Zaporizhzhia is one of the main industrial centers of Ukraine, and not just Ukraine, as local factories are among the largest in their field globally. The Zaporizhzhia Automobile Building Plant produces its own cars as well as Opel and Daewoo, while metallurgy can boast Zaporizhstal, the Titanium-Magnesium Plant, the Ferroalloy Plant, the Aluminum Plant, and the Foundry and Mechanical Plant. However, the most impressive symbol of Zaporizhzhia’s industrial capacity is probably the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Station (HPS), which changed the local terrain itself.
For centuries, the magnificent Dnipro River was only navigable up to the edge of what is now Zaporizhzhia. Further down the river, there were terrible rapids — stone rocks in the water that turned the flow of the majestic river into something deadly. In fact, the name Zaporizhzhia itself means “what is beyond the rapids” in Ukrainian.
However, in 1927, the construction of the Dnipro HPS, which was to change both the course of the Dnipro River and the lives of thousands of people, began. Already in 1931, the water level started to rise, submerging the first rapids, and in 1933, even the last ones were covered by water at the depth of several tens of meters.
However, such large projects have always had a downside. During the construction of the Dnipro HPS, an area of several hundred square kilometers, including fifty different villages, was flooded and thousands of people were forced to leave the places where they and their ancestors had lived, and everything that was valuable to them was submerged.
People’s lives never mattered much to totalitarianism, which the further fate of the Dnipro HPS confirms: during World War II, the dam was blown up by Soviet soldiers themselves. A thirty-meter [100.03 ft] wave struck both German and Soviet troops and civilians, with the exact number of casualties being unknown, though some estimates suggest even up to one hundred thousand people. Later, the Germans also blew up the Dnipro HPS, and it was not operational again until 1947 when 250 meters [820.21 ft] of concrete in length and 50 meters [164.04 ft] in height dammed one of the largest rivers on the continent.
Another powerful industrial object in the region is currently experiencing its most terrifying days. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is the largest in Europe and one of the three largest in the world. During the year of full-scale war, the territory around this strategic object was shelled several times by the Russians, posing a threat of a global catastrophe. In early March, the Russian army captured the NPP, after which Ukraine and international supervisory bodies lost control over it. The threat of a catastrophe remains extremely high as the Russians have mined the territory and declared that “there will be either Russian land here or a scorched desert.”