Perm 36 Gulag - History and Facts | History Hit

Perm 36 Gulag

Verkhnekalinskoe selskoe poselenie, Perm Krai, Russia

Perm 36 is the best preserved of Stalin’s Gulags, near the border with Siberia.

Image Credit: Gerald Praschl / CC

About Perm 36 Gulag

Perm-36 was one of many Gulags established under the Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin and the best-preserved of its kind.

History of Perm-36

Essentially, Gulags were forced labour or concentration camps for prisoners of the state, including criminals and political prisoners such as human rights activists and anyone deemed to be opposed to the state. They were particularly prominent during the rule of Joseph Stalin: it’s estimated tens of thousands died in gulags across Russia, although precise numbers are unclear.

Also known as ITK-6, Perm-36 was established in 1946 near the Russian-Siberian border and was built to hold around a thousand prisoners. Prisoners were forced to work in cutting down trees for use as building materials. Living conditions were dire, with overcrowding and work taking place in all weather. To survive, inmates would have to overcome hunger, brutal treatment and disease.

Perm-36 was only closed down in 1988. In the period after Stalin’s death in 1953, Perm-36 was initially used as a prison for those in his regime convicted of crimes carried out under his rule and later for law-enforcement officials convicted of “traditional” crimes. Political prisoners also continued to be interned there. Perm-36 is the only gulag camp to have been preserved across the USSR, making it unique and an important slice of one of the grimmest aspects of 20th century Russian history.

Over the past twenty years, the state has withdrawn much of the funding that was keeping Perm-36 running: many have perceived this as a deliberate government campaign to focus on nostalgia rather than acknowledge darker aspects of history. Despite this, the camp still operates a museum today. : there’s a permanent exhibition about life in the gulag, as well as changing displays about a variety of other aspects of life.

Perm-36 today

Perm-36 is an atmospheric, and often haunting site. The beauty of the surrounding landscape juxtaposes sharply with the horrific conditions here. There’s a permanent exhibition about life in the gulag, as well as changing displays about a variety of other aspects of life. To fully appreciate the history here, hire a guide for the day.

The museum is operated by a private Russian human rights-based organisation called Memorial – the state has indirectly funded the site in the past, but much less so today.

Getting to Perm-36

Perm-36 is isolated. It’s on the outskirts of Kuchino, around 100km from Perm itself. If you don’t have or hire private transport, chances are you’ll get here via bus. From Perm, get a bus towards Chusovoy or Lysva, and get offf at Tyomnaya station. From there, walk back to the main road (specifically to the Kuchino turn-off): from there it’s a 2.5km walk to the camp.

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