Paul Gregory


An Introduction to the Economics of the Gulag




The term “Gulag” translates as “The Main Administration of Camps,” an agency that was subordinated to the USSR Ministry of Interior.[1] The interior ministry itself operated under four acronyms from the Bolshevik Revolution to Stalin’s death in March of 1953. It was first the Cheka, under its first minister Feliks Dzherzhinsky. It was renamed OGPU in 1922. The OCGP was merged into the NKVD in 1934. The NKVD was headed by G.G. Yagoda (from 1934-36), N. I. Yezhov (from 1936-38), and L.P. Beria (from 1938-45). It was renamed the MVD in 1946. Although the interior ministry had three other ministers prior to Stalin’s death, the bloody history of the  Cheka-OGPU-NKVD-MVD is associated with these four leaders, of whom only Dzerzhnisky escaped execution by dying of natural causes. The Great Purges of 1937-38 is usually referred to as the “Yezhovschina” after the NKVD’s zealous minister who spearheaded it.[2]

The generic term “Gulag” refers to the vast system of prisons, camps, psychiatric hospitals, and special laboratories that housed the millions of prisoners, or zeks, who populated it. Although Soviet propaganda at times praised the Gulag’s rehabilitation of anti-Soviet elements through honest labor, there were no Soviet studies of the Gulag. The interior ministry had to turn to studies written in the West, which were carefully preserved within its archives.[3] Broad public understanding of the magnitude and brutality of the Gulag was generated by the publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s noted Gulag Archipelago.[4]  Since Russian independence a large number of historical and political works have been published in Russia along with a number of memoirs of former prisoners. Former camp administrators have remained silent; so we have no accounts from the perspective of the camp’s bosses.

The Gulag as an Institution of the Totalitarian State

This book is a collection of studies of forced labor in the Soviet Union until Stalin’s death and its immediate aftermath. These chapters focus primarily on the most extreme form of coercion – penal labor, but they also describe the application of force to the everyday work place, a practice that was prominent from the late 1930s through the end of World War II. The massive political and social literature that exists today on the Gulag has established beyond a shadow of doubt its brutality and criminality and has chronicled the human suffering and loss of life it occasioned. Our focus is on the Gulag as an institution of coercive power in a totalitarian state. We are interested in its functions, how it operated both formally and informally, and its contributions to the goals of the dictator. We are interested in whether the Gulag was created to serve the economic interests of the totalitarian state or whether it was the by-product of the dictator’s consolidation of power.

The Soviet administrative-command system was the most important experiment of the twentieth century. Its true operation was hidden behind a vast veil of secrecy, which can now be pierced by the opening of formerly secret archives. Studies using these formerly secret archives reveal the system’s working arrangements to be more complex and subtle than had been previously imagined.[5] We must examine the institution of the Soviet Gulag in a similar light to determine its true working arrangements.

The chapters in this book are based primarily on research in the archives of the Gulag, both in its central, regional, and local archives. Three chapters examine the general institutions of force and coercion as applied to labor (Khlevnyuk, Sokolov, and Tikhonov). Four chapters are devoted to case studies of three major Gulag projects (The White Sea-Baltic Canal by Moryukov, Magadan by Nordlander, the Karelia region by Joyce, and the Norilsk Metallurgy Complex by Ertz). Borodkin and Ertz examine the use of penal labor in Norilsk in a comparative context. The case studies use both central and local archives, while the studies of central institutions use the central archives of the Gulag and relevant central archives of the Soviet state and party.[6] These archives are located in Moscow, and in the regions themselves. The Gulag archives are also located in the collections of the Hoover Institution.

These documents tell the complicated story of the creation and operation of the forced labor system partly by design and partly by learning-by-doing.  Internal reports on the “state of the Gulag” reveal a high level of introspection by top Gulag administrators and provide a valuable insider’s views of the Gulag’s weaknesses and strengths. Other Soviet institutions did not develop such a high level of self-reflection insofar as their job was to convince their superiors that they were performing well, albeit under difficult circumstances.

