Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) – The Gulag Online Museum presenting a 3D reconstruction and virtual tour of former Soviet labour camp system will be launched by the Czech association Archipelago in March or April 2016, its head Stepan Cernousek has told CTK.
“As it is not possible to remember the conditions of the former Gulag camps in Russia, we decided to create this possibility on the Internet at least,” Cernousek said.
He said everybody knows the names of Nazi concentration camps Terezin, Mauthausen, Buchenwald or Oswiecim and the museums built on their spots are annually visited by hundred of thousands of people, while the names of Gulag labour camps such as Pechora, Kolyma, Norilsk or Yermakovo are far less known and no museum has been built on their spot so far.
In 2009, the Gulag.cz group was set up in order to share and spread information about the Gulag and issues related to it. The group later turned into the Archipelago association.
Cernousek said the group was the firs to map the former Gulag camps using up-to-date IT technology. In 2013, it presented panoramic photographs of Siberian labour camps from the area of the Salekhard-Igarka railway on the Internet.
The online museum is supported by sponsors and the Hithit crowdfunding portal.
The system of concentration and labour camps was developed in the Soviet Union from 1919 and it was the most extensive under the rule of Joseph Stalin. The word Gulag began to be used in 1930. It is abbreviation of the Russian name of the Central Camp Administration, which was a special section of the Soviet secret police and the interior ministry. A big part of the prisoners were innocent people punished for political reasons.
According to estimates, 15 to 18 million people became Gulag prisoners and at least 1.5 million of them did not survive their stay in the camps. After Stalin´s death in 1953, the number of prisons markedly decreased. Gulag was officially abolished in 1960.