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How remains of Stalin's gulag railroad look like now, - The Guardian

In memory of thousands of people executed during Josef Stalin's Great Terror, the Guardian has presented a photo essay on remnants of one of the Soviet Union’s most notorious gulag projects, situated in the Russian Arctic
19:30, 29 October 2018

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

'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.

Open source

The railroad would have connected Russia’s Arctic waters with its western railway network,' the outlet wrote.

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

The documentation of the forced-labor camps for criminals, dissidents, and those who seemed to be oppositional to the Soviet system remain secret.

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

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.

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

The project was stopped after Stalin died in 1953 and the railway’s gulag camps remained abandoned. 

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Nowadays, these places are extremely remote to be reached by usual means of transport (of course, if it is no balloon-tired Trekol).

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

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.”

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

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]'.

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

'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.

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Since the project was canceled, the created infrastructure went dilapidated.

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

The survivors confess that the hardest thing now is to realize that tens of thousands of human lives went for nothing…

Amos Chapple/RFE/RL

Read the original text at The GUARDIAN.

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