Internal Gulag documents reveal three constants of Gulag administration: First, the Gulag’s structure and development were dictated by the political strategy of the dictatorship.  As noted by a Gulag administrator: “Organizational changes within the Gulag are normally caused by external political and/or economic decisions of the state.”[7] The Gulag was populated as a consequence of the exogenous state policies of collectivization, Great Terror, harsh labor laws, and imprisonment of returning POW’s. From 1934 on, the Gulag had to manage the “unplanned” rise in the number of prisoners and the simultaneous expansion of the prison camp network.  The Gulag’s attempts at forward planning grossly underestimated the growth of inmates. Its planners consistently expected a diminishing number of prisoners. The third Five-Year Plan (1938-42), which was drawn up during the Great Purges, remarkably projected a decreasing number of inmates just as the first victims of the Great Terror began flooding in.  

The second constant was the economic Raison d’etre of the Gulag: the exploration and industrial colonization of remote resource-rich regions at a low cost of society’s resources.  As noted by an internal Gulag document: "The history of the Gulag is the history of the colonization and industrial exploitation of the remote regions of the state.”[8]  Although prison labor was used throughout the USSR, Gulag labor was principally concentrated in the remote regions with difficult climates that would have been costly to settle with free labor. The use of penal labor in remote regions was supposed to achieve to create economic “surpluses” (similar to Marx’s surplus value) by paying unfree labor only subsistence (or well below free labor) to produce products that had substantial economic value. Prison labor was also supposed to be more mobile than hired labor in that it could be shifted in large numbers from one project to another. Penal labor was supposed to provide these surpluses and resource mobility without the loss of labor productivity. Close supervision and monitoring, it was hoped, would render penal labor as productive as free labor.

The third constant was the conflict between the economic function of the Gulag and its function of isolating inmates from the general population and preventing escapes. The more prisoners were used for construction and production, which required their movement from job to job or from task to task, the weaker the security regime. Prisoners contracted out to civilian enterprises and institutions were particularly difficult to guard, to isolate from the general population, and to prevent from escaping. To a degree, the Gulag attempted to reduce the friction between its isolation and economic functions by locating production facilities close to the place of confinement, but this was an expensive solution. All the economic tasks that inmates were supposed to carry out could not be located within the confines of camps. As the Gulag’s economic system became more complicated and its economic obligations heavier, “its priority function of protection and isolation was negatively affected”, as remarked one Gulag chronicler.[9]

The chapters in this book show the struggle within the dictatorship and within the Gulag between the notion that productive labor can be extracted by coercion and force and the realization that people must be offered “carrots” as well as sticks if they are to work well. The Chapter by Sokolov shows that the Soviet leadership sought in vain the appropriate balance between carrots and sticks in the “civilian” labor force and often combined extreme coercion with extreme material incentives. The chapters by Khlevnyuk, Borodkin and Ertz, Joyce, and Nordlander show that material incentives played an ever larger role in motivating penal labor and Tikhonov shows that in the last few years of the Gulag, distinctions between free and penal labor became blurred. The chapter by Borodkin and Ertz shows that eventually inmates had to be offered material incentives that were distributed among prisoners much as they were distributed among civilian workers. Although the prison bosses had an arsenal of tools to motivate prisoners to fulfill their plans – punishment,  sentence reductions for good work, moral incentives, and material incentives – they learned that coercion alone was not sufficient. Moreover, there were complicated tradeoffs: Prisoners placed on reduced rations for failing to meet their quotas were no longer able to work effectively because of their weakened state. One of the most effective incentive systems – reduced sentences as a reward for exemplary work – deprived the Gulag of its best workers due to early release.

The Organizational Structure of the Gulag

In the Chapters that follow, there are references to a large number of organizations related to the Gulag – OGPU, NKVD, MVD, Gulag main administrations and economic administrations, and regional organizations. We have already explained that the OGPU, MKVD, and MVD were, in effect, different names for the Soviet interior ministry, or the state security ministry, which was the superior of the Gulag administration.  To simplify the discussion that follows, we shall use the best-known designation of the interior ministry of the Stalin era – the NKVD. As Chart 1 explains, the NKVD received its orders from the highest political and party authority, the Council of People’s Commissars (the highest state body) and the Politburo (the highest body of the communist party).  Like industrial ministries, the NKVD was broken down into Main Administrations, called Glavki, which were responsible for carrying out the various functions of state security. This book is about the NKVD’s most notorious Main Administration, the Main Administration for Camps – Gulag.

