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Video: What Is GULAG

Video: The Horrible Life of People In Soviet Gulags 2022, December

The main directorate of camps and places of detention of the NKVD of the USSR (GULag) is one of the main terrible creatures of the Stalin era. In inhuman conditions, his prisoners worked at the largest construction sites of the first five-year plans. For many of them, this slave labor cost their lives.

Solovki - the symbol of the Gulag
Solovki - the symbol of the Gulag

The Main Directorate of Camps and Correctional Institutions (GULag) was formed in the USSR in 1934. This event was preceded by the transfer of all Soviet correctional institutions from the subordination of the USSR People's Commissariat of Justice to the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs.

At first glance, the banal departmental reassignment of all camps and prisons actually pursued far-reaching plans. The country's leadership intended to widely use forced free labor of prisoners at construction sites of the national economy. It was necessary to create a single clear system of correctional institutions with their own economic management bodies.

At its core, the Gulag was something like a huge construction syndicate. This syndicate united many central administrations, divided according to the territorial and sectoral principle. Glavspetstsvetmet, Sredazgidstroy, Northern branch of the camp railway construction…. These completely harmless titles of chapters can be enumerated for a long time. An uninitiated person would never guess that behind them are dozens of concentration camps with hundreds of thousands of prisoners.

Conditions of detention in the Gulag

The conditions of detention of prisoners in the Gulag do not lend themselves to normal human comprehension. The mere fact of the high mortality rate of the inhabitants of the camps, which in some years reached 25 percent, speaks for itself.

According to the testimony of the former, miraculously surviving prisoners of the Gulag, the main trouble in the camps was hunger. There were, of course, approved nutritional standards - extremely meager, but not allowing a person to starve to death. But the food was conceived to be stolen by the administration of the camps.

Illness was another problem. Epidemics of typhoid, dysentery and other infectious diseases flared up constantly, and there was no medicine. There was almost no medical staff. Tens of thousands of people died from disease every year.

All these hardships were completed by the cold (the camps were mainly located in the northern latitudes) and hard physical labor.

Labor efficiency and achievements of the Gulag

The labor efficiency of the Gulag prisoners has always been extremely low. The camp administrations took various measures to increase it. From brutal punishments to incentives. But neither brutal torture and humiliation for non-compliance with production standards, nor increased nutritional standards and reduced prison terms for shock work did little to help. Physically exhausted people simply could not work effectively. And yet, much was created by the hands of the prisoners.

Having existed for a quarter of a century, the Gulag was disbanded. He left behind a lot of things that the USSR could be proud of for many years. After all, official historians, for example, argued that Komsomolsk-on-Amur was built by volunteer Komsomol members, and not by prisoners of the Amurstroy Gulag headquarters. And the White Sea-Baltic Canal is the result of the valiant labor of ordinary Soviet workers, not prisoners of the Gulag. The revealed truth of the Gulag horrified many.

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