Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Gulag Online

Gulag Online is a virtual museum and interactive set of maps that lets you travel through a labor camp and learn about the daily lives of 
Stalin's prisoners.

A zoom way out shows the hemispheric reach of the gulag system.

Zoom in on an area for details,

including camp diagrams
Some of these are from visits, while some can be seen from aerial photography.
Many of these camps are located along the Dead Road, a trans-polar railway that was to run almost 1,500 kilometers from Salekhard to Igarka (seen below on a military map)
An estimated 100,000 prisoners worked on this railroad between 1947 and 1953. The project was abandoned after Stalin's death. The extreme remoteness of the region has helped preserve many of these camps. Numbers below show dense clusters of camps.
 Here is a quote from the site about the Dead Road:
"it was clear to almost everyone in the leadership of the USSR that prisoners’ slave labour in the corrupt Gulag system was wasteful and desperately inefficient. Only Stalin failed to realise this and he was obsessed by similar construction projects. To this day, it is still not completely clear – even to Russian historians – what made him want to link the uninhabited and hostile environment of Siberia’s Polar regions by railway. It was most probably for strategic reasons."

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