2004 World Monuments Watch
Instituted in the early years following the Bolshevik Revolution, the gulag system of prison camps constitutes one of the darkest chapters of Soviet history. Millions of Soviet citizens were arrested and interned in gulag camps throughout the USSR, where they performed forced labor under extreme conditions. Perm-36, the only intact gulag camp surviving in Russia, operated from 1946 until 1987, during which time it housed “enemies of the state,” as well as common criminals. All of the camp’s timber buildings were built by the prisoners themselves. Although Perm-36 in the western Ural Mountains warrants preservation as a potent reminder of political oppression and as a memorial to those who died in its confines, the site suffers as a result of poor construction and lack of maintenance. Many of the buildings have deteriorated and are in need of immediate attention. Nominators of the site hope that listing will generate the international interest necessary to preserve this potent reminder of humanity’s darker side.
Since the Watch
Following Watch listing, public funding and international attention for the site increased. Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom, a traveling exhibition in the United States on Soviet prison camps, ran from 2006 to 2008. Between 2005 and 2007 the organization Perm-36 Memorial Center of the History of Political Repression received $300,000 in funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, to support reconstruction, restoration and conservation. Nevertheless, in September 2014 the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience reported that the Perm-36 center had been forced to terminate its signature programs on political repression and totalitarianism. After months of political pressure, in March 2015, the museum announced that it is terminating all its activities and entering the process of liquidation. March 2015