so ask District Executive Committee to support the Presidium of the Executive Committee in submitting a request for the restoration of the port to the center"16.

In 1927, in the Henichesk port there were repaired two sections of pier of 56 and 74 linear sazhens long. The same year it was decided to resume the export of grain through the port of Henichesk (up to 1927 the transportation was carried through the port of Theodosia)17.

Because of freight resumption in 1928, the port warden Comrade Steshenko raises the question before the district party committee, Berdyansk port and the Central administration of maritime transport on the transformation of Henichesk bonded post of the third category into Henichesk bonded post of the first category. These changes were motivated by the fact Henichesk port was restored to 90 % in comparison with its pre-revolutionary condition being ready for use18.

On the way of the port development there was silting of the access duct, which managed to be partially eliminated during 1928-1929, when the port was conducted digging works by dredging caravans from the Kerch port19.

In 1929, the Bureau of Henichesk Party Committee approves the resolution "On the Prospects of Henichesk Port", which states that Henichesk port is one of the most important in the economy of the Melitopol district. Its turnover constituted 18 million tons a year, but after the Civil War it fell sharply and only in 1927 began to increase gradually. By 1929, Henichesk port was mainly a port for grain cargoes and had a 12 feet deep access duct. Because of low water and lack of equipment and storage facilities for export business the port lost a lot of money. Therefore, the bureau of district party committee decided to implement measures on improvement of the port, and namely: deepening of sea channel to 24 feet; construction of levees protecting the channel in order to reduce its siltation; the construction of the internal basin; construction of embankments for 30 feet high, mechanized construction of equipped storage facilities for grain up to 2 tons; the construction of access roads; construction of separate dock sidings for loading salt; purchase of a motor engine (Diesel locomotives) to clear the territory of the port from railway cars and provide timely delivery of salt and its further embarkation on steam ships, and the building of more extraction chambers at salt mines areas20.

However, implementation of the improvement measures failed. In 1931, Henichesk district party committee decided to dig a new access duct, expand of the port area, construction of new storage facilities etc. This time a cotton plant had been constructing, which raw materials and manufactured products were planned to export through the port of Henichesk21.

A new stage in the port activity was the start of passenger traffic in 1933 when the line Kerch – Henichesk – Berdyansk was supplied by motor sailing vessel ‘Uch-Dere’ with a cargo hold specially equipped for passengers22.

In 1935, they performed landscaping work of the port area, the territory was cleared from private residents and fenced23.

First financial profits from the port in the amount of 30 thousand rubles were obtained in 1936. In 1936-1937 port workers succeeded to reduce time of vessels demurrage as well as the self-cost of one ton of cargo recycling being awarded for it. For 7 months of 1937 the port received income in the amount of 50 thousand rubles. Nevertheless the availability of 17 Stakhanov followers among port workers a low labor discipline was common, every day some of the port workers were absent without permission on extra work at collective farms24.

During the second half of the 1930's, the Henichesk port turnover increased. In 1935 it amounted to 58,000 tons, in 1936 – 83,000 tons, in 1937 – the plan indicated the figure of 92,000 tons. We have to admit, that at the same time there was used a method of manual load processing, and issue of mechanization process had been constantly raised.

Henichesk port was subject to Berdyansk port, and in the same 1937 the conflict between management of the ports was escalated. During 8 months of 1937 senior management of Berdyansk port visited Henichesk only one time. It was considered a possibility to subordinate the port directly to shipping company instead of Berdyansk port25, but this issue has not been resolved.

In the late 30s - early 40s of the XX century there were frequent changes in the port management. In October 1939 Yeremenko Kuzma Antonovich was appointed the chief of Henichesk seaport. In April 1940 Shtukatur Ivan Lazarevych became the chief of the port. He led the port again in 1944, after the liberation from German occupation26.

In 1940, the port had its own power station, water supply, radio unit, the cargo area, and its turnover amounted to 70 thousand tons per year. Access duct and port water area can land vessels with a draft of up to 4 meters, a berth was 272 meters long. It was planned to build a bath-house, dormitory and room for waiting27.

