Google Maps users horrified by Gulag discovery deep in Russia’s Siberian tundra

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Eagle-eyed Google Maps users have made a grim discovery deep into Russia's harsh Siberian tundra.

Located at 69°24'19°N 87°38'57°E, the images appear to show disused buildings and piles of grey rubble, organised into a neat formation surrounded by nothing but open expanse.

Luckily, one person on the r/GoogleMaps Reddit page was on hand to explain what the mystery site was.

"It is indeed the Norillag labour camp," they wrote.

"You can even see the mining facility connected to the camp further west.

"Good catch OP [original poster]!"

Norillag, the Norilsk Corrective Labor Camp, was one of Russia's horror Gulags which was in operation from June 25, 1935 to August 22, 1956.

Those prisoners unlucky enough to be sent there were initially tasked with the construction of the Norilsk mining-metallurgic complex, operated by Russian mining and smelting company Norilsk Nickel.

However, over time their role was expanded to cover most economic functions of the baron region such as fishing. At one point they were even responsible for the reconstruction of a house where Joseph Stalin lived as an exile.

In 1935 the site housed just 1,200 inmates. That number soon skyrocketed with the onset of the Great Purge, Stalin's campaign to weed out political rivals and dissidents which began in 1936.

By 1937, the number of inmates had risen to 9,000. By 1951 there were 72,500 people housed there in 30 separate camp sections.

According to human rights group Memorial, Norillag housed 400,000 in total whilst it was in operation, with three quarters of those thought to be political prisoners.

Commenting on a nearby street view image some distance to the east of the Gulag, one person said on Reddit: "That's one of the most depressing places I've ever seen."

Evidently, that sentiment was shared by the inmates and in 1953 the Norillag camp system was the site of a major Gulag revolt following Stalin's death, known as the Norilsk uprising.

The uprising lasted 69 days and saw some 1,000 of the 16,378 dissidents killed.

The camp's closing in 1957 came as most of the Gulag system was finally scrapped.

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  • Google Maps
  • Russia

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