Karlag Museum for the Commemoration of Victims of Political Repression
The Museum for the Commemoration of the Victims of Political Repression is located in the settlement of Dolinka, 40 kilometers from the city of Karaganda. During the Soviet period, there was Karlag, one of the most notorious Gulag labor camps.
Video by Zhanserik Akhmedin, Ilzat Safargaliyev
Back in 1929, the Gigant All-Union State Political Administration was created in Kazakhstan. At the end of that year, it was decided to establish at the state-owned farm the Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp known as Karlag.
The construction of the camp began when the native population faced the most tragic time - the beginning of the collectivization which caused famine. In those years, officers-in-charge committed atrocities in villages by executing the order of the Party to take everything away from people, to the last plant, to take away all livestock to the last lamb.
The existing beliefs that Karlag was set up in the desert steppe of central Kazakhstan are not true. The settlements of Kazakhs, Russians, Germans, and Ukrainians were located all over the area of the camp.
For the construction of Karlag, NKVD officers made the local population leave Dolinka settlement. The whole area was surrounded by barbed wire. Only those people who had special permits were allowed to enter the territory. The camp was subdivided into two more zones, on the boundaries of which guard towers were installed. Thus, the Gulag system began reigning in Central Kazakhstan.
The buildings of the Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp were constructed to last forever. Some of them have survived to this day. Taking a look at them, anyone would involuntarily shudder at the thought of the repressions of a large number of people. Karlag was a compelling embodiment of that.
Thousands of repressed people with their families - with their wives and children - were exiled to Dolinka. Many of them did not survive because of the harsh confinement conditions.
Short of the settlement, there is the Mothers Cemetery Memorial Site, where children and their mothers - the prisoners of Karlag - were buried in the 1930s-1940s. The graves are located a few kilometers from the building of the former administration of Karlag. A monument to those who died in Karlag camps was erected in the area of the Mothers Cemetery Memorial Site.
In the years of Independence of Kazakhstan, the Karlag administration building was renovated and now, there is the Museum for the Commemoration of Victims of Political Repression.
This year marks the 110th Anniversary since Dolinka settlement was created.