The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


Belomorkanal / Stalin Canal

The White Sea-Baltic Canal (abbreviated Belomorkanal, BBK , up to 1961 - the White Sea-Baltic Canal named after Stalin) is also termed the Baltic-White Sea Canal, Belomoro-Baltiyskiy Kanal, Belomorsko-Baltijskij Kanal, Belomorsko-Baltiyskiy Kanal, Belomorsko-Baltiyskiy Kanal Imeni Stalina, Kanal Imeni Stalina, Stalin Canal, Stalin White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal, White Sea-Baltic Canal.

This canal connects the White Sea with Lake Onega, and having access to the Baltic Sea and the Volga-Baltic Waterway. It was built between 1931 and 1933 in a record time, opening on August 2, 1933. In July 1955, Stalin, Voroshilov and SM Kirov make a boat trip on the new man-made waterway. According to witnesses, Stalin said that the channel has turned out small and narrow, and described it as meaningless and useless (the canal depth at the time was only 3.65 meters).

From a strategic point of view, the canal made it possible to link the White Sea and the Baltic Sea. Already in 1933 the White Sea Canal allowed creating the defense of the northern borders of the state. Until that time, the north-coast of the Arctic was almost unguarded and were not protected against a possible invasion. The first ships passed the new water route were steel warships - one of the first Soviet "Decembrists" submarine class. However, the movement of deep draft vessels, primarily military, was impossible because of the shallow depth. For example, the submarines were transported by barge tows.

In comparison with other construction projects, the Belomorkanal's historical significance lies in the fact that it was the first time the labor force was exclusively prisoners. By the standards of the rule of law they were innocent people, especially the peasants, the so-called kulaks in collectivization deprived of their farms and driven into a work camp. In addition to individual clergy and other "class enemies", as representatives of the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia were among the political prisoners - mostly engineers and economists, who, starting with the "Shakhty case" in 1928, sentenced on false charges of sabotage as the wreckers.

In Russia today a popular variety of cigarettes, called "the White Sea Canal." It resembles a giant technical design of early Stalinism - of the White Sea-Baltic Canal, which surpassed the length of the Panama and Suez Canals, and was dug in the record time of twenty months: the brilliant accomplishment of the heroic age of the first five year plan. The inauguration of the White Sea Canal was held August 2, 1933 - six months after the early completion of the first five-year plan and in anticipation of XVII Party Congress, the "Congress of Victors" in January 1934. It was necessary to conquer the two enemies. One enemy was the nature of the Russian North, which was standing in the way of a grand construction project. Another enemy was the pre-revolutionary past, as it continued to live in the minds of the prisoners. Victory over this past allegorically was portrayed as construction of the canal, which became a symbol of revolutionary change.

This is the version of the Soviet authorities. However, after Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago" is clear that the heroic epic of the White Sea-Baltic Canal is a myth - it is based on the propaganda lies, continues to live in a brand of cigarettes. Belomorkanal is now synonymous, and indeed, not brilliantly heroic deeds, but with a huge concentration camp.

A speech by Molotov (chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR in 1930) of 8 March 1931 mentioned "Of particular importance is now developing in Karelia construction of the Baltic-Belomorian channel." This was the first public mention of the project, which was "the initiative of Comrade Stalin" in 1930. A politburo meeting of May 5, 1930 approved the project, which on 18 February 1931 was ratified by the Council of Labor and Defense (STO).

It was one of the major construction projects of the first Five-Year Plan and the first in the Soviet Union fully constructed by camp labor. The total length of the canal - 227 kilometers. It includes 19 gateways. It was awarded the Order of Red Banner of Labor in 1983. It is considered the pride of the first Five-Year Plan (1928-1932). Its construction and operation gave a powerful impetus to the development of Karelia and the White Sea. channel track with a total length227 km, Originates in the northern part Povenets lip of Lake Onega and is in Soroca Bay of the White Sea. The track channel for a considerable distance runs along the flooded valleys of the small rivers and numerous lakes. The structure of the White Sea Canal vhodit121 hydro construction, including 19 locks, 13 dams of various designs, 41 dam, 13 floodgates that regulate levels in pools of mezhshlyuzovyh, and other structures.