Chart 1 illustrates the activities of the Gulag. It received its orders from the NKVD; that is from the minister of interior, such as Yezhov or Beria. The head of the Gulag administration was personally responsible for carrying out these orders and directives.  The supply of prisoners (zeks) was delivered to the NKVD by the courts, justice ministries, and the like, which delivered them to the Gulag. The Gulag served as a “labor intermediary,” distributing penal labor to its own Main Industrial Administrations, or Gulag glavks, to the economic administrations that it administered directly, or it could contract penal labor out to other construction and industrial production ministries. Given that the Gulag had its own construction and production responsibilities and that Gulag Glavks, although quasi-independent, had to meet their targets, the Gulag had to weigh the financial benefits from contracting labor to third parties against the need for prisoners within its own production structure.

Almost all prisoners (zeks) were confined either in Corrective Labor Camps, called ITLs, or in labor colonies, also known as general places of confinement. Henceforth we refer to the former as “camps: and the later as “colonies.”  Some inmates were confined to mental institutions, high-security prisons, to special research facilities, such as elite scientists and engineers, or in special camps. Camps provided traditional prison-type confinement with guards and strict supervision of prisoners.  Colonies were located in remote regions, and “colonists” were prevented by internal passport rules and lack of transport from leaving the region.  The term of custody was supposed to be the decisive formal criterion for the type of confinement: “In accordance with criminal laws (Article 28 of the Criminal Codex of the Russian Republic), the

Corrective labor camps (ITL) are for those prisoners sentenced to terms of three years or more.”[10]

Prior to the unification of control of forced labor under the NKVD in 1934, camps and colonies were administered both by republican organizations (republican justice ministries and republican NKVDs) and by the USSR interior ministry.  The first and most famous prison camp, the Solovetsky Camp of Special Destination (SLON), was founded in 1920 on Felix Dzerzhinsky’s (first head of Cheka) initiative[11] to isolate counterrevolutionaries. The systematic utilization of forced labor began in 1926 and was initially limited to forestry and fisheries in the local environs.[12]  Starting with the first Five-Year Plan (1928-33), the OGPU was used as the agency of colonization. The Council of People’s Commissars created on July 11, 1929 the Administrative Authority of Northern Camps of Special Destination (USLON) of the OGPU for the exploitation of mineral resources in the northern territories. Such remote camps isolated individuals posing threats to the socialist state and colonized undeveloped regions. The emerging network of the prison camp administration was created independently of the existing territorial prison administration system operated by the justice ministry and territorial authorities. As a result, the administration of prison camps was in fact divided into two parts. The OGPU distributed the prisoners among the camps, while the territorial administrative organs were responsible for their utilization.  Newly created camps were subordinated to the OGPU, such as the notable camp complexes founded in 1932 (listed in Table 1).[13]

The Gulag system was concentrated under the NKVD in 1934, namely, under its Gulag administration.[14] Under this unified administration, inmate number soared, as did Gulag responsibilities.  Many projects begun by civil administrations were shifted to the Gulag, eventually overwhelming its administrative capacities as a 1940 report indicated:  “The Gulag has 30 main building projects; none will be completed in 1940. All will continue for several years, with an overall labor budget of 14.7 million. rubles. The Gulag is systematically charged with additional building projects, which result in a remarkable backlog. The large number of construction projects requires a fundamental reorganization, and the magnitude of these tasks complicates management in an extreme fashion, leading to a diversification of tasks and to bottlenecks in resource allocation.”[15]

To administer its increasingly complex production and construction complexes, the Gulag created in 1941 Main Economic Administrations called, also called Glavki, to take responsibility for its economic activities. [16]  These newly founded administrations were based upon branch principles except Dal’Stroi (Far Northern Construction), which administered 130 separate camp facilities in a territory covering three million square kilometres (See Chapter by Nordlander). The Gulag’s complex structure gave observers the impression of several Gulags developing in the pre-war USSR.

