Solovki, the Special Purpose Solovetsky Camp, was the first permanent concentration camp of the Soviet regime. (Its Russian acronym SLON spelled “Elephant”.)
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
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.
- Vladimir Artemyev, inventor: imprisoned 1923-1925
- Osip Braz, Russian-Jewish realist painter: imprisoned 1924-1926
- Leonid Feodorov, Bishop and Exarch of the Russian Greek Catholic Church: imprisoned 1923-1929
- Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Georgian writer: imprisoned mid-1920s
- G.J.Gordon, historian:
- A.K.Gorsky (ru:Горский, Александр Константинович), poet: sent to Solovki (?) in 1929
- Jamo bey Hajinski, State Controller and Minister of Transportation, Postal Service and Telegraph of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic: imprisoned 1925-1928
- Archimandrite Illarion (Troitsky, ru:Иларион (Троицкий)), Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy: imprisoned 1924-1929
The First Five-Year Plan, 1928-1932
At first a prisoner on Solovki, Naftaly Frenkel became a leading cadre in the security services during the First Five-Year Plan.
The mass shooting on Solovki in 1929 described by Dmitry Likhachov (a key episode in Marina Goldovskaya’s 1987 film The Solovki Regime (Власть Соловецкая) was a sign of the harshening regime.
- Nikolai Antsiferov, historian: imprisoned 1929-1933
- Academician Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov, philologist: imprisoned 1928-1931, then worked on White Sea Canal until 1932
- Vladimir V. Tchernavin, ichthyologist: imprisoned 1931, then transferred to Kem
- Vladimir N. Beneshevich, historian, paleographer: imprisoned 1928-1933
- Oleg V. Volkov (ru:Волков, Олег Васильевич), writer: imprisoned 1928-1929, 1931-1936
- Mirjaqip Dulatuli, Kazakh writer: imprisoned 1928-1935 (died on Solovki)
- Klym Polishchuk, Ukrainian journalist, poet and writer sentenced for 10 years in 1929, executed in 1937
The mid-to late 1930s
Many of those on Solovki later in the 1930s fell victim to Stalin’s Great Terror and were shot, either in autumn 1937 at Sandarmokh or on Solovki in February 1938.
- A.V.Bobrishchev-Pushkin (ru:Бобрищев-Пушкин, Александр Владимирович), lawyer and descendant of Decembrist Pavel Sergeyevich Bobrishchev-Pushkin: imprisoned 1934-1937, shot at Sandarmokh on 27 October 1937, aged 61
- Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky, priest, scientist, encyclopaedist: imprisoned 1934-1937, shot at unknown location
- Nariman bey Narimanbeyov, State Controller of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920): died on Solovki in 1937, aged 48 (shot?)
- Karlo Štajner, a Yugoslavian communist: imprisoned 1937-1939
- M.N.Voronoi (ru:Вороной, Марк Николаевич), Ukrainian poet: imprisoned 1937, shot at Sandarmokh on 3 November 1937, aged 33
Re-classified as a high-security prison in 1936, becoming STON (or “groan”), Solovki was closed in 1939.