The Beginnings of the Gulag

The ruthless reorganization of society demanded enormous sacrifices from the population. Increased political repression aimed at eliminating resistance of all kinds. It initially found expression in show trials, forced migration and the establishment of the Gulag.

Beginning in 1929, persons sentenced to more than three years in prison were sent to the “corrective labour camps” which were sprouting up everywhere. In 1929 some 50,000 inmates performed forced labour, and the number soon multiplied. The establishment of a government agency, the Chief Administration of Camps (Gulag), mirrored this development. As a camp system, the Gulag was first and foremost an instrument of terror; at the same time, however, as an economic factor it also took on a strong inner dynamic.

Order of the Joint State Political Directorate (OGPU) No. 130/63 on the establishment of the “OGPU Administration of Camps” (Ulag), 25 April 1930

This order is considered the Gulag’s foundation charter.

Source: Russian Federation State Archive, Moscow


"1. The OGPU Administration of Camps is to be established within OGPU-Centre according to the staffing given in the Appendix.

2. F. I. Eikhmans is appointed Head of the OGPU Administration of Camps, com[rade] Meyer - his Deputy.

3. The Administration and its personnel are to be maintained at the expense of OGPU camps.


5. The OGPU Administration of Camps is to hire, dismiss, and shift personnel in coordination with the Administration Department of the OGPU.

6. The personnel of the OGPU Administration of Camps is to be put into action as of April 15 a.c.

7. The Appendix is to be distributed only among bodies concerned.”