 The Second World War reduced the number of prisoners due to transfers to the front and increased mortality, and the number of Gulag organizations declined (See Khlevnyuk and Sokolov). Although the Gulag administration expected a continued decline in its role at the end of the war, there was a new influx of inmates sentenced under new criminal codes, returning POWs, and wartime collaborators. Both the number of inmates and the Gulag’s economic activities expanded again after 1947.[17]  Inmate totals reached their peak at 2.5 million in the early 1950s. Table 2 presents a general picture of the Gulag on the eve of World War II, at the end of the war, and in the early 1950s.  The increase in the Gulag bureaucracy appeared to outrun the increase in the number of prisoners.   The ratio of guards to inmates rose after the war to almost one guard for every ten inmates.  These ratios must be interpreted with caution because a high proportion of guards were themselves inmates (See Chapter by Borodkin and Ertz).

Gulag as the  Supplier of Penal Labor

Throughout the numerous changes in administration, inmate totals, and responsibilities, the Gulag remained the sole centralized administrator of the camp sector or guard regime. As such, it was the monopoly supplier of prison labor to the economy.  As noted by one of the Gulag’s chief administrators: “The Gulag ensures the required labor force replenishment of the building projects and industrial plants of the MVD by supplying prisoners to the appropriate camps and colonies. At the same time, the Gulag provides manpower for civilian ministries on a contractual basis in order to organize special colonies for prisoners next to the industrial location and building projects of these ministries.”[18]  All colonies and several agricultural camps remained under the direct control of the Gulag itself, including special camps for “counterrevolutionaries”, which were founded in 1948, and which required a special disciplinary regime.

 Table 3 shows the distribution of prison labor according to Glavki, to the Gulag’s own operations (the Third Department), and also by prisoners contracted out to civilian enterprises.  For the early 1950s, of the 2.5 million prisoners, between one and 1.3 million inmates worked in the Gulag’s own Third Department, between a quarter and a half million were hired out, and the remainder worked primarily in forestry, railroad construction, military production, hydro-electric power, and in Far-North construction. The Third Department was the largest economic subdivision of the Gulag, accounting for more than one third of all prison labor for more than a decade. In addition to gold mining, the Third Department included several old Gulag camps, most of the Special Camps founded in 1948, and all general places of confinement, including colonies whose administration was carried out by the territorial departments and subdivisions of the Gulag. The untold story of Table 3 is the 500,000 to 600,000 penal workers contracted out to civilian employers in the early post-war years. Although they constituted a relatively small share of the Soviet labor force, they were concentrated largely in construction and thus constituted a much higher share of total construction employment.

Although the criminal codex required that prisoners sentenced to less than three years be imprisoned in colonies, the Gulag openly defied this law when it faced labor bottlenecks. From the Gulag’s perspective, those sentenced to colonies were less valuable because transport to the remote colony could take up to half a year. Hence, the most significant projects were not carried out in colonies.  Special decrees allowed the MVD “to displace prisoners sentenced to a term of custody of up to two years from colonies to camps.”[19] A memorandum written for the Gulag administration in July of 1947 found that 13 percent of the inmates in camps had been sentenced to terms of custody of less than three years, while more than half of all prisoners in colonies were sentenced to more than three years and should have been in camps. 

