History of Kersey Kirza boots?
Kirza Jack Boots/ Kersey Boots
History of Russian Soviet Officer Kirza Boots
In the beginning of World War II, USSR faced a problem of footwear for millions of soldiers, as there was catastrophic lack of leather boots. A chemist Ivan V. Plotnikov was entrusted in the shortest possible time to improve the technology of artificial leather – kirza. Kirza is a pig leather imitation based on the multi-layer cotton fabric, modified by film-forming substances. The name kirza is an acronym from KIRovsky Zavod (Kirov Plant), the first place of kirza mass production.
The first time kirza was used during Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-1940, but the experiment was not successful. The material split and broke, did not keep warmth. Plotnikov made necessary improvements, and already in November, 1941 modernized kirza boots were brought into mass production. For this invention in 1942 Plotnikov and his team was awarded a Stalin Prize (second class) of 100,000 roubles. Invention of kirza boots was considered as important as invention of Katyusha rocket launcher and constructions of the famed Soviet airplanes. At the end for World War II Soviet Red Army had 10,000,000 soldiers wearing kirza boots. Till the end of 20th century kirza boots were the standard footwear for Soviet and Russian servicemen.
Kirza jack boots were worn together with a foot wrap. Foot wraps were more convenient than socks, because they could be made from locally available materials, dried faster, and frayed slower (as the material could be wrapped around a foot differently). Although the main advantage was that because of a foot wrap, a soldier could wear bigger size boots. All these advantages kept soldiers’ feet healthy and safe.
Till nowadays kirza is produced according to Plotnikov recepies of the war time. Specialists say that over the entire history 150,000,000 pairs of kirza boots were produced.
Kirza Boots Designs
The toe and the counter of the boot is made of yuft (also known as juft or Russia calf leather), boot-top is made of pure kirza, but sole - of wear-resistant rubber and nails. Sole design charged several times over the years. The first and the most rare design is a sole with ‘pimples’, it was created already before World War II, and the Red Army soldiers entered Berlin in boots with this sole. This sole design was produced till the middle 70’. In the middle 70’ sole design was changed to tractor-tyre-protector-like. This sole is the most widespread, it is produced till nowadays, only brass nails are changed to metal ones. There are also other designs like smooth sole, stepwise sole, and others. Kirza boots design also had many changes over the years: boots were producted with round or flat toes, with metal insets in the toes and without them, with short and long boot-tops, with or without straps. There are also very rare laced kirza boots for paratroopers.
Use of Kirza Boots
Soldiers’ kirza boots even nowadays are very serviceable and are specially made for using in extreme circumstances like walking in rough country, marshes or forests. Kirza boots are suitable for all seasons – they save feet from moisture, snow, cold or strong heat. Besides their historical value, kirza boots are an excellent choice for any hunter, angler or mushroom picker.
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