'From 1947 until 1953, tens of thousands of prisoners, many of them 'politicals' convicted for 'anti-Soviet acts', were shipped to northern Russia to lay a railroad through some of the harshest terrains on Earth.
The railroad would have connected Russia’s Arctic waters with its western railway network,' the outlet wrote.
The documentation of the forced-labor camps for criminals, dissidents, and those who seemed to be oppositional to the Soviet system remain secret.
Stalin’s initial plan looked like paving the ways, the railways in particular, in order to supply a planned naval port and connect northern nickel mines to Soviet factories in the west.
The project was stopped after Stalin died in 1953 and the railway’s gulag camps remained abandoned.
Nowadays, these places are extremely remote to be reached by usual means of transport (of course, if it is no balloon-tired Trekol).
The Guardian cites one of the survivors: 'Nowhere to run, there were just swamps and midges. [Escapees] were cruelly punished: They were caught, stripped naked, and tied up until the gnats bit them to death within two to three hours.”
However, the greatest challenge to the prisoners was harsh climatic conditions, as the winter temperatures were lower than -40C. Under these circumstances, the mortality was really high, and the witness recalls seeing a cemetery for prisoners that stretched 'almost to the taiga [boreal forest]'.
'They didn’t put crosses on their graves, just small pegs with camp numbers.' It is said that most engineers involved in building the railway worked for free, while the heavy labor was carried out by prisoners.
Since the project was canceled, the created infrastructure went dilapidated.
The survivors confess that the hardest thing now is to realize that tens of thousands of human lives went for nothing…
Read the original text at The GUARDIAN.