Construction was carried out by prisoners of the Gulag. Genrikh (Enoch) Yagoda, the head of the secret police, with Stalins support, created the vast economic empire of the gulags, with the use of slave labor. In the years 1931-32, the famous gulag of the White Sea-Baltic Canal project engulfed hundreds of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian peasants. The great writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn relates that a newspaper edition dated August 1933 and dedicated to the completion of the canal, published a list of the award-winning recipients: modest medals for cement workers and carpenters; supreme medals The Order of Lenin! for six persons whose large-scale portrait individual photographs were published in large format, in charge of the BelBaltlag [White Sea - Baltic Canal camp administration].

At the head of the collective, there stood Genrikh Yagoda, commissar of the NKVD; Matvei Berman, head of the gulag; Semyon Firin, head of the Belbaltlag camp; Lazar Kogan, head of construction; Yakov Rappoport, second head of construction; Naftaly Frenkel, head of the White Sea work site (and the evil genius of entire archipelago). Lazar Kogan worked as the head of the GULag; Zinovy Katsnelson was the deputy head of the GULag from 1934 onward; Izrail Pliner was the head of the GULag from 1936, and later he oversaw the completion of construction of the Moscow-Volga Canal (1937).

Lev Mekhlis was one of Stalins most loyal lieutenants. Even Stalin called him a fanatic, writes Simon Sebag Montefiore. With his halo of black hair and his pointed, bird-like face, Mekhlis, in his way, played as important a role as Molotov or Beria. Born at Odessa of Jewish parents in 1889, he left school at fourteen, and only joined the Bolsheviks in 1918. Appointed by the sole commissar in the Crimea, he distinguished himself for his cruelty during the civil war by executing thousands of adversaries. He became one of Stalins assistants and the confidante of all his secrets, working with a sick frenzy. In 1930, Stalin appointed him editor in chief of Pravda. Mekhlis was then promoted adjutant commissar for Defense and Head of the political administration of the Red Army.

The path along which the channel was known long ago - it was used as early as the XVI - the XVII century , primarily due to the fact that there is a road on which pilgrims go to the shrines of the Solovetsky Monastery. In the geographical description of Russia " Big Book of Drawings " ( 1627 ), White Sea Set path to the distances between the rivers and lakes, formed part of the way. Question compound of the White Sea and the Baltic Sea up to the level of government for centuries.

Construction was carried out mostly by prisoners of the Gulag, the total number does not exceed 126,000 people, but they were not the same people as they were constantly changing because of the high mortality rate. During the total time ever to build a canal there were sent to more than 250,000 people, of which 12 800 people were killed. In different periods of construction the number of inmates changed, not exceeding 108,000.

In June 1941, Germany began fighting against the Soviet Union. June 28 witnessed the first bombing of the channel. Attack were conducted against gateways number 6, 7, 8 and 9. The following day, on 29 June, there began a joint offensive of the Finnish and German troops against the Soviet Union. On December 6 the Finnish Army captured Povenets , thereby stopping the White Sea-Baltic Canal. The Finnish troops stopped at the line of the canal (on the western bank) and held the position until June 1944.

After the war, the damaged equipment was restored, and the channel was again put into operation in July 1946 through navigation all along the channel was restored July 28, 1946. In 1950, after the February 2, 1950 decree of the RSFSR Council of Ministers on the overhaul and reconstruction of hydraulic structures BBK, work began on the gradual electrification structures and channel mechanisms. In 1953, the staff of the waterworks included electricians, by 1957 they had largely completed the electrification of the waterworks on the northern slope of the channel, and in 1959 all coastal and floating situational lights were switched to the power supply.

The value of the White Sea-Baltic Canal increased especially after the commissioning of the modern Volga-Baltic Waterway in 1964. The canal capacity and the actual volume of freight traffic increased several times. In 1970 another channel reconstruction was carried out. During the reconstruction of the guaranteed depth of the fairway was brought to four meters, and the canal became a part of the Unified system of the European part of the RSFSR.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 17-01-2017 19:41:46 ZULU