The MVD and its Gulag administration resisted calls for more civilian control of prison laborers as the Gulag and civilian employers wrestled for penal workers. State policy sometimes favored the Gulag; sometimes the industrial ministries. A government decree of November 4, 1947 forbad the assignment of prisoners to civilian projects without MVD/Gulag approval, stipulating that prisoners were to be sent on a priority basis to the far North and East, where it was difficult to procure free labor. Another state decree obliged the MVD/Gulag to provide labor from special contingents without prior agreement with the MVD.[20]  Open battles broke out between the Gulag and civilian ministries.  In 1950, the economic ministries claimed the Gulag “owed” them 125 thousand prisoners, while the Gulag accused the ministries of withholding 33 thousand prisoners.[21] The ministries lobbied for prime prison labor, while the Gulag supplied a representative cross-section of prisoners with regard to sex, age, qualification, and health. The Gulag preferred to supply women, elderly workers, and unskilled workers, imposing social obligations linked to these categories of prisoners on the hiring enterprise. Frequent quarrels over non-payments required Council of Ministers intervention, such as the April 21, 1947 special order that ministries pay outstanding debts to the MVD, which could demand its prisoners back if payments were overdue more than one month. The decree ordered that: "These accounts have to be paid from the funds reserved for the payment of the regular wages for workers and employees.”  Non-paying enterprises had to pay transport costs back to their places of confinement.[22] 

The Gulag’s supply of labor to civilian employers depended on the influx of prisoners. When the number of prisoners entering the Gulag dropped sharply in 1951, the number of inmates contracted out to outside employers also fell sharply.  As stated by a Gulag report: “As a result of the decrease in inflow of newly sentenced contingents, the number of prisoners assigned to other ministries also sharply declined. Within one year alone from November 1, 1950 to November 1, 1951, their number declined by more than a third.”[23]  When caught itself with a labor shortage, the Gulag endeavored to cut supplies to other ministries. A new inflow of inmates after 1951 led to a new rise in building activity. Stakes were high in disputes between the Gulag and civilian employers because of the large numbers of prisoners involved. Table 4 shows that prison labor could account for up to 18 percent of total employment in some civilian sectors, such as heavy industry construction.

Table 5 divides the 1950 Gulag labor staffing plan into construction, industry, and contract employment.  It shows that 27 percent of Gulag labor was classified as “free”, although there is considerable doubt as to how “free” such labor was (see Chapter by Borodkin and Ertz).  More “free” labor worked in industry than in the harsh conditions of construction.  Most of the contracted-out inmate labor went to construction.  Hence, if we add all of contracted workers to construction, we find that penal labor accounted for 87 percent of  workers in Gulag construction projects, while only 19 percent of  free labor worked in construction projects.  In Gulag documents, these free workers are explicitly mentioned as labor force so that this figure does not include either administrative employees or guards. Thus the Gulag hired free labor in production while contracting out prisoners to the external construction sector.  The number of free laborers working in Gulag industry approximately equaled the number of prisoners “exported” for outside construction employment

The Gulag’s use of “free” labor contradicts both the stereotype of the Gulag and the Minister of the Interior’s report addressed to Stalin, Malenkov and Bena, which stated that: “All orders concerning large-scale construction and industrial production given to the Gulag are executed by prisoners.”[24] The Gulag may have exaggerated the role of prisoners in this case to claim more budget resources.  The Gulag also expected budget subsidies for non-working and disabled prisoners.  One document complains:  “In fact, the donation from the budget was lower than the expenses for the maintenance of the non-working prisoners and just covered the expenses for the maintenance of disabled persons and prisoners kept in transit camps until their forwarding to the camps and colonies.”[25]  Beginning in 1948, there were repeated attempts by the MVD to incorporate the Gulag directly into the state budget to obtain automatic subsidies.[26]

The Geography of the Gulag

The Gulag’s camps, colonies, prisons, labs, and mental hospitals were dispersed across the vast expanses of the USSR. Although Gulag operations took place in major metropolitan centers, such as the construction of the metro deep underneath Moscow, the major Gulag camps and colonies (listed in the Chapter by Khlevnyuk), which employed tens of thousands of prisoners, share one common feature: They were located in the northern and eastern parts of the Soviet Union in harsh climates and remote from civilization and transport. Geographical remoteness allowed prisoners to be isolated form the rest of the population and reduced the costs of security. However,  the main reason for location in the far north and east was the presence of valuable resources, such as Norilsk’s nickel ores (see Chapter by Ertz), Magadan’s gold ores (see Chapter by Nordlander), or the forestry reserves of Siberia, which required massive infrastructure investments to develop and which were shunned by free labor.

