Siblag (1929-1960) | Russia's Necropolis of Terror and the Gulag

Siblag (1929-1960)

The Siberian Directorate of Special-Purpose Camps (SibULON) was set up in western Siberia at the same time as the Far Eastern Special-Purpose Camps (see Sevvostlag) and the Northern Special-Purpose Camps. It was intended to supply labour for the industrial, mining, forestry, agricultural and construction sites in the area.

Siblag headquarters were in Novosibirsk but like all the camp complexes of the Gulag it was not concentrated in a single location but formed a network of camps throughout western Siberia, spreading across the present-day Altai, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tomsk Regions, reaching into the Krasnoyarsk Region to the east. To begin with it included not only prisons and labour camps but also special settlements where 63,000 families of deported peasants worked. (Subsequently the special settlements were placed in charge of a separate department.)

In 1932 its 28,000 prisoners were reportedly engaged in forestry (6,000), coal mining (6,800), agriculture (6,000) and production of consumer goods (3,600). They also built 42.5 kms of railroad northwards from Tomsk to transport timber, and the Nifantevskoe Highway to the Turukhansk Region. By 1936 Siblag was growing agricultural produce for other industrial camp complexes, and received a great many disabled prisoners: it contained two divisions and 15 separate camp outposts.

In early 1942 Siblag contained 78,000 prisoners but, as elsewhere, that wartime total declined drastically to 30,000 the following year.

Siblag entries in “Russia’s Necropolis”:

Kemerovo Region:

Krasnoyarsk Region:

Siblag (1929-1960)