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Perimeter fence and watchtower, Vorkuta Gulag

The Vorkuta Corrective Labor Camp (Russian: Воркути́нский исправи́тельно-трудово́й ла́герь, tr. Vorkutínsky ispravítel'no-trudovóy láger'), commonly known as the Vorkuta Gulag or Vorkutlag (Воркутлаг), was a major GULAG labor camp of the Soviet Union located in Vorkuta from 1932 to 1962.

The Vorkuta Gulag was one of the largest camps in the GULAG system with 73,000 prisoners at its peak in 1951, containing Soviet and foreign prisoners including prisoners of war, dissidents, political prisoners ("enemies of the state") and common criminals who were used as forced labor in the coal mining works. The Vorkuta Gulag was the site of the Vorkuta Uprising in July 1953.


Graves of the Lithuanian political prisoners in Vorkutlag, 20th century

The Vorkuta Gulag was established by Soviet authorities in 1932, on a site in the basin of the Pechora River, located within the Komi ASSR of the Russian SFSR (present-day Komi Republic, Russia), approximately 1,900 kilometres (1,200 mi) from Moscow and 160 kilometres (99 mi) above the Arctic Circle. The city of Vorkuta was established to support the camp, which was constructed to exploit the resources of the Pechora Coal Basin, the second largest coal basin in the Soviet Union. There were approximately 132 sub-camps in the Vorkuta Gulag system during the height of its use in the Soviet prison system. From 1939, Polish prisoners were held at Vorkuta following the Occupation of Poland until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Vorkuta was then also used to hold German prisoners of war captured on the Eastern Front in World War II as well as criminals, Soviet citizens and those from Soviet-allied countries deemed to be dissidents and enemies of the state during the Soviet era.

The Vorkuta uprising occurred at the Vorkuta Gulag in July 1953, when inmates at various camps who were forced to work in the region's coal mines went on strike. The uprising, beginning as a mostly passive walkout, escalated into a strike involving 18,000 inmates across the Vorkuta camp system and lasted for approximately two weeks. On 1 August, the Vorkuta Gulag's camp chief Derevyanko ordered troops to fire at the strikers, resulting in the deaths of at least 53 workers, although estimates vary.[citation needed]

The Vorkuta camp was liquidated by order of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and eventually closed in 1962, but large numbers of Soviet citizens who were former prisoners remained living in Vorkuta, either due to the restrictions on their settlement or their poor financial situation, or having nowhere to go. Memorial, a Russian human rights organization that focuses on recording and publicising the human rights violations of the Soviet Union's totalitarianism,[1] estimates that of the 40,000 people collecting state pensions in the Vorkuta area, 32,000 are former gulag inmates or their descendants.[2]

Notable inmates[edit]

Notable guards[edit]

  • Zoya Voskresenskaya, the chief of the Special Section of Vorkuta prison-camp, who served between 1955 and 1956.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Memorial website(in Russian)
  2. ^ Robert Conquest, Paul Hollander: Political violence: belief, behavior, and legitimation p.55, Palgrave Macmillan;(2008) ISBN 978-0-230-60646-3
  3. ^ Fariselli, Patrizio (2018-10-07). "1978, gli dei se ne vanno gli arrabbiati restano". Patrizio Fariselli (in Italian). Retrieved 2021-02-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Williams, Raymond (12 January 2014). "Vorkuta for Victory: What Black Ops Got So Right". Venture Beat. Retrieved 8 June 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barenberg, Alan (2014). Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-20682-1.

Coordinates: 67°30′51″N 64°05′02″E / 67.51417°N 64.08389°E / 67.51417; 64.08389