Kerch, Adzhi-Mushkai, Crimea.
All year Tue-Sun 9-17.
Last entry 15:45.
Adults RUB 400, Children (6-16) RUB 100, Students RUB300.
|Guided tours:||L=440m, D=60min.|
|Address:||Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve, 298320, Republic of Crimea, Kerch, st. Sverdlova, 7, Tel: +7-36561-64769, Fax: +7-36561-64769. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1830||begin of limestone quarrying.|
|08 to 20-MAY-1942||Kesch peninsula occupied during Unternehmen Trappenjagd.|
|MAY to OCT-1942||Defense of the Adzhimushkay Quarry.|
|1966||Adzhimushkai branch of the Kerch Historical and Archival Museum created, underground museum of the defense of the Adzhimushkai quarries opened to the public.|
|1972||first speleological exploration.|
|1973||most numerous expedition which determined the central adit of the Great Quarries.|
|1982||memorial complex established.|
|2008||museum reopened after complete refurbishing.|
|2018||exhibition on weapons opened to the public.|
The museum and monument at Аджимушкайские каменоломни (Adjimushkay Quarries) is a bit strange for western eyes. The Russians call World War II the Great Patriotic War. They lost so many soldiers, without some pathos and patriotism the cruelties of this war would be unbearable. And the socialist realism which was used during Soviet times - and resembles so much the Blut und Boden art of Nazi Germany - is also rather exotic for us. Its hard to understand, but there was a small core of resistance which successful hid inside an underground quarry, for some months. What they did was defending a worthless quarry and thus tie up significant forces of the Wehrmacht, spray them across the territory of the USSR.
The huge quarries are underground limestone mining operations which were worked mainly during the 19th century for stone used to build houses in teh Kerch area. The locals used the limestone for various purposes. The quarries were mostly abandoned, but there were some eight kilometers of underground passages. And unlike natural caves there were hundreds of entrances and flat floors and ceilings. The miners followed the horizontal limestone layer and removed it, the result was a labyrinth of passages with flat floor and flat ceiling.
In November 1941 the German Wehrmacht reached the Ukraine and the Crimea pensinula. There was some forewarning, and preparations made. Three Soviet detachments operated on the Kerch Peninsula under the general command of I.I. Pakhomov. In May 1942 the German Wehrmacht and the Romanian army started an offensive with the code name Unternehmen Trappenjagd (operation bustard hunting) with the goal to occupy the Kerch peninsula. The German surprise attack began on 08-may-1942 at 4:15, after 3.5 hours they made a breakthrough. The plan was to contain the 51st Army. But a strong thunderstorm stopped the fight. On 11-MAY-1942 large parts of the Soviet 51st Army were surrounded, but near Kerch was tenacious resistance because they wanted to evacuate as many units as possible across the Strait of Kerch. The battle ended on 20-MAY-1942 and the penisula was occupied.
But there was a nest of resistance in the Adjimushkay Quarries. A defense group was left in Adzhimushkay, led by Colonel Pavel Yagunov. They absorbed retreating soldiers and numerous civilians fleeing the city. At the end several thousand people lived underground, estimates are 10,000 in the Great Adzhimushkay quarries, and 3,000 in the Small Adzhimushkay quarries. The main problem was the lack of supplies and all wells were located outside. In the first time they made sorties to gather water from the wells which were under German control. They also made several counterattacks, including one resulting in the defeat of the Wehrmacht garrison in Adzhimushkay in July. The Germans poisoned the wells by throwing dead Soviet soldiers in. Finally they resorted to extreme techniques of survival like preparing meat of the dead livestock rotting in the mine entrances and gathering water condensed on the mine ceilings. They also dug a 14m deep well to reach the ground water level by using grenades.
The German army surrounded the quarries with barbed wire fencing, blocked the entrances and bombed and shelled them. Many passages collapsed. And at the end the army proposed the use of gas, but the permission was denied. According to testimonies of survivors it was nevertheless done. And finally in OCT-1942 German forces entered the catacombs and captured the remaining defenders. From the 13,000 people in the quarries at the end only 300 survived, others claimed that only 48 survived. In NOV-1943 the Adzhimushkay quarry area was liberated by units of the Soviet 56th Army.
After the war the place soon became a sort of war memorial. The museum was opened in 1966, and during the 1970s and 1980s 13 speleological and archaeological expeditions into the quarries were carried out. Finally in 1982 a memorial to the heroes of the Adzhimushkai quarries was opened. Until 1983 2 million people visited the underground museum. There were numerous books written about the story and even movies made. Most famous is the movie Сошедшие с небес from 1986, which is almost unknown in the west, but nevertheless boasts 7.6 stars on imdb. The same rating as Lethal Weapon.
There is not much to say about the underground exhibition, The quarries are rather common, horizontal, flat floor and ceiling, room and pilar. The exhibition is solely on the war history. The description of expeditions into the quarry consist mainly of lists of participants and which party of which socialist country send them as a delegation to participate in the heroic attempt. That's quite different from regular caving expeditions, and its funny only for a very short time. However, the museum has been completely refurbished in 2008 and is now very well designed. Good lighting, modern design and based of the results of search work and analysis of preserved documents.