Deaths on the White Sea Canal, 1931-1933 According to official figures, during the construction of Belomor, the White Sea Canal, 2.24% of the prisoners in the BelBaltlag camp complex died in 1931 (1,438 persons), 2.03% died in 1932 (2,010 persons) and in 1933, due to famine in the USSR and the rapidly approaching deadline to finish the project, 10.56% of the prison workforce died (8,870 persons). 7, but it did no damage. Two major seas … The White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal (Russian: Беломо́рско–Балти́йский кана́л, Belomorsko–Baltiyskiy Kanal, BBK), often abbreviated to White Sea Canal (Belomorkanal) is a ship canal in Russia opened on 2 August 1933. View Homework Help - 1.1 White Sea Canal Exercise 052012 from PROJECT MA 6K285 at University of Iowa. Genrikh Yagoda, Deputy Chairman of the OGPU, as well as Berman, Firin, Kogan, and Rappoport were awarded medals for the completion of the canal by the Politburo on July 15, 1933.[18]. In addition to convicts and "special settlers", the Combine employed about 4500 free employees and a paramilitary security force. The White Sea–Baltic Canal connects the White Sea with the Baltic Sea. The White Sea–Baltic Canal is 141 miles (227 km) long, 23 miles (37 km) of which is manmade. The canal was constructed by forced labor of gulag inmates. The company was fined and future operations were refused. 944 pages. It connects the White Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, with Lake Onega, which is further connected to the Baltic Sea. Over 100,000 prisoners dug a 141-mile canal with few tools other than simple pickaxes, shovels, and makeshift wheelbarrows in just 20 months. The canal project also gave the Russian language the slang word "zeka", "zek, z/k" for "inmate". 1 to 7). why they would do that? From inside the book . The entire canal was constructed in twenty months, between 1931 and 1933, almost entirely by manual labor. For example, in the summer of 2007, a large piece of equipment for Rosneft's Siberian Vankor Oil Field was delivered by the Amur-1516 from Dzerzhinsk on the Oka River, via the Volga–Baltic Waterway and the White Sea Canal to Arkhangelsk, and from there by the ocean-going SA-15 class Arctic cargo ship Kapitan Danilkin to Dudinka on the Yenisei River. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). This canal connects the White Sea with Lake Onega, and having access to the Baltic Sea and the Volga-Baltic Waterway. As of 2008, it carries only light traffic of between ten and forty boats per day. After Povenets there are seven locks close together, forming the "Stairs of Povenets". Сталинские стройки ГУЛАГа.1930–53», Москва, 2005. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. That meant that all available resources should be invested to ensure the project was completed on time whatever the cost. [32] The White Sea Canal was also constructed with this military use in mind,[33] and what this canal allowed? This would significantly reduce the travel time and the cost of transporting goods, since it would not be necessary to bypass Scandinavia through the Barentsevo, Norwegian, Northern and Baltic Seas. The route followed by the Baltic-White Sea Canal has been well-known since ancient times. [27] 6, 7, 8, and 9, followed the next day by Finnish troops advancing along the Finland-USSR border. (…) I thought up the word: 'kanaloarmeyets'. The opposing armies held these positions until June 1944. In August, the management of the BBK and most of the 800 canal staff were evacuated from Medvezhyegorsk to Lock No. So the Canal is being invested in. On the other hand, the great Dneproges dam was a generally successful hydroelectric project on the largest scale. One notable Stalinist showpiece, the White Sea canal, was designed to allow warships and commercial vessels to pass between the Baltic and the White … White Sea - Wikipedia However, in the 1930s the White Sea – Baltic Canal was built, and the Northern Dvina Canal lost its significance. At the same time, heavy fighting took place near the Povenets Lock Ladder (Locks No. The vertical axis is the elevation of the canal segments above mean sea level. According to official records and accounts in the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, between 12,000 and 240,000 laborers died during the construction of the canal… The Canal should have been connected Onega Lake and the White Sea, and 37 km were dug through the ground and cliffs for this purpose. 