Accessibility links

Scenes From The Gulag's 'Dead Road'

Although many of the horrors of the Soviet Union's Gulag system of forced labor have been well-documented, there are still some gaps in our knowledge of the "archipelago" of prison camps where millions of inmates were literally worked to death. One little known aspect is the "Dead Road" -- an abortive project launched in 1947 as part of a grand plan to build a railway to Russia's easternmost territories across the desolate landscape of northern Siberia. When construction was halted after Stalin's death in 1953, nearly 700 kilometers of a railroad to nowhere had been built at a cost of billions of rubles and thousands of lives. Many of the camps were then simply left to rot in the sparsely populated polar taiga. Stepan Cernousek, a researcher with the Czech project Gulag.cz, has traveled to some of these remote outposts in an effort to glean more information about life in these camps where so many inmates suffered and perished. Here's a selection of some of the photographs he brought back.

It is obvious from the pictorial evidence that the prisoners' living conditions were very rudimentary, to say the least. 
1

It is obvious from the pictorial evidence that the prisoners' living conditions were very rudimentary, to say the least. 

2


Prisoners' sleeping quarters
3

Prisoners' sleeping quarters

4


Several locomotives used on the railway were simply left behind to rust away once the project was aborted.
5

Several locomotives used on the railway were simply left behind to rust away once the project was aborted.

The researchers from Gulag.cz also found many items belonging to prisoners that had been left at the camps when they were abandoned.
6

The researchers from Gulag.cz also found many items belonging to prisoners that had been left at the camps when they were abandoned.

A lot of the tools used by the workers were also left behind. 
7

A lot of the tools used by the workers were also left behind. 

Many of the prison camps' barbed-wire fences still remain intact to this day. 
8

Many of the prison camps' barbed-wire fences still remain intact to this day. 

Watch towers were erected at the camps to ensure the strict supervision of the inmates. 
9

Watch towers were erected at the camps to ensure the strict supervision of the inmates. 

10


Railway sleepers to nowhere in the Siberian taiga
11

Railway sleepers to nowhere in the Siberian taiga

12


13


XS
SM
MD
LG