Kazakhstan: Karlag Labor Camp Museum

Karlag or Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp was one of the largest in the Gulag system in the former USSR. Established in 1931, Karlag saw more then 1 million prisoners go through it until 1959. Karlag spam a massive 300k square miles, a territory larger then France. The original Stalin’s idea was to use the forced free labor of all the millions of “enemies of the people” to built agricultural powerhouses. Karlag was established outside of the Soviet political system and reported directly to the head of NKVD, the forerunner of KGB. This first wave of prison laborers came in late 1930s – all the people under Stalin’s repressions and many minority ethnic groups and intelligentsia of scientists, doctors, artists, politicians, and so on – brought to Karlag by train in boxcars. The second wave came during and after WWII, when most ethnic Germans, German POWs, and loads of more “enemies of the people” got sent here. The third wave came in the 1950s when huge groups of ethnics minorities were shuffled here. The museum is quite elaborate and very depressing, with wax figures depicting prisoners, prison life, prison wards, and torture chambers sprayed with blood. Brutal! Combined with all the Soviet memorabilia juxtaposed against all the Gulag facts.