Cover Osteuropa 6/2007

In Osteuropa 6/2007

Forced Labour in Noril’sk
An Atypical, Ideal Camp Complex

Simon Ertz

Deutsche Fassung


The central characteristic of the Stalinist camp system was forced labour. It is impossible to understand the camp system without analysing its function. In the example of Noril’sk, an industrial site in Russia’s far north built and run by forced labourers, it can be shown that prisoners were considered and handled as a matter of priority as an economic resource. Economic interests tend to force the tasks of isolating, punishing, and disciplining camp inmates into the background. This intentional hierarchy applied not only to Noril’sk, but to the Stalinist camp system as a whole. On the basis of the ideal type of the Noril’sk camp, however, this hierarchy stands out particularly clearly.

(Osteuropa 6/2007, pp. 289–300)