Gulag (also: GULag, GULAG)

Gulag is the abbreviation of “Glavnoye upravlyeniye lagyeryey” (“Chief Administration of Camps”). Established in 1930, the agency was responsible for the organization and administration of penal camps in the USSR. It was initially a branch of the secret police; in 1934 it was incorporated into the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs.

The term “Gulag” is also used to refer to the system of forced labour camps which spread throughout the Soviet Union in the period from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s. In the camps of the Gulag system, altogether 20 million prisoners had to perform forced labour under what were often the worst imaginable conditions.

Since the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago, “Gulag” also has also come to serve as a generic term for all forms of political repression and inhumanity during the period of Soviet control.

The Camps of the Gulag in the Soviet Union (1929–1961)

According to information provided by the „Memorial“ Society, Moscow

The Organization of Terror (in German)

The Waves of Repression (in German)


The Dimensions of the Gulag (in German)