26 The Channel Built At The Price Of 200000 Lives

The Channel Built At The Price Of 200000 Lives

Posted on October 21, 2010 by team

The White Sea-Baltic channel is not a simple ship canal connecting the White Sea with Onega Lake. And it is also not an important transport object which is giving exit from the White Sea to The Baltic and The Caspian and the southern seas. It is the whole history, the beginning of the great camp buildings of the Soviet period. During its building not only water storage ponds and sluices have appeared – even new words were added in slangy speech. In the history of the channel three periods are singled out: its building (1930-s), the restoration after the war (50-s) and the present.

The channel appeared not from scratch. The White Sea-Onega connection is known from an extreme antiquity, and the first written descriptions of this way date from 15-16 centuries. The idea of building of a ship canal has appeared during the Northern war and belonged to Peter І, but working out of the channel’s project appeared only in the middle of the 18-th century. In 1922 on the basis of all previous materials the project of construction of the channel was developed.

The channel building began in April, 1930.

The nature has endowed Kareliya not only with rich forests and lakes, but also with rocks.

The White Sea-Baltic channel of I.V.Stalin (it has kept such name till 1961) has opened in August, 1933. According to official figures during its building (1931-1933) 10 936 prisoners died. According to unofficial data – from 50 to 200 thousands.

Pylons at the top chamber of a sluice №7 and the Memory Obelisk to the Fallen at a Sluice №5.

During the Great Patriotic War the channel as strategically important object, underwent destructions: its southern part has been completely destroyed. During the war the west coast of the channel was occupied by the Finns. In 1944 the Soviet army has blown up 7 sluices in near Poventsa. When the war was over, the damaged objects were restored and the channel was also put into operation again in July, 1946.

Since 2002  fromVolga and Kama to the White Sea oil barging began channel. It ended with flood of oil and pollution of the White Sea.

Tower of a sluice №5 and a lighthouse in Onega Lake.


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26 Responses to “The Channel Built At The Price Of 200000 Lives”

  1. gabriela says:


    a great undertaking!

  2. mukmika says:

    Very interesting, I like that church building. Too bad so many people died on this project.

  3. L.S.Zlatopolsky says:

    A nightmarish chapter of history under the criminal Djugasvili.

    • russky says:

      bla-bla-bla, you didn’t respect how lives of those people, that last great russian leader, also your history knowledges are very low. To make that statement in here.
      We are “love” you to, Polish… (sorry for my english)

    • Archy Bunka says:

      A. Bunka here. The criminal a criminal system put it power. I don’t understand: if the Marxists who placed Lenin on the throne were so smart, how did the concept of a peaceful, legal, transfer of power taking place escape them all, thereby resulting in the thug taking power? It would seem to me that men of goodwill, who suffered much under an unfair monarchy, would have banged this issue out. Why didn’t they?

  4. Left SR says:

    Right. Slave labor employed by psychopaths.

  5. Chris says:

    Insane, utterly insane.

  6. Nige says:

    Pegasus Bridge in France functions in the same way, but its a road bridge.

  7. kater says:

    Russians always killed their own ppl. During war and during peace time. Killed many millions. The 10-20 or 50 k that died here is nothing, really ;)

    Please stop making the mistake of calling WWII “the great patriotic war”. WWII is not your war, it was not fought to save or liberate Russia. On the contrary, apart from Germany, Russia is to blame for its outbreak. So, for future reference, just say “WWII”, and nothing else.

    • eger_666 says:

      cool story, troll :)

    • Left SR says:


    • Anon E Moose says:

      The policies of the USSR/CCCP has killed 35 million people. The Germans “only” killed 20 million.

      Joseph Stalin supposedly said “The killing of one person is a tragedy, the killing of millions (only) a statistic”

      Still, the American way has triumphed. After all, “Baywatch”, a TV show cancelled 20 years ago has an audience of 1 BILLION. What Russian/Commie TV shows has anyone seen lately ?

  8. CZenda says:

    Another tragic part of the story is thet IIRC the channel is too shallow, thus its useability is dubious from the very first moment.

  9. gacsat says:

    Wrong map.

  10. George Johnson says:

    USSR (or CCCP) at it’s finest……

    This is why I keep wondering why the Russians keep looking back “fondly” at these people and times.

  11. Testicules says:

    This would have been a better project if they had animatronic lions and crocodiles. Just like the jungle safari ride at disney.

  12. Otis R. Needleman says:

    Read Gulag Archipelago, you’ll learn more about this canal.

  13. Ric Locke says:

    Does correcting the English bother you? It isn’t criticism; I don’t know Russian at all, even have a hard time transliterating the Cyrillic.

    In English, a “sluice” is free-flowing and is used to transport the water itself, sometimes with a bulk material (sand, ore) mixed in. The machine or structure used on a canal to raise and lower ships using two gates to control water flow is a “lock”.


  14. i would like to learn more about the english language specially the english grammar ..

  15. frank says:

    and a man made structure like this is not called a channel but a canal. A channel is like the channel between England and France, or it may be the shipping lane in a river or lake.
    But thank you for the article and the beautiful pictures.

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