Work (or Labour) Camps were created to break the will and keep under control those whose thoughts differed from the state ideology. However, the fight with free-thinkers was not the only reason for the camps…The Soviet state badly needed a working force to rebuild the country; the prisoners were free labour, they would work for a piece of bread and a glass of water. Thus, the reason to be sent to a GULAG could be ridiculously minor or non- existent at all. Nobody could or would question the disappearances for fear of disappearing themselves. It was the time of the great terror and great injustice where one in ten was sentenced. GULAG camps existed everywhere in the country, including Moscow. People believed that the camps were located far away, in Siberia, but the truth was it was right here, in the very heart of the state.
These camps were an important part of the total state control system between the 1930’s and 1950’s. They played a serious politico-administrative and economic role within the USSR.
In the museum one sees prisoners’ works of arts and pieces by modern artists. One of the most important parts of the exposition is the reconstruction of a camp’s environment: the prisoner’s barracks; punishment cells; the office of a camp’s secret service functionary; the watch-tower for guards (in the courtyard).
Whilst not an entertaining visit I believe this knowledge is important for a complete understanding of Russian history.
When: we meet at Puskinskaya metro station by the Pushkin Monument
Cost: 1250 rub per person