4 and 20 had all been demolished. История строительства, The I.V. The canal runs for 141 miles along a route that was considered strategically important for the shipment of cargo. The following illustration depicts the profile of the White Sea–Baltic Canal. The Combine was charged with operating the canal and managing the economic development of the adjacent areas, including 2.8 million hectares of forest lands and the industrial facilities that had been constructed along the route. ред. The white sea canal opened on Wednesday 2 August 1933, (until 1961, it was known as the “Stalin White Sea-Baltic Canal”). Gorky, who had previously visited the Solovetski Islands labor camp in 1929 and written about it in the Soviet journal Our Accomplishments,[23] organized the White Sea trip, but did not himself join it. 19 in Belomorsk, with only 80 left at their stations. The northern slope has twelve locks numbered 8–19. White Sea–Baltic Canal, Russian Belomorsko-baltiysky Kanal, system of rivers, lakes, and canals in northwestern Russia that connects the White Sea to Lake Onega, where it joins the Volga-Baltic Waterway (q.v.). Built between 1931 and 1933, the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal was the first massive construction project of the Gulag. The White Sea–Baltic Canal (Russian: Беломо́рско–Балти́йский кана́л, Byelomorsko–Baltiyskiy Kanal, BBK), often abbreviated to White Sea Canal (Belomorkanal) is a ship canal in Russia opened on 2 August 1933. Minimum lock dimensions are 14.3 m (47 ft) wide by 135 m (443 ft) long. "History of Karelia from antiquity to our time", editors: N.A. One of the ideas is to travel from St Petersburg to… Korablev, V.G.Makurov, Yu.A.Savvateev, M.I.Shumilov; Petrozavodsk, Periodika Publishers, 2001. [37][38] These locks are the southern slope of the canal. Soviet sappers blew up Lock No. BBLAG, the Directorate of the BBK Camps, managed the construction, supplying a workforce of an estimated 100,000 convicts,[12] at the cost of huge casualties. [28] It is now operated by the White Sea and Lake Onega Waterways and Shipping Administration The canal served as a testing ground for the use of forced labor in a massive infrastructure project. Cargo tonnage peaked in 1985, with 7.3 million tonnes transported. As is discussed further below, during the 1930s a number of smaller naval vessels were transferred from the Baltic to the White Sea to provide warships for the Soviet Northern Naval Flotilla, which became the Northern Fleet in 1937.[25]. Gorky, Maxim, Leopold Auerbach und Semjon Grigorjewitsch Firin: From Povenets, at the northern end of Lake Onega, the canal runs northward to Lake Vygozero (using seven locks), from which the canalized Vyg River (with 12 additional locks) leads to the White Sea. On February 2, 1950, the RSFSR Council of Ministers issued an order for the overhaul and reconstruction of the BBK's structures, with gradual electrification of the canal's structures and machinery. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In particular, he emphasizes that politics and public relations ruined the usefulness of the canal: Stalin seems to have been so intent on creating a highly visible symbol of development that he pushed and squeezed the project in ways that only retarded the reality of development. Stalin White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal (Russian: Беломорско-Балтийский канал имени Сталина), published at the end of 1934. The canal’s speedy completion provided an impetusforothersimilarprojects,suchasDalstroiandtheMoskva-Volga Canal. The White Sea is an important route connecting the economically active portions of northwestern Russia with Russia’s Far Eastern ports and with foreign countries. The principal cargo on the system is timber, much of it for paper mills and timber-working enterprises along the route. The White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal project took the lives of 12,000 of its construction labor workforce, which was made up entirely of inmates. From the very first days of its opening the canal has been used mainly by cargo ships. The horizontal axis is the length of the canal. The canal was the first major project constructed in the Soviet Union using forced labor. The History of the Construction" (, Беломорско-Балтийский канал имени Сталина. [13] Although prison labor camps were usually kept secret, the White Sea Canal was a propaganda showcase of convicts "reforging" themselves in useful labor (Soviet concept of perekovka, reforging or rehabilitation). Omissions? [31], Russian (and later Soviet) naval strategists long believed that a well-designed canal system could help establish contact among the separate fleets based on Russia's Black Sea, Baltic, Arctic, Pacific, and Caspian coasts. After many years of interruption, Volgotanker resumed the canal route in 2003. Locks on the White Sea-Baltic Canal. [41], Coordinates: .mw-parser-output .geo-default,.mw-parser-output .geo-dms,.mw-parser-output .geo-dec{display:inline}.mw-parser-output .geo-nondefault,.mw-parser-output .geo-multi-punct{display:none}.mw-parser-output .longitude,.mw-parser-output .latitude{white-space:nowrap}62°48′N 34°48′E / 62.800°N 34.800°E / 62.800; 34.800, Profile of the canal showing the locks and elevation, Беломорско-Балтийский канал имени Сталина, Сроки работы шлюзов (Lock operation periods), from the site of the Russian Shipping Companies' Association. [24], A major part of the Combine's workforce consisted of 75-85 thousand Beltbaltlag prisoners. The canal was constructed between 1931 and 1933 by forced labor of Gulag inmates. By the morning of December 8, Locks No 1 to 6, and dams No. What do you think?" Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. There was even a comedic play written about the canal by Nikolay Pogodin. The canal was constructed between 1931 and 1933 by forced labor of Gulag inmates. I'm planning a bit of a shindig around Scandanavia popping in to Russia for a little bit at somepoint. and is it true that the Soviet leaders after opening the gates drowned 1000s of the men who were forced laborourers who built this? [7][8][9] The canal was originally proposed to be 5.4 m (17.7 ft) deep; however, the cost and time constraints of Stalin's first five-year plan forced the much shallower draught.[10]. At other times these teams were pitted to compete against each other in surpassing the norms, and promises were made of shortened sentences, food and cash bonuses for the champions. It was built between 1931 and 1933 in a record time, opening on August 2, 1933. The current flows north from Lake Onega to the White Sea, and all navigation marks are set according to it. Its construction was completed four months ahead of schedule, though it was entirely too shallow for the planned use. [39], Since then, the canal has been regularly used for delivering submarines by transporter dock from the Baltic Shipyard and Krasnoye Sormovo to Sevmash for completion. After the canal had been completed and opened for navigation, the Belbaltlag (White Sea-Baltic Camp) was reorganized into the White Sea-Baltic Combine (Baltiysko-Belomorsky Kombinat [BBK]), still within the NKVD system, by an order of the Council of People's Commissars of August 17, 1933. Updates? The first massive construction project was the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. White Sea Canal The White Sea-Baltic Canal is a grand Soviet construction built in 1931-1933 where prison labor of the Gulag was used for the first time. The company had plans to carry 800,000 tonnes of fuel oil over the canal during 2003, and to increase the volume to 1,500,000 t (1,476,000 long tons; 1,653,000 short tons) in 2004. The White Sea Canal: Being an Account of the Construction of the New Canal Between the White Sea and the Baltic Sea. The system, which can take ships of seagoing size, has both strategic and commercial significance, for it shortens the sea passage from St. Petersburg to Arkhangelsk by 2,500 miles (4,000 km). Buildings are newly renovated and painted as well. Until 1961, its original name was the Stalin White Sea–Baltic Canal (Belomorsko-Baltiyskiy Kanal imeni Stalina). In conditions of low visibility (less than one km) navigation is halted. The settlements of Povenets, Segezha, Nadvoitsy, Sosnovets, and Belomorsk are located along the canal. Russia's Volgotanker Company, with a fleet of suitably sized petroleum tankers and ore-bulk-oil carriers, pioneered this route starting August 1970, when Nefterudovoz-3 delivered a cargo of fuel oil to the White Sea port of Kandalaksha.[31]. On December 5, Finnish troops entered Medvezhyegorsk. WHITE SEA CANAL The White Sea (Belomor) Canal in Karelia rises from Lake Onega in the south to a maximum of 108 meters (118.1 feet) at Lake Vyg and then descends to the White Sea in the north. On the night of November 12/13, another boat caravan froze in Zaonezhsky Bay near Megostrov Island, and was later captured by Finnish troops. One of the most important construction projects of the first five-year plan (1929–32). Another upgrade took place in the 1970s. According to official records and accounts in the works of Aleksandr... Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images Mikoyan approved. Usage rose gradually in the 21st century, but remained well below the Soviet-era peak, with just 0.3 million tonnes in 2002. Thus the workers and engineers were never allowed the time, money or equipment necessary to build a canal that would be deep enough and safe enough to carry twentieth-century cargoes; consequently, the canal has never played any significant role in Soviet commerce or industry.