Map of Concentration Camps in Soviet Russia

An imposing propaganda map of the Soviet Gulag system published at the outset of the Cold War.

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Though its origins predated the conflict, the U.S.S.R.’s Gulag system grew significantly in the years immediately following World War II. Hordes of prisoners and civilian “criminals” were sent to special camps across Soviet territory, where forced labor, starvation, and abuses were rampant.

This is one of the first documented attempts to map the scale of the Soviet Gulag, created in 1945 by two Polish officers for inclusion in a book about the extent of slave labor. According to English text along the right and bottom borders, the map shows the U.S.S.R. organized by camp administrative districts. “The borders of the camps are outlined with a black, continual line. The inscriptions indicate the names of the camps in Russian…Black double circles are towns, where concentration camps exist.”

Photographs of Soviet documents, presumably evidence affirming their existence, can be seen along the top and bottom. The lower portion of the sheet also contains an outline of the primary economic objectives of each camp system (mining, timber, road construction, etc.).

References: Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection Item 1330.01

Map Details

Publication Date: 1945

Author: Sylwester Starzewski and Kazimierz Zamorski

Sheet Width (in): 27.40

Sheet Height (in): 19.50

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Moderate wear and creasing along fold lines, including some discoloration concentrated in the lower left of the image, near the inset. A few small spots in the margins and along the outer edges, but overall the map remains in very good or better condition.

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