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· The White Sea Canal (originally the Stalin Sea
Canal) is a 227km long man-made ship canal that
opened on the 2nd August 1933
· Connecting the White Sea
with the Baltic Sea, it allowed
ships a route to the Baltic Sea
without having to go around
· Stalin proposed the building
of this canal, and construction
started at the end of 1930.
Around 170,000 Gulag
prisoners were used to
assemble it
· It was unsuccessful ­ at 11.5
CANAL R feet, it was too shallow for the
OUTE large cargo ships to pass
through…read more

Slide 3

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· The Canal was intended to be an example of success of the first
Five Year Plans, which concentrated on developing heavy industry
· Stalin saw the construction of the
canal as an opportunity to publicise
the way the Russia rehabilitates its
criminals (of Gulag) through
"allowing them to contribute to the
well-being of the state"
· After the canal was opened, industry
developed in the surrounding area of
Belomorsk, especially the cellulose paper
industry. Before the construction of the
canal, socialism had little impact on this
"DOWN W · It was greatly publicized, but was ultimately
ITH THE economically useless ­ it is ice bound six
months of the year, and too small for cargo
vessels…read more

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· The state had no currency with which to purchase construction
materials and equipment ­ therefore NKVD chief and head of the
project, Herschel Jagoda, decided labour camp prisoners would
be substituted
· Workers found guilty of
sabotaging the Five Year Plan
were either sent to work on the
canal, or killed
· OGPU secret police supervised
the Gulag prisoners brutally. Over
10,000 prisoners died
· The prisoners were a mix of criminals,
peasants and political prisoners.
Throughout construction, they lived in
nine camps along the route
ORK…read more

Slide 5

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"...The hungrier we were, the
worse we worked. The worse
we worked the hungrier we
became. From that vicious
circle there was no escape."
Former Gulag prisoner, 1953…read more

Slide 6

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· The White Sea Canal was the regime's first "Storm project": all
available resources must be allocated to the on-time completion,
no matter the cost. As little technology as possible was to be used.
"Unlimited resources" referred to prisoners
· The canal fulfilled the aims of
the Five Year Plans: developing
and modernising heavy Soviet
· Stalin intended for the prisoners
to achieve the ideological status
"New Socialist Man" through
`reforging` (Perekovka), hoping to
make the workers into honest
BUILDING "In this new society, old ways must
THE CAN die so a new system can be born"
AL…read more

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