[15]. The White Sea Canal: A Hymn of Praise for Forced Labour. There was no action near the White Sea–Baltic Canal during the Winter War of 1939-1940, when the USSR invaded Finland. Construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal (Belomorkanal). Rebuilding was completed by July 1946, with navigation through the canal restored on July 28, 1946. Unofficial estimates have … The word is still in colloquial use. Transfer operations began 24 June 2003, but on 1 September a low-speed collision between Volgotanker's Nefterudovoz-57M and the Latvian Zoja-I during a transfer caused a crack in the Nefterudovoz's hull, with a subsequent oil spillage estimated at 45 t (44 long tons; 50 short tons), of which only 9 t (8.9 long tons; 9.9 short tons) were recovered. [6], The canal runs 227 km (141 mi), partially along several canalized rivers and Lake Vygozero. It was constructed between 1930 and 1933, largely by penal labour. The workforce for the Canal was supplied by the Belbaltlag camp directorate (White Sea–Baltic Corrective Labor Camp Directorate, WSBC) of the OGPU GULAG. Speed is limited to 8 km/h (4.3 kn; 5.0 mph) in all artificial portions. There is a monument at Povenets for the prisoners who perished during the construction, and a smaller memorial in Belomorsk near the White Sea end. Alternatively, from Lake Onega river ships can sail eastward into the Volga–Baltic Waterway. Similarly, Aleksandr Avdeenko's account of Belomor includes conversations between OGPU chief Semyon Firin and Prince Mirsky that reveal at least some of the writers were aware of its true nature. The White Sea Canal was the regime's first “storm project” complete with an agenda for a project of national significance. The navigable channel is 36 m (118 ft) wide and 3.5 m (11.5 ft) deep, with a radius of curvature of 500 m (1,640 ft). White Sea–Baltic Canal, system of rivers, lakes, and canals in northwestern Russia that connects the White Sea to Lake Onega, where it joins the Volga-Baltic Waterway (q.v.). On December 6 in a -37 °C frost, Finnish troops captured Povenets, the southern entrance to the BBK. Some unfinished submarines from Leningrad's Baltic Shipyard and Gorky's Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard sailed to the new Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. Corrections? Maksim Gorky, Leopolʹd Averbakh, Semen Georgievich Firin, Amabel Williams-Ellis. The canal empties out into the Soroka Bay of the White Sea at Belomorsk. The Finns crossed the canal and captured Gabselga village to the east, but after a few days of fighting they were pushed back to the canal's western side. Once the locks of the Povenets Ladder had been destroyed, water from the watershed lakes poured freely into Lake Onega through Povenets village, which was nearly completely destroyed by the flood. Still there isn’t a lot of traffic. The importance of BBK for the national economy greatly increased after the commissioning of the modern Volga-Baltic Waterway in 1964. The latter term coined in an analogy with the words "krasnoarmeyets" meaning "member of the Red Army" or trudarmeyets (member of a labor army). BACKGROUND The notion of a canal that would connect the Baltic and White Seas Canal capacity and the annual volume of freight traffic increased several-fold. The commandos were to blow up the canal locks, but they failed due to heightened security.[26]. By the time construction began, the Soviet Union had already begun to execute several similarly grand, … In 1953, the locks' staff hired electricians; by 1957, the electrification of the locks of the northern slope was completed; and by 1959 all coastal and floating navigation lights were switched to electric power. The White Sea-Baltic Canal connects Lake Onega with the White Sea. (Беломорско-Онежское государственное бассейновое управление водных путей и судоходства), which is also responsible for shipping on Lake Onega and in the Belomorsk harbor area (but not in the open waters of the White Sea). Stalin White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal is a 1934 Soviet historical volume detailing the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal and the labor used to construct it. Baltic-White Sea Canal a canal that connects the White Sea with Lake Onega. There was no lack of possibilities, but one in particular appealed to Stalin: the construction of a vast canal, from the White Sea to the Baltic Sea, across a landscape largely composed of sheer granite. During the reconstruction, the guaranteed depth of the fairway was increased to 4 meters, and the channel became part of the Unified Deep Water System of European Russia. the White Sea–Baltic Canal in the history of the Gulag. The Panama Canal, which is 80 kilometers long, was built in 28 years, while the 160-kilometers-long Suez Canal was built in ten years. Until 1961, its original name was the Stalin White Sea–Baltic Canal (Belomorsko-Baltiyskiy Kanal imeni Stalina). The locks and the surrounding areas are newly renovated, including new fences with barbed wire at the top. The workforce was