Gulag – Economy and Political Labor Camps Keeping Staling in Power

Avatar

/ published 1 year ago

Gulag – Economy and Political Labor Camps Keeping Staling in Power

Stalin built these camps between 1931 and 1933. The first massive construction project was the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal. More than 100,000 prisoners dug a 141-mile canal with few tools other than shovels, wheelbarrows, and pickaxes

GULAG is an acronym for the Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies of the Soviet Secret Police. Nowadays, it is a symbol of the slave labor and tyranny of the Stalin era. The camps were located in remote regions of Siberia and the Far North. They made significant contributions to the Soviet economy.

Stalin built these camps between 1931 and 1933. The first massive construction project was the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal. More than 100,000 prisoners dug a 141-mile canal with few tools other than shovels, wheelbarrows, and pickaxes. They worked for 20 months. Many of the prisoners died during the construction. These camps were vital for Stalin’s rise, and the economic growth of the Soviet Union.


During the Gulag system, there were more than 30,000 camps. They were divided into three categories according to the number of prisoners they held. Largest camps consisted of more than 25,000 prisoners. Smallest camps had up to 5,000 people. Most of these camps served mining, construction, and timber works.

Stalin’s Gulag and Expansion of Economy

Gulag was officially established on April 25, 1930 by the OGPU order 130/63 in accordance with the Sovnarkom order 22p. It was renamed as Gulag in November of that year.

The development of the Gulag camps coincided with the peak of the Soviet industrialization campaign. Most of the camps accommodated incoming prisoners. They were assigned distinct economic tasks. For example, the prisoners were used for exploitation of natural resources and colonization of remote areas. But most importantly, they were used for enormous infrastructural facilities and construction projects.


During the 1930s, the tightening of the penal policy caused growth of the prison camp population. Even the number of higher education prisoners increased by more than eight times.

Politic Role During World War II

On the eve of World War II, archives from the Soviet Union indicate that the number of prisoners in Gulag camps was between 1.6 million and 1.9 million. The Soviets even increased the number of people in Gulag camps during WWII. The Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Latvia, Bukovina, and other countries. They arrested more than 300,000 Polish prisoners of war during the Polish Defensive War. Almost all of the captured officers and soldiers were sent to Gulags.

How many people died in the Gulag?

Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, estimates of Gulag victims were between 2.3 to 17.6 million. Mortality in Gulag camps was 6 times higher than average in the Soviet Union. After 1991, thanks to access to documents and history archives, the number was brought down.

According to a study in 1993, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag between 1934 and 1953. However, you have to take into account that people who were suffering from incurable disease or were near death were released from the camp. That was a trick so they die outside of the camp. This could bring the number of victims by 1.6 million.

Conditions in the Gulag

Living and working conditions varied across time and place. They depended on events like World War II, shortages, sudden influx or release of large number of prisoners, and so on.

However, one thing was certain. Prisoners faced meagre food rations, inadequate clothing, overcrowding, poorly insulated housing, and so on. Poor hygiene was a standard in the camps. Prisoners were not getting adequate health care.


Most prisoners had to perform harsh physical labor. Tools were primitive and machinery was short in supply. Officially established work hours were longer and days off were fewer than for civilian workers. Andrei Vyshinsky, who was a procurator of the Soviet Union, wrote a memorandum in 1938. It shows the state of the prisoners, stating “among the prisoners that are some so ragged and lice-ridden, they pose a sanitary danger to the rest. These prisoners have deteriorated to the point of losing any resemblance to human beings. Lacking food, they collect orts, eat rats and dogs”.

Who was sent to the Gulag?

There were three main categories of prisoners in the Gulag. They were:

  • People convicted to a term of imprisonment of more than three years, those convicted to less than three years were sent to corrective labor colonies
  • Soviet dissidents, and anyone under the infamous Article 58 Penal code that covered “counter-revolutionary activities”
  • Soviet combatants returned from captivity, who were held liable under Article 58

From Around the Web

Related Videos

In Africa, woman is not Adam's rib, at most, she is his shoulders and spinal column. For the vast majority of African women, even today, in the cities and in the countryside, their...

  • 139
  • 1 week ago
  • Not Rated

If you think rats are useless, think again. This documentary takes a look at Africa’s giant rats. They are the size of a cat.And the best part is they can be trained to detect la...

  • 148
  • 2 weeks ago
  • Not Rated

Mr Right, Prince Charming, the Perfect Guy, women have so many names for the ideal husband and partner. He is a suitor who fulfils the dreams of his beloved.Most women acknowledge ...

  • 118
  • 2 weeks ago
  • Not Rated
Lifestyle
islamic architecture
youtube icon
01:42:06

Islamic architecture is one of the world’s most celebrated building traditions. Famous for its radiant colors, rich patterns, and symmetrical silhouettes, this approach has been ...

  • 754
  • 4 months ago
  • 10(1)
Related Articles
The most common dance is the intertribal, where a Drum will sing a song and anyone who wants to can come and dance. The ...
  • 825
  • 6 months ago
The Tudors royal family ruled England from 1485 to 1603. They were a Welsh-English family overseeing one of the most exc...
  • 968
  • 6 months ago
The dolls outnumber the people in Nagoro by 10 to 1. The dolls resemble scarecrows, and they ca be found anywhere in the...
  • 942
  • 8 months ago
Women who do not wear lip plates are considered lazy and will not warrant as large a bride wealth. The lip plates can be...
  • 1,416
  • 9 months ago