What is the Gorlag?

What is the Gorlag?

Gorlag ("special-letter 2", which means "special camp No. 2") with its special camp structure was separated from the Norillag in 1948, due to the formation of a completely new system, the so-called "special camps", particularly destined for political prisoners.

The features that distinguished "special camp" prisoners from others were numbers (in Gorlag they consisted of a letter and three ciphers), sewn into the outer clothing (in Gorlag - on chest, back and sleeve) and the cap.

Originally, Gorlag consisted of six camp sections (including one for women). They were all situated in Norilsk. A considerable number of prisoners from Norillag was transferred here. From this very moment the registration was processed in the Gorlag and for the Norillag they no longer existed (they were deregistered there).

However, during all the years of its existence, thousands of political prisoners continously went through the camp sections of the Norillag. More than that, early in the 1950s many prisoners, mainly women, were transferred from the Gorlag to the Norillag. Moreover a considerable part probably served their prison sentence in the Norilsk camp zones, but were "classed as belonging to" the Gorlag.

Formally, the Gorlag was directly subordinate to the GULag, but its camp commandant at the same time acted as deputy camp commandant of the Norillag.

In 1953, precisely in this Gorlag, a big camp strike took place, the so-called Norilsk revolt, when prisoners brought the residential areas under their control and submitted several demands not only to the commandant, but also to the supreme ruler of the USSR. In spite of the subsequent suppression of the strike, which proceeded simultaneously with the revolt in Workuta, it infiltrated the basis of the camp system. After the Kengir revolt in 1954 (in Steplag) this lead to the abolishment of the "special camp system".

In 1954 the whole Gorlag was restructered into an individual camp structure (together with the remaining special camps) and reintegrated into the Norillag.

 


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