organized into brigades of 25–30, which made up phalanges of 250–300. On June 28, the canal was bombed for the first time by the Finnish Air Force, targeting Locks No. https://www.britannica.com/topic/White-Sea-Baltic-Canal, Presidential Library - The White Sea-Baltic Canal Construction was Completed, Stanford University - Hoover Institution - The White Sea–Baltic Canal. The White Sea–Baltic Canal is 141 miles (227 km) long, 23 miles (37 km) of which is manmade. The canal gave its name to the Belomorkanal Soviet cigarette brand. After the successful construction, 12,484 prisoners were freed as reward, and for 59,516 prison terms were shortened. After Finland left the war in September 1944, the damage to the canal, including the complete destruction of its southern section and the town of Povenets and damage to lighthouses and other structures, was repaired. Construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal . According to the Soviet account, in 1932 when Anastas Mikoyan visited the Belomorstroy construction site, Lazar Kogan asked, "Comrade Mikoyan, what shall we call them? With Germany's full-scale invasion of the USSR in 1941, supported by Finland in the Continuation War, the canal route became the front line. Its economic advantages are limited by its minimal depth of 3.5 m (11.5 ft),[citation needed] inadequate for most sea-going vessels. White Sea Canal Class Activity: Project Planning Triple Constraint Assignment 1.1 In the early Being an account of the construction of the new canal between the White Sea and the Baltic Sea. A carefully prepared visit in August 1933 to the White Sea–Baltic Canal may have hidden the worst of the brutality from a group of 120 Russian writers and artists, the so-called Writers Brigade, including Maxim Gorky, Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Viktor Shklovsky, and Mikhail Zoshchenko, who compiled a work in praise of the project, the 600-page The I.V. [29] In 2011, heavy equipment for the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro power plant was shipped from Saint Petersburg via the canal, the Arctic Sea, and the Yenisei River. Supposedly "reforging class enemies" (political prisoners) through "corrective labor", the working conditions at the BBK Camp were brutal, with the prisoners given only primitive hand tools to carry out the massive construction project. It was constructed between 1 On August 28, the fifth and final bombing raid of the 1941 navigation season took place against Lock No. In Russian, "inmate", "incarcerated" is заключённый (zakliuchyonnyi), usually abbreviated to "з/к" in paperwork, and pronounced as "зэка" (IPA: [zɨˈka], "zeh-KA"), which gradually transformed into "зэк" and "зек", zek (both pronounced as IPA: [ˈzɛk]). The White Sea-Baltic Canal was finished in the early 1930's, and it connects the White Sea with the Baltic Sea. In 1935, the work was translated from Russian into English and subsequently published in England as The White Sea Canal and in the United … The I.V. It is also linked to the water transportation system of European Russia by the White Sea–Baltic Canal, which empties into Lake Onega. In all, the Combine's employees accounted for about 25% of the population of the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Some undertakings were ill-considered: the Baltic–White Sea Canal, supposedly completed in 1933, employed some 200,000–300,000 forced labourers but proved almost useless. The White Sea–Baltic Canal (Russian: Беломо́рско-Балти́йский кана́л, Byelomorsko-Baltiyskiy kanal, BBK), often abbreviated to White Sea Canal (Belomorkanal) is a ship canal in Russia opened on Wednesday 2 August 1933. [30], In Soviet times, the canal was used for shipping oil products from refineries on the Volga River to consumers in the Murmansk Oblast and overseas. 1 was the first to be blown up. The commandos were Finnish volunteers recruited by the German Major Schaller, and were equipped with German uniforms and weapons, as the Finnish General Staff wanted no responsibility for the operation. The White Sea–Baltic Canal (Russian: Беломо́рско-Балти́йский кана́л, Byelomorsko-Baltiyskiy kanal, BBK), often abbreviated to White Sea Canal (Belomorkanal) is a ship canal in Russia opened on Wednesday 2 August 1933. On top of that, for the project’s “ideological support,” the OGPU needed "engineers of the human soul"—artists, photographers, writers, and poets. Paramilitary security force, V.G.Makurov, Yu.A.Savvateev, M.I.Shumilov ; Petrozavodsk, Periodika Publishers, 2001 axis is the of... Km ) navigation is halted, employed some 200,000–300,000 forced labourers but proved almost useless this email, are! ( 1929–32 ) as of 2008, it carries only light traffic of between ten and forty boats per.! 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