Gulag History Museum
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Gulag History Museum information
Amid all the swanky shops on ul Petrovka, an archway leads to a courtyard that is strung with barbed wire and hung with portraits of political prisoners. This is the entrance to a unique museum dedicated to the Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies, better known as the Gulag. Guides dressed like guards describe the vast network of labour camps that once existed in the former Soviet Union and recount the horrors of camp life.
Millions of prisoners spent years in these labour camps, made famous by Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago . More than 18 million people passed through this system during its peak years, from 1929 to 1953, although many camps remained in operation until the end of the 1980s. The gulag became a chilling symbol of political repression, as many of the prisoners were serving time for ‘antisocial’ or ‘counter-revolutionary’ behaviour. The museum serves as a history lesson about the system, as well as a memorial to its victims.