Until 1956 Norilsk main labor force were prisoners
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Until 1956 Norilsk main labor force were prisoners

November 09, 2021

On April 12, 1956, an order was issued to transfer the Norilsk combine to a permanent civilian labor force.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. This was the final turning point in the fate of the city, which began in 1953, when the Norilsk mining and metallurgical combine was transferred from the jurisdiction of the Internal Affairs Ministry to the Metallurgical Industry Ministry.

In the same 1956, on September 1, the liquidation of the Norillag began, which was to be completed by January 1, 1957.

Of course, this did not mean that all the prisoners left Norilsk at once. Many were constrained at the right to leave, some had nowhere to go.

And yet, who was supposed to work in Norilsk if they could no longer use free labor?

The answer was voiced on May 19, 1956, when the government of the country, through the central newspapers, appealed to young people to go to the North and ‘develop the largest deposits of non-ferrous and rare metals’.

But it was nice only on paper. This is how the combine’s director, Alexey Loginov, later recalled the period:

“The employee turnover was terrible. One hundred and fifty thousand came. Hardly a third remained. They came, got an installation grant, took a look and left. Who wanted to live in the barracks! 250 people used to live in each barrack. Three-story bunks. It was characteristic that the labor camp was clean and tidy, but here…”

In the last issue of the History Spot photo project, we talked about how the first streets of today’s Norilsk used to be called.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

November 09, 2021

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