Performing The Camp
Performing the camp is a part of the 'sharashka' project and was filmed at Perm 36
Camp Perm 36 was originally known as ITK-6, which stood for: “collective labor colony number 6”. It functioned as a Soviet labor camp (Gulag), constructed during Stalin’s regime in 1946. The camp is located 120 kilometers from its closest village Kuchino in the Ural district. It was closed in 1987 and reopened in a form of a museum in 1994 by Memorial Society . Today it continues to function as a museum. Camp Perm 36 can be examined as geological site – divided into 3 main layers – the 3 different periods of its existence:
1. 1942-1953: In November 1942 a decision was made to build a camp in the area and in 1946 its actual construction began. During the first stage, 4 spaces were built: a Russian sauna (known as banya in Russian), 4 watchtowers on each side of the camp, a living area and one solitary confinement. The camp was surrounded by barbed wires. The population of the camp was diverse, while most of the prisoners were criminals, guilty of various misconducts. Only a very small percentage of prisoners were those who arrived on political grounds, trialed based on Article 58 . During that time, most of the prisoners who were accused of Article 58 were sent to other camps in the Kolyma circuit . The main activity of the camp’s prisoners was wood chopping. More than 40% of the Soviet wooden industry was manufactured by the prisoners at the various labor camps. This is one of the reasons the quantity of arrests increased, for the camps were forced to reach the government’s requested quota. During that time, the camp’s population was estimated to approximately 1000 prisoners.
2. 1953-1972: After Stalin’s death in 1953, many camps were closed. However, under Khrushchev ’s leadership, it was decided not to shut down camp Perm 36, due to the extensive finances and resources invested in the camp’s structure. During that time most of the camp’s prisoners were people from the Soviet prison system (former prison guards) who were accused of betrayal. The camp’s estimated population was around 800 prisoners. The prisoner’s activity changed from wood chopping into iron manufacturing. There is very little information to be found regarding the camp’s activity during this period.
3. 1972-1987: in the late 60’s, under Brezhnev’s presidency, Andropov , Head of the KGB at the time, issued a transfer of dissident prisoners (defined as political prisoners) to the Perm Triangle (including Perm 35, 36, 37). Perm 36 was considered to be the most kept and strict asylum amongst all labor camps at that time, and therefore many of them were sent there. Subsequently, during the third period of the camp’s existence, it held approximately 500 political prisoners. Twelve of these prisoners died in the camp. In fact, during these years, the camp’s population consisted of over 40% political prisoners; among them, prisoners who were accused of collaborating with the German government during the 2nd world war; human rights activists, writers, and active dissidents – working to affirm Russian connections with the Western world and openly opposing to the Soviet regime. Approximately 20% of the prisoners were nationalist prisoners and the rest were ‘regular’ criminals. The camp’s policy was to house the political prisoners – defined as Intelligentsia – next to highly dangerous criminals, in order to harden their conditions. In June 1988 a final order to close the camp was issued. Following its closure, parts of the camps were turned into a psychiatric asylum.