Room in a school built by Gulag prisoners, Kadykchan, Kolyma

School

Room in a school built by Gulag prisoners

Kolyma Highway traverses more than 2000 kilometres through the wilderness of Russian Far East. Roadside villages are scarce, one in every 200 kilometres or so, and as scarce are the inhabitants in these villages. Some of the places, like Kadykchan, have become ghost towns. The road was built during 1930s and 1940s by Gulag prisoners, and so were, originally, many of the villages. Some of them, Kadykchan included, are actually former prison camps turned into towns. At 1970s Kadykchan was thriving city in the Soviet north, and most of its buildings date from this era and are constructed with free labour. But the oldest parts of the town, like the school, were built after the World War II, most likely with Gulag labor. Thus, the abandoned schoolhouse of Kadykchan is an unintentional memorial to the dark legacy of prison camps in the arctic Russia.

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