In 1991 the city of Samara, Russia, located on the Volga river 700 miles south-east of Moscow, discovered one of Stalin’s bunkers had been hidden under their city since 1942.
Samara, renamed Kuybyshev in the honor of a Bolshevik leader in 1935, was designated as the USSR’s second capital city, in case Moscow fell to the German Army. The bunker was built in nine months by a team of 800 engineers and 2,900 workers who worked secretly around the clock. General opinion is that the construction crew was made up of convicts who were killed after completion of the bunker, though no proof has yet to be found. It is still a mystery how the workers and construction equipment went unseen by the locals.
Presently located under the Academy of Culture and Skill, the bunker is 37 meters deep, which is the equivalent to a 12-story building. Compared to other bunkers of the time, this was the deepest. Hitler’s Berlin bunker was only 16 meters deep. The self-contained air recycling system and power station were still in working order upon discovery. The bunker could withstand a direct hit from an aerial bomb. It could be airtight and those inside could live for up to 5 days.
The ground floor contains 2 rooms, the main chamber which could hold 115 people, and Stalin’s personal chamber. The upper levels held rooms for the guards, technical support staff and storage.
Stalin never needed to stay at the bunker. It remained a secret to Samara citizens until 1991, when it was found, and later turned into a museum.