“Special” Settlements, 1930-1933

Dispossession, imprisonment, deportation and famine

After experimenting in Siberia the previous autumn and winter, the November 1929 plenum of the Communist Party Central Committee decided to proceed with the forced collectivization of the countryside and the “liquidation of the kulaks as a social group” (a process also known as “dekulakization”).

The collectivization campaign supported a double objective: one, it would “extract” – the term used in confidential instructions — all elements prone to actively oppose forced collectivization; two, it would “colonize” vast inhospitable regions of the Russian North, the Urals, Siberia and Kazakhstan through the resettlement of entire “kulak” families.

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Deaths on the White Sea Canal, 1931-1933

According to official figures, during the construction of Belomor, the White Sea Canal, 2.24% of the prisoners in the BelBaltlag camp complex died in 1931 (1,438 persons), 2.03% died in 1932 (2,010 persons) and in 1933, due to famine in the USSR and the rapidly approaching deadline to finish the project, 10.56% of the prison workforce died (8,870 persons).

Working on White Sea Canal (Wiki)

Building the canal (photo, Wikipedia)

Seventy years later, in August 2003, Yury DMITRIEV discovered a large burial ground of BelBaltlag prisoners near the 8th lock on the White Sea Canal. The following year volunteers under his direction cleared the area and found more than 800 graves.

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