The Gulag in the Soviet Far East (1929-1958) | Russia's Necropolis of Terror and the Gulag

The Gulag in the Soviet Far East (1929-1958)

Certain of the camp systems that emerged in the Soviet Far East in 1929-1932 were enormous. By the late 1930s Bamlag and Sevvostlag had 190,000 and 200,000 inmates, respectively. The remote location of Sevvostlag (and the Dalstroi Trust it was created to serve) placed it virtually beyond the control of the OGPU (NKVD) directorate of corrective-labour camps, its nominal overlord in Moscow.

These camp systems had a large and mobile population spread out over a wide territory. There was a headquarters for their varied operations; there was no single central camp. They were, rather, networks of camp outposts allocated to the divisions that formed and reformed as the need for them arose and subsided.

The partially overlapping civilian administration of the area was likewise gigantic until October 1938 when the Far Eastern Region was broken up into its more familiar division between Yakutia, the Magadan, Amur and Khabarovsk Regions, and the Jewish Autonomous Okrug.


Key information about seven camp systems based wholly or partially in the Soviet Far East is provided here.

They are listed by the month and year they opened. There follow the details of their principal activities; the maximum number of prisoners (as of 1 January); location of their headquarters; and the dates when they closed, or were merged and absorbed by other camp systems. Links are provided to separate articles on certain of the camp complexes.

The information comes mainly from The System of Corrective-Labour Camps in the USSR, the authoritative 1998 volume (see website) compiled by researchers at Moscow Memorial. See also the map of the Gulag created by the Gulag Museum (Moscow) which contains much of the same information in a more user-friendly form.

(Compare The Gulag in Northwest Russia, 1929-1960.)


1. Dallag – logging, gold, coal, road and rail; max. prisoners 113,000 (1937); HQ KHABAROVSK, Far Eastern Region. Closed April 1939. [One site.]

1931 (November)

[Dalstroi – gold, tin, wolfram etc.; max prisoners (see 2. Sevvostlag)]

1932 (April)

2. SEVVOSTLAG – provided labour for Dalstroi; max prisoners 190,000 (1939); HQ MAGADAN, Far Eastern Region. Closed 1949-1953. [11 sites.]

1932 (November)

3. Bamlag – expanding Trans-Siberian railroad, construction; max. prisoners 201,000 (1938); HQ SVOBODNY, Far Eastern Region.

Divided in May 1938 into six separate, short-lived camp systems: Amurlag [ ], Burlag [4], Vostoklag, Zapadny [Taishet], Yugovostochnyi, and Yuzhlag [see Gulag in Siberia, 1929-1960].

1938 (May)

4. Burlag – railways; max prisoners 62,000 (1942); HQ Izvestkovaya rail station, Jewish Autonomous Okrug. Closed September 1942 (merged with Nizhneamurlag [5]). [One site.]

1939 (?August)

5. Nizhneamurlag – railways, oil pipeline; max prisoners 64,000 (1943); HQ KOMSOMOLSK-NA-AMURE, Amur Region. Absorbed Burlag [4] (Sept 1942), closed February 1955. [Two sites.]

1947 (June)

6. Amurlag – gold, construction, coal, logging, roads; max prisoners 3,000 (1951); HQ BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Amur Region. Closed April 1953.

1949 (September)

7. Indigirlag – mining and prospecting; max prisoners 14,000 (1951); HQ Ust-Nera, Yakutia. Closed July 1958. [One site.]

The Gulag in the Soviet Far East (1929-1958)