The Gulag system in the USSR


2018-03-17 18:00:54




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History of the Gulag is closely intertwined with the entire Soviet era, but especially its Stalinist period. The network of camps stretching across the country. They visited the different groups of the population indicted in the famous 58-th article. The GULAG was not only a system of punishment, but the formation of the Soviet economy. The prisoners carried out the most ambitious projects of the first five.

Origin of Gulag

The Future Gulag system began to take shape immediately after coming to power of the Bolsheviks. During the Civil war, the Soviet government began to cut their class and ideological enemies into special concentration camps. Then this term is not shunned, the other is really a terrible rating he received from the atrocities of the Third Reich.

The First camp was run by Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin. Mass terror against “counterrevolutionary” included the indiscriminate arrests of the rich bourgeoisie, factory owners, landowners, merchants, leaders, etc. Soon the camp was given to the Cheka, the Chairman of which was Felix Dzerzhinsky. They were organized forced labor. This was necessary in order to raise the shattered economy.

If in 1919, in the RSFSR was only 21 camp, by the end of the Civil war there were already 122. In Moscow alone, such institutions there were seven, where prisoners were brought from all over the country. In 1919, the capital was more than three thousand people. This was not the Gulag system, but only its type. Even then, there was a tradition, according to which all activities in OGPU subject only to internal acts, and not the General Soviet legislation.


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The First labor camp in the Gulag system existed in emergency mode. Civil war, war communism had led to lawlessness and violation of the rights of prisoners.



In 1919, the Cheka was established several labor camps in Northern Russia, or rather, in the Arkhangelsk province. Soon this network was called the ELEPHANT. The acronym stood for "Northern camps of special designation". GULAG system in the Soviet Union appeared even in the most remote regions of the large country.

In 1923, the Cheka was transformed into the GPU. The new office has several different initiatives. One of them was the proposal to establish a new mandatory camp on the Solovetsky archipelago, which was near the most Northern camps. Before that the Islands in the White sea there was an ancient Orthodox monastery. It was closed in the struggle with the Church and “bottoms”.

So there was one of the key symbols of the Gulag. It was the Solovetsky special purpose camp. His project was proposed by Joseph Unshliht – one of the then leaders of the Cheka-GPU. His fate is significant. This man has contributed to the development of the system of repression, the victims of which he eventually became. In 1938, he was shot at the famous ground “project”. This place was the summer house of Henry Berry – people's Commissar of the NKVD in the 30-ies. He, too, was shot.

The Solovki became one of the main camps in the Gulag 20 years. According to the order of the OGPU it was supposed to contain criminal and political prisoners. A few years after the appearance of Solovki has grown, they have offices on the mainland, including in the Republic of Karelia. The Gulag system was constantly expanded by new prisoners.

In 1927, in the Solovetsky camp were 12 thousand people. The harsh climate and the unbearable conditions led to regular deaths. For all time of existence of the camp was buried in it more than 7 thousand people. However, about half of them died in 1933, when the whole country was raging hunger.

Solovki was known throughout the country. Information about the problems inside the camp tried not to stand out. In 1929, the archipelago came Maxim Gorky, who were the main Soviet writer. He wanted to check the conditions of detention in the camp. The reputation of the writer was impeccable: his books were published in huge numbers, he was known as a revolutionary of the old school. So many prisoners had pinned on him the hope that he will publicize everything that happens in the walls of a monastery.

Before Bitter was on the island, the camp was a total clearance and was put in a decent appearance. Abuse of prisoners has stopped. The prisoners were threatened that if they told anyone Bitter about their lives, they will be severely punished. The writer, having visited Solovki, was delighted with how prisoners are re-educated, taught to work and return to society. However, at one such meeting, decolonize, Gorky came to the boy. He told the honorable guest about bullying captors: torture in the snow, overtime work, standing in the cold, etc. Gorky left the barracks in tears. When he sailed to the mainland, the boy was shot. The Gulag system dealt harshly with any unhappy prisoners.

Gulag system in the USSR

Stalin's GULAG

In the 1930s, finally formed the GULAG system under Stalin. It was subordinated to the NKVD, and was one of the five major departments in the people's Commissariat. Also in 1934 the GULAG moved all correctional facilities that belonged to the people's Commissariat of justice. Labor camps was legally approved in the Corrective Labour code of the RSFSR. Now, numerous prisoners had to implement the most dangerous and ambitious of economic and infrastructural projects: construction projects, digging of channels, etc.

The Authorities did everything to the GULAG system in the Soviet Union seemed to be free citizens of the norm. To do this, run regular ideological campaigns. In 1931, construction began on the famous white sea canal. It was one of the most significant projects of Stalin's first five year plan. The Gulag system is one of the economic mechanisms of the Soviet state.

To ensure that the layman could learn about the construction of the white sea canal in positive tones, the Communist party instructed the well-known writers to prepare laudatory book. So there was a work “the Canal named after Stalin». It was the work of a group of authors: Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Pogodin and Shklovsky. Particularly interesting is the fact that the book spoke positively about bandits and thieves, whose work was also used. The GULAG system of the Soviet economy occupied an important place. Cheap bonded labor allowed at an accelerated pace to implement the objectives of the five-year plans.

the Gulag system is a

Political and criminals

The System of the GULAG camps were divided into two parts. It was a world of political and criminals. The last of them the state recognized “socially close”. This term was popular in Soviet propaganda. Some criminals tried to cooperate with the camp administration, to facilitate their existence. Thus from them the government demanded loyalty and spying on political.

Numerous "enemies of the people", and convicted for alleged espionage and anti-Soviet propaganda had no opportunity to protect their rights. Most often, they resorted to hunger strikes. With their help, the political prisoners tried to get the administration's attention to the harsh living conditions, abuse and bullying jailers.

Single of the hunger strike came to nothing lead. Sometimes the NKVD would only increase the suffering of the convict. To do this, before the fast was put the plates with the delicious food and scarce products.

Anti protest

The Camp administration could draw attention to the hunger strike only if it was a mass. Any agreed action prisoners led to the fact that some of them were looking for instigators, which dealt with cruelty.

For Example, in Uhtpechlag in 1937, a group convicted of Trotskyism on a hunger strike. Any organized protest was seen as counter-revolutionary activities and the threat to the state. This led to the fact that in the camps there was an atmosphere of denunciation and distrust of the prisoners to each other. However, in some cases, the organizers of the hunger strikes, on the contrary, openly announced his initiative for a simple case of despair in which they found themselves. In Uhtpechlag the founders arrested. They refused to testify. Then Troika of the NKVD sentenced the activists to death.

If a form of political protest in the Gulag was a rarity, riots were commonplace. Their founders were usually criminals. Convicted under the 58th article were often the victims of criminals who carried out the orders of his superiors. Representatives of the criminal world were free from work or have held an inconspicuous position in the office of the camp.

Gulag system under Stalin

Skilled labor in the camp

This practice was associated with the fact that the Gulag system was suffering from the shortcomings of professional staff. The NKVD sometimes had no education. Camp officials often had no choice but to put on the economic and administrative-technical posts themselves prisoners.

Among the political prisoners was a mass of people of different professions. Especially in demand was “technical intelligentsia” engineers, etc. In the early 30-ies it was the people who received education in tsarist Russia and remained special...

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Alin Trodden - author of the article, editor
"Hi, I'm Alin Trodden. I write texts, read books, and look for impressions. And I'm not bad at telling you about it. I am always happy to participate in interesting projects."

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