Solovki

Solovki, the Special Purpose Solovetsky Camp (or SLON), was the first permanent concentration camp of the Soviet regime.

Solovetsky Islands (map).png

Set up in 1923 on a group of islands in the White Sea, it began with a mixed population of left-wing political opponents of the Bolsheviks (Anarchists, Socialist Revolutionaries) and criminals. Its purpose and the changing nature of the Soviet regime can be easily seen by comparing lists of its prisoners over three distinct periods.

The inmates of SLON

The 1920s

In the 1920s many of those sent to Solovki were released back into society, but often then arrested and imprisoned (or exiled) a second time.

The First Five-Year Plan, 1928-1932

Naftaly Frenkel was a prisoner on Solovki who became a leading cadre in the security services during the First Five-Year Plan.

The mass shooting on Solovki in 1929 described by Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov (it forms a key episode in Marina Goldovskaya’s 1987 film The Solovki Regime (Власть Соловецкая) was a sign of the harshening regime.

The mid- to late 1930s

Many of those on Solovki later in the 1930s fell victim to Stalin‘s Great Purge and were shot, either in autumn 1937 at Sandarmokh or on Solovki in February 1938.

Re-classified as a high-security prison in 1936, becoming STON (or “groan”), Solovki was closed in 1939.

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SOLOVKI TODAY

Solovetsky Monastery, 2013