GULAG was a most massive Soviet system of imprisonment. In the period 1930-1956 over 10 million people (some say 30 million) were jailed and sent to GULAG. After the Stalin’s death the GULAG camps started to be closed down gradually. Not much left till this day. Just a few of them haunt us all as an echoes of old past. Some are in ruins some became museums.
1. Perm-36 – this was a long lasting camp. They were accepting prisoner till year 1988. During GULAG times arrest ex-law enforcers were sent here. Later – political prisoners.
Six years after it was closed down it was durned into a museum and memorial complex.
Everything got renovated and the object later got included into 100th most protected cultural monuments of the world list.
2. Coal mine “Dneprovsky”. Near the Kolyma river there still visible wooden ruins of the mine. It was a prison camp “Dneprovsky”. In 1920s they found tin deposit in local grounds and prisoners were sent to mine it. Not only Soviet ones, also Finish, Greek, Hungarian and Japanese citizens were forced to work here.
Ex-prisoner Pepelyaev recalls about those times: “Worked for two shifts, 12 hours, no weekends. Food was brought to work – food included 0.5 liter of soup, 200 grams of oats and 300 gram of bread. At night it was easier to work – no inspections were hold at night so you could sleep sometimes”.
3. “Highway built on bones”. This is a 1,600 km long route from Magadan to Yakutsk. It’s construction started in 1932. During its construction tens of people were dying each day from exhaustion. Over 10,000 people died while the road was finished. They were buried right under the road. For this it was called “Highway built on bones”.
Prison camps were built right on the sidewalk of this road. However now it all stays abandoned as a new road was later built nearby.
4. “Karlag” or Karaganda Work Camp. It existed since 1930 till 1959. Was occupying a huge territory of 300 by 200 kilometers! Locals were deported from this place at first, but later they were allowed to settle nearby so that they could produce food for the camp.
Inside this 200×300 peremiter there were seven huge prison camps. Over 20,000 prisoners lived there.
Recently a monument was open to commemorate all affected.
5. Solovki. Solovki is an island archipelago in the White Sea, Russia. There is a monastery and the monastery prison has long history. It was first built in the begining of XVII century. All the priests who didn’t obey the Tsar was sent here. In 1932 Moscow decided to extend Gulag to Northern territories and the old monastery prison became handy.
Solovki islands became on of the most huge Soviet prison camp. The amount of prisoners was pumped from 2,300 in 1923 to 71,000 in 1930.
Now there is only a monastery left on the island. No traces of all those camps.
This huge prison system was unique to USSR and unprecendented in terms of violence and cruelty towards its own people. Nobody got mercy – even the Bolsheviks were killing each other in the crazy race for the survival. Russian writer Solzhenitsyn who spent years in the prison camps and then left for the USA got it this way:”Many authorities were cruelly imprisoning any ex-authority who got out of party grace, for tomorrow to repeat their fate themselves. And all the top Bolsheviks who became martyrs at first they were executioners.”