Chart 3 provides a map of the major Gulag camps and colonies, too numerous to name in this brief introduction. It clearly shows the skewed geographical distribution of camps and colonies to the north and east.

The Gulag’s Economic Contribution

            The Gulag held  somewhat less than two million prisoners in its colonies and camps in 1940. This number peaked at 2.5 million in the early 1950s after former POWs and other returnees from the war were added to the list of Gulag inmates.  Thus, in an economy that employed nearly 100 million persons, the Gulag accounted for two out of every hundred workers (See Chart 3). This percentage could overstate the Gulag’s share of labor because it includes invalids and other non-working inmates.  However, we have already shown that the Gulag had a larger number of so-called free workers; so the two percent figure is a reasonable estimate.  The Gulag was charged with some of the most difficult tasks of the economy such as heavy construction and work in harsh and remote climates that  would have required exceptional pay and effort if left to free labor. Some two thirds of Gulag economic activity was in construction, often in remote and cold regions with difficult transport. Although Gulag labor accounted for some 2 percent of the labor force, it accounted for about one in five construction workers in 1940 and 1951. While accounting for between 6 to 10 percent of total investment, its share of construction investment neared 20 percent in 1951. In fact, these figures understate the Gulag’s role in construction because, in 1938, 30 percent of the Gulag’s construction budget was hidden in  civilian construction ministries.[27] Gulag production of  the most precious and remote minerals such as gold and diamonds reached close to one hundred percent as Chart 3 shows.

The Gulag system was a by-product of collectivization, the Great Purges, draconian labor policies, and the aftermath of the Second World War.  It would be contrary to script if Stalin and his political allies did not regard the resulting  pool of inmates as a remarkable economic opportunity.  Like the peasants of the early 1930s who were supposed to deliver grain without compensation, Stalin would have presumed that similar surpluses could be extracted from Gulag labor.  In effect, the  basic presumption would have been  that penal workers could be forced to work efficiently and conscientiously without being offered real material incentives.  The chapters by Sokolov Borodkin and Ertz show the degree to which these expectations were not realized.  They all show that penal workers had to be offered wages and monetary bonuses, thereby raising their cost to the state.




















Table 1





(White Sea / Baltic)


Construction of the White Sea Channel

Severo-Vostochny (North-East)

Kolyma River

Development of the Far East and Production of Non-Ferrous Metals





Moscow region

Construction of the Moscow-Volga-Channel


Far East

Railroad Construction


Table 2 – Numbers of prisoners and camps (first of year)






Total number of inmates






Prisoners in camps






Total number of camps






Number of main






Guards (thousand)





Ratio of guards to inmates







1941    9414-1-368, 9414-1-1155, 9414-1-28

1947    9414-1-86

1951    9414-1-112

1953        9414-1-507

Table 3.  Distribution of Prison Labor (1947, 1950, 1953)

Main Glavki


Number of inmates (thousands)






Railroad construction






Military construction






Hydraulic Construction / Engineering






Metal mining






Far North Construction

















Third Department

Gulag production (special camps and colonies)





Contract workers

 Hired out





Total MVD







Sources: Various documents from 9414 -1 and (Systema ITL…, M.1996)

Note that the numbers involve some double counting; perhaps forestry workers are included both in the forestry glavk and as third department workers.


Table 4.  Contract Assignments of Prison labor force

November 1946

July 1950







Building projects in: Heavy industry



Ministry of Heavy Construction



Fuel industry



Coal industry



Non-ferrous metallurgy



Power plants



Coal industry (West and East)



Small engineering






Oil industry



Military and naval industry



Wood processing & paper industry.



Aviation industry



Metallurgical industry



Power plants



Aviation industry



Automotive engineering



Chemical industry



Ferrous metallurgy



Food industry



Food industry






Special Food Products



Agricultural engineering



Wood processing agricultural



Building materials industry






Automotive engineering



Building materials industry



House-building industry



Textile industry






Civil construction



Car- and tractor industry









Civilian Sector



Civilian Sector



Contracted to MVD













Sources: 1946 - 9414-1-2114, l.33, 1950 - 9414-1-1343, ll.96-98





Table 5

Employment in Construction and Industry of the Gulag Labor Corresponding to the Plan for 1950

(thousands of persons)






4 = 2+3





Hired out







































Total labor



















Source: 9414-1-1312. The calculations presented above are based upon the data of the “projected plan of the average annual labor requirements of the industrial and construction sectors for 1950”, drawn up by the planning department of the MVD.



