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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In Kazakhstan, Spending Saturday Night In The Gulag

Published 20 May 2013

A museum of the Stalin-era prison camp system in central Kazakhstan has given visitors a nighttime tour, where they were "treated" to prison meals and a performance of mock interrogations. The unusual visit on the night of May 18 was organized by the Museum of Political Oppression in Dolinka. The central town became infamous in the 1930s as the center of the Qaraghandy Corrective Labor Camps system (KarLAG). (15 PHOTOS)


Museum employees depict how prisoners were tortured to extract confessions.


The former main building of the KarLAG system in Dolinka has been renovated to house the Museum of Political Oppression.


A live brass band entertained visitors outside the museum. This was also done in the years of repression.


Visitors to the Hall of Deportation were offered qurt, the Kazakh national cheese, to symbolize that Kazakhs often shared their food with the deported, saving them from starvation.


The camp's Exhibition Hall houses the personal files of prisoners.


Vera Mihodenko, a resident of Dolinka, reads about the victims of the 1930s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. 


An employee depicts a tortured prisoner.


In the Hall of Remembrance, a visitor reads about those who died in the KarLAG.


A visitor is photographed in the re-created office of a KarLAG officer, where new prisoners would be accepted and their personal files reviewed.


Entire families, including pregnant women, were transported in overcrowded cattle cars. Many died en route and the dead were transported along with those who survived.


In the Hall of Remembrance, a visitor reads about those who died in the KarLAG.


Political prisoners were confined in the same cells as those convicted of criminal offenses.


A guide tells visitors how people of different nationalities were deported to Kazakhstan from various parts of the Soviet Union in the years of repression.


A scene showing how female prisoners fed their children. Mothers saw their children only at feeding time. The mothers worked the rest of the time.


A museum employee demonstrates how hungry and exhausted prisoners used to churn clay with their feet to make mud bricks.