Just northwest of Odessa is a small village called Nerubayske. There are catacombs with a total length of about 250 kilometers. Parts of the catacombs were hiding places for party groups during the Second World War. The Romanian occupying power was well aware of the catacombs at Nerubayske and that they were used by partisans. The problem was just that you did not know exactly where the partisans were among all the aisles. However, the partisans did not use all the aisles, but a few of which they had good knowledge. However, the Romanians did not have the same knowledge of the catacombs, which made it difficult for them to carry out any successful attacks. Some attacks were carried out, but without success. The Romanians did not dare to advance too far into the catacombs because they then risked being lost and captured by the partisans. A few attempts were made to capture the catacombs but these failed. The Romanians tried, among other things, to bring gas through the entrances, but the partisans managed to divert the gas from the inhabited passages to uninhabited passages.

Life in the catacombs was a life of darkness and a constant struggle for survival. But it was established sleeping places, socializing rooms, washrooms, workshop and a hospital where it was possible to perform simple operations. But in order to obtain supplies, the partisans had to leave the catacombs and go to nearby villages or into Odessa. In October 1942, the party leader, along with a couple of other partisans, went into Odessa in civilian clothes. They were later betrayed, captured and executed. No natural successor was available and the partisans therefore left the catacombs. Some split up and sought other partisan units. For a few years after the war, the catacombs were used by criminals and groups because it was difficult for the authorities to find them there.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2009).

Location: 46°32'15.6"N 30°37'34.0"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

It is easy to get lost among the aisles and therefore the catacombs can only be visited in the company of a guide. A persistent hearsay says that a young woman got lost and died and was found much later. Some of what can be seen in the catacombs are original while others are reconstructions to give the visitor a picture of what it was like. To make it more comfortable for visitors, the museum has raised the ceiling height in the part of the catacombs that are part of the museum.

Follow up in books: Slepyan, Kenneth: Stalin’s Guerrillas: Soviet Partisans in World War II (2006).