Before the Great Patriotic War the Henichesk port lived everyday working life: repair of electro transporters equipment, dock, adjustment of power station work and electrification of port, planned opening of the dining room for port workers28.

It should be noted that the documents of 1941-1944 concerning Henichesk and its enterprises are not deposited in the regional state archives, that is why we have no possibility to trace the history of the Henichesk port activities during the Nazi occupation.

Henichesk was released by Red Army by October 30, 194329. During the occupation the port suffered considerable damage: water system and some berths were destroyed, access duct got shallower. Restoration started in 1944 with power station, mechanical and carpentry workshops and a smithy operating. However, the pier was not cleared of debris, warehouses were not prepared, port staff was often used not for remedial works being engaged in fishing30.

On December 1, 1946 Henichesk port was located in a non-operating condition. Employees usually performed work not for port. Thus, a mechanical workshop, construction and repair group performed orders of district organizations, local unscheduled transportation of cargo were carried in small amounts, in the fishing sector there were employed 8 anglers. In the absence of state subsidies, these works were the only source of livelihood for port workers.

The technical equipment of the port in 1946 consisted of one cargo warehouse (160 sq. m), two berths with a total length of 107 linear meters, loading and unloading equipment (4 belt conveyors such as "Yanvarets" with a length of 5 linear meters each always ready to operate); one GAZ-AA truck; mechanical shop was equipped with 1 lathe, 1 nail machine, 1 emery machine and electric welding machine; a smithy had 1 hand blown furnace, carpentry department with a workbench, power station of 36 kW (in working condition not used); auxiliary fleet consisted of motorboat (displacement of 7 tons and a capacity of 17 horsepower); 4 sailing launches (carrying capacity of 0.5-2 tons each), and 3 rowing launches (carrying capacity of 0.5-2 tons each). Depth at berths was of minimal 12 m, the bay was cleared completely while access duct was not purified.

At the port there were located service and industrial buildings, such as a brick house of the port administration, machine workshop and freight warehouse31.

In the memo "About the Prospects of Henichesk Port" by June 19, 1947 the Henichesk port chief V. I. Andreev indicated that the normal operating of the port had not been restored, except for minor fishing port in revenue for fisheries products, other cargo turnover of the port was not conducted32. By 1947 in the port there were restored 2 wooden berths, warehouse for cargo, machine workshops, power station and water supply. The port was cleared of sunken ships made sweeping bays and input channel. The port area was cleared of sunken ships, bay and input channel were trawled33.

Since the spring of 1944 there were arranged boat passenger traffic through Tonka Strait. Passenger traffic on the lines Henichesk – Biruchiy Island and Komisarivka – Henichesk was restored in 195434.

Since 1947 to 1956 the railway line to Henichesk port35 of 1 km long, destroyed during the Great Patriotic War, was rebuild. The documents of archival fond "Kherson Oblast Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine" include a nine-year correspondence on the matter. Many documents contain application for an equipment to deepen the access duct. However, despite all these difficulties in the fifties of the twentieth century Henichesk port began to increase the volume of freight. Thus, in 1953 through Henichesk port there were transported 731 tons of cargo, and in 1957 – 6543 tons36. But, as V. Pihulya noted, a turnover in Henichesk port in Soviet times had not reach the indicators of the early XX century37.

Since 1960s information about Henichesk port activities gradually disappears from the documents of the archival fonds, due to its direct subordination to Berdyansk port. Most papers present the decisions of the executive committee of Henichesk District Council on the allocation of land for construction of houses for the port workers, the construction of a paved road to the port and so on.

The history of industrial enterprises is a perspective research direction of economic development of the native land, as, after all, Henichesk port today is still the one of important centers of transportation in modern Ukraine.


* Lopushinska Iryna Volodymyrivna – a main specialist of the Documents Usage Department, State Archives of Kherson Oblast

1 Історія міст і сіл Української РСР. Херсонська область. – Київ, 1972. – С. 313.