 Sources: Gulag inmates, Table2, labor force including construction labor force: Warren Eason, “Labor Force,” in Abram Bergson and Simon Kuznets (eds.),  Economic Trends in the Soviet Union (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,  1963), pp. 77,82; Gulag construction labor is calculated at 75 percent of the total  following Table 5. Gulag investment figures are from GARF 9414-1-28, 9414-1-1312, 9414-1-188. The overall investment figures are from Richard Moorsteen and Raymond Powell, The Soviet Capital Stock, 1928-1962 (Homewood, Ill.: Richard D. Irwin, 1966), p. 391.  The mineral production shares are from  Ivanovna, Gulag v siteme totalitarnogo gosudarstva (Moscow 1997), p. 97.





[1] The author is particularly grateful to Aleksei Tikhonov who collected much of the statistical material cited in this chapter in the Soviet Gulag archives of the Hoover Institution.

[2] Marc Jannsen and Nikita Petrov, Stalin’s Loyal Executioner, People’s Commiaas Nikolai Ezhov, 1895-1940 (Stanford: Hoover Press, 2001).

[3] Oleg Khlevnyuk, “The Economy of the Gulag,: in Paul Gregory (ed.), Behind the Façade of Stalin’s  Command Economy (Stanford: Hoover Press,  2001), p.  111.

[4] Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 3 vols. (New York: Harper and Row, 1973).

[5] See for example Paul Gregory, The Political Economy of Stalinism: New Evidence from the Secret Soviet Archives (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

[6] S.A. Krasilnikov,  “Rozhdenie Gulaga: Diskussia v Verkhnikh Eschelonakh Vlasti: Postanovlenia Politburo TsK VKP(b), 1929-1930,” Istoricheskiy Archiv. 1997, N 4, p.142-156

[7] 9414-1-368, l.115

[8] 9414-1-368, l.115

[9]Vosniknovenie i Rasvitie ITL, ULAGa i GULAGa OGPU-NKVD-MKVD SSSR“ - 9414-1-369 (3.4708) l.129.

[10] 9414-1-502, l.158.

[11] 9414-1-368, l.118

[12] 9414-1-368, l.118

[13] 9414-1-368, l.120

[14] Sobranie Zakonov SSSR -1934, № 56, p.421 (see: 9414-1-368, l.117-118)

[15] 9414-1-2990, ll.5

[16] The Main Economic Administrations (glavki) independent from the Gulag were founded through the decree №00212 from the February 26,1941 by the NKVD.  They consisted of the following:  

GUShDS (Main Administration of Railroad Construction)

GUGidroStroi (Main Administration of Hydraulic Construction / Engineering)

GULGMP (Main Administration of Camps in Mining and Metallurgical Industry)

GULPS (Main Administration of Camps for Industrial Construction)

ULTP (Administration of Camps in Heavy Industry)

ULLP (Administration of Camps in Forestry and Wood Processing)

Administration of Construction of the Kuibyshev Industry Plants

Dal’stroi (Far Eastern Construction Trust)

            GULSchossDor (Main Administration of Camps for Highway Construction)



[18] 9414-1-374, l.55

[19] 9414-1-1170, l.1

[20] 9414-1-112, l.39

[21] 9414-1-112, 26

[22] 9414-1-1271, (f. 3.5086), l.66 (Circulation letter of the Chief of the Gulag, Dobrynin, to local administrators of camps and colonies (May, 4th, 1947).

[23] 9414-1-3712, l.169.

[24] 9414-1-118, l.4

[25] 9414-1- 118, l.4

[26] 9414-1-334, Report by Minister of Interior Kruglov including a similar proposal, written in 1948

[27] GARF 9414-1-1139.