From 1930s to 1950s a Gulag camp was operating near the town of Inta at Russian arctic. Many former inmates of the camp were living at the small village of Vostochny nearby, and the cemetery of the village became a memorial graveyard for the victims of political repression. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Vostochny’s brick factory ceased to operate and the village was soon abandoned. So was the cemetery. Now the graves and the photographs in the tombstones are so dilapidated that they have become nameless, like this one here.
The handsome water tower at the center of Inta, former Gulag town in the Russian arctic, is one of the most insidious relics of Soviet camps. The tower is nowadays the pride of the city and is featured even in the coat of arms of Inta, but originally it was the product of the Gulag. Swedish-Estonian political prisoner Artur Tamvelius designed the tower after the World War II and it was built with forced labour during 1953 and 1954. Soon it became everyday part of Inta, which shows how normal Gulag was considered at the time. The building doesn’t serve anymore as a water tower and there is an exhibition of political repression inside.
Tomsk, a middle-sized city in the endless Siberian taiga, was not particularly important regarding the actual prison camps of the Soviet Union, probably because it was too populated to operate them secretly. But the town was a crucial crossroads of the entire Gulag archipelago. Prisoners that were sent to the different corners of Siberia or relocated to other camps were often transferred through Tomsk, and many spent weeks or months or even longer there, waiting for their final destination & destiny. For this purpose there was a NKVD complex complete with prison cells in the center of Tomsk. The building has survived till our days, and has more or less retained it original appearance. Thus, it is an important authentic memorial to the innocent citizens who were moved like cattle around the Soviet Union. This the door of the cell no. 43.
At first glance there is nothing special in the tundra wasteland some ten kilometres from the centre of Vorkuta, former Gulag town at the far north of Russia. Then one realizes that there is something too much in the landscape: a tree. Because of the permafrost, nothing but those prickly shrubs grow naturally in the tundra. The tree reveals that there has been something more here. This is the site of the former Rechlag lagpunkt of Vorkutlag camp. Rechlag was in use from 1930s until 1950s, mostly for political prisoners, and after the dismantling of Gulag it was abandoned & destroyed. The rotting wood, scraps of food, human waste & such it left behind during the years have formed an extra layer of soil on top of the frost, and that’s why a tree, stunted but still a tree, can grow there. Thus, it becomes a natural monument to the Gulag camp that once was here. The tree is part of the memory of the landscape.