Location Layout And Geography of the gulag camps

674 words (3 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 History Reference this


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Where were the camps

The majority of Gulag camps were constructed in exceptionally remote areas of north-eastern Siberia along the Kolyma River and near Nirilsk.

In the south-eastern parts of the Soviet Union, there were vast and sparsely inhabited regions where the only roads were built by the inmates of specialized railroad camps. Camps were also located in Taiga, a huge forest in Russian Siberia. Now, all roads are overgrown and only a helicopter can reach those sites. Camps were constructed almost everywhere in Russia to increase the amount of people they could imprison.

* Why they put it there (strategically placed)

Gulag camp locations were chosen in areas of isolation, or in remote monasteries that could be reused as sites for new camps. These secluded Gulag Camps were made to colonize and populate people everywhere in Russia. For example, the area along the Indigirka river was known as the Gulag inside the Gulag. In 1926, the Oimiakon village in this region registered the record low temperature of −71.2 °C. After noticing this, it is clear why people did not willing live in that area of the Soviet Union. Because the Gulags were means of cheap labor, new camps would be constructed wherever the Soviet Union needed economic stability. For example, major facilities in large cities as well as Universities such as Moscow Metro and Moscow State University were built partly by forced labor.

A major subdivision known as “The Perm” was a heavily concentrated area of gulag camps. About 150,000 inmates were imprisoned in more than 150 camps in the Perm region during the late 1940s. This made up about one-third of the total working population of the region.

* What it looked like- camp layout

* Where else were the camps? Which one was the wrorst?

While Camps were generally spread throughout the entire Soviet Union, they were also present in European parts of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Mongolia, which were partly controlled by the Gulag.

Kolyma, for example, was a name that struck fear into the Gulag prisoner as it is the coldest inhabited place on the planet, where there are 12 months of winter. Kolyma was so remote that it could not be reached by an overland route, and surviving Kolyma was said to be more difficult than any other Gulag camp.

* Escape (Guards, dogs, weather, death, empty)

Because many of the inmates had prison sentences of over 10 years in the Gulag camps, the possibility of escape was worth considering. However, escape was challenging because of the harsh elements, tracking dogs, guard incentives, and isolated camp locations.

Even when logging in a forest clearing, all attempts to escape could be observed by the four guard towers set in each corner.

Barbed wire, fences, Guard Towers, Search Dogs, harsh elements, civilization.

Assistance in escape was provided by native tribes during the 1920s and 1930s; however, many of the tribes became victimized to escaped thieves. When escape seemed to be too easy with the assistance of the tribes, the authorities offered large rewards for the capture of escaped Gulag inmates. Because the help of a Camp guard would make for an easy escape, guards were also given stern incentive to keep their inmates in line at all costs. In the event that a prisoner escaped under a guard’s watch, the guard would often be stripped of his uniform and charged for treason, becoming a Gulag inmate himself. Another difficulty in escaping was the shoot to kill order, where guards could not be charged or punished for shooting an escaping poisoner.

Everyone who tried to escape the Gulag had almost no chance of surviving. They had to walk hundreds of kms through forested wilderness… the direction hardly mattered because the people had nowhere to run. The whole country was one big prison labor camp.

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