2 Орлова З. С., Ратнер И. Д. Из истории заселения Херсонщины. Краткий справочник. – Херсон, 1993. – С. 64.

3 Історія міст і сіл Української РСР. Херсонська область. – Київ, 1972. – С. 314.

4 Известия Императорского общества для содействия Русскому торговому мореходству. Выпуск Х. – Москва, 1882. – С. 153–154.

5 Материалы для описания русских коммерческих портов и истории их сооружения. Вып. ХХ : Керч. Геническ, Ейск, Темрюк, Анапа. Результаты изысканий, произведенных в 1893–1894 гг. Атлас чертежей / Сост. инженер путей сообщения В. Ю. Руммель. – СПб., 1896. – С. 5–6.

6 Сборник по текущей статистике на 1887–1888 год / Статистическое бюро Таврического губернского земства. – Симферополь, 1888. – С. 32–33, 35.

7 Известия Императорского общества для содействия Русскому торговому мореходству. Выпуск VI. – Москва. – 1881. – С. 342–343.

8 Полное собрание законов Российской империи. Собрание 2-е. – СПб, 1901. – Т. 18. 1898 г. Отд. 1. От № 14861 – 16309 и Дополнения. – С. 115.

9 Державний архів Херсонської області (далі – Держархів Херсонської обл.), ф. Р-1979, оп. 5, спр. 89, арк. 1–2.

10 Пихуля В. М. Геническ и геничане. Геническ. – 1997. – С. 18.

11 Збірник узаконень і розпоряджень робітничо-селянського Уряду України. – Харків, 1921. – № 4. – С. 135; Збірник узаконень і розпоряджень робітничо-селянського Уряду України. – Харків, 1923. – № 18–19. – С. 310.

12 Збірник узаконень і розпоряджень робітничо-селянського Уряду України. – Харків, 1925. – № 29–30. – С. 233; Збірник узаконень і розпоряджень робітничо-селянського Уряду України. – Харків, 1930. – № 23. – С. 225; Зібрання законів і розпоряджень Уряду УСРР. – Харків, 1932. – № 5. – С. 28.

13 Наддніпрянська правда (Херсон). – 1944. – 21 травня.

14 Держархів Херсонської обл., ф. Р-1111, оп. 1, спр. 15, арк. 72.

15 Там само, ф. Р-1651, оп. 1, спр. 1, арк. 4.

16 Там само, ф. П-116, оп. 1, спр. 9, арк. 1, 65.

17 Там само, спр. 30, арк. 156, 16.

18 Там само, спр. 41, арк. 189, 190, 193.

19 Там само, ф. П-46, оп. 1, спр. 41, арк. 102.

20 Там само, ф. П-116, оп. 1, спр. 50, арк. 85, 89.

21 Там само, спр. 64, арк. 56, 69, 70.

22 Там само, ф. П-46, оп. 14, спр. 10, арк. 3, 4.

23 Там само, ф. П-116, оп. 1, спр. 202, арк. 103–103 зв.

24 Там само, спр. 254, арк. 78, 82–83.

25 Там само, арк. 85.

26 Там само, спр. 294, арк. 91; спр. 307, арк. 45.

27 Там само, спр. 307, арк. 76.

28 Там само, спр. 323, арк. 142, 152, 153.

29 Там само, ф. Р-1479, оп. 1, спр. 6, арк. 48.

30 Там само, ф. П-116, оп. 1, спр. 368, арк. 2, 3 зв.

31 Там само, оп. 3, спр. 173, арк. 4–5.

32 Там само, ф. П-46, оп. 1, спр. 2408, арк. 65.

33 Там само, спр. 788, арк. 15–16.

34 Там само, ф. П-116, оп. 3, спр. 162, арк. 147–148.

35 Там само, ф. П-46, оп. 1, спр. 2813, арк. 141; ф. П-116, оп. 13, спр. 23, арк. 42.

36 Там само, ф. П-116, оп. 13, спр. 23, арк. 42.

37 Пихуля В. М. Геническ и геничане. Геническ. – 1997. – С. 23.

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