"the gulag as a septic tank"

Prison laborers at the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal
Public DomainPrison laborers at the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal
The chain of prison and work camps across the former Soviet Union was dubbed “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “Gulag” is an acronym from the Russian phrase translated as “The Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies.”

There were at least 476 separate camps, from Eastern Europe and downtown Moscow to the farthest reaches of Siberia, through which more than 14 million people passed between 1929 and 1953, and it has been estimated that nearly 2 million died. This photograph of prisoners being made to work on the White Sea-Baltic Canal dates from roughly 1931-1933.