The Yagrin Corrective-Labour Camp was set up in spring 1938 in Sudostroi (Molotovsk, 1938-1957; Severodvinsk since then). Its purpose was to complete the yard for building warships on the White Sea, Construction Site 203; it drew its name from the Yagra island at the mouth of the Dvina river.
Numbers of prisoners held in in the camp’s ten divisions and many outposts ranged from 28,000 at the beginning of 1939 to over 82,000 in 1943, but such figures have little meaning without taking into account the constant (involuntary) mobility of the workforce and their high mortality rates, especially in wartime: during 1942 over a third of all prisoners died; in 1943 20% of the prisoners died during the year.
Yagrinlag inmates, the majority of them “enemies of the people”, came from Ukraine, Belorussia, the Baltic States and south Urals. Many were from Moscow, Leningrad and Nikolayev. “Everywhere on the outskirts of the town the road came up against barracks surrounded by barbed wire,” the author of one book of memoirs recalls. Another wrote: “Many of the town’s old inhabitants certainly know and remember the wide columns, ten persons in a row, that marched each morning to the construction sites. Guards with bayonets fixed at the ready, and vicious Alsatians on a lead, led this endless line along the streets, at times so dense that you could not cross the road”.
See also The GULAG in NORTHWEST RUSSIA (1931-1960)