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Genesis: Historical research
Reference:

Economic aspects of the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet camp system in the first half of the 1950s. (based on the Southern Kuzbass Corrective Labor Camp of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR materials).

Ryabova Yuliya Vladimirovna

PhD in History

Associate Professor, Department of УManagement in Social and Economic Systems, Philosophy and HistoryФ, Ural State Transport University

66 Kolmogorova str., Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk region, 620034, Russia

YuRyabova@usurt.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-868X.2024.1.69573

EDN:

DJKZKL

Received:

13-01-2024


Published:

06-02-2024


Abstract: Using the example of the Corrective Labor Camp of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, some economic aspects of the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet camp system in the first half of the 50s are considered. The twentieth century particular attention is paid to the issue of expenses and income of the forced labor camp. Based on archival materials from the current archive of the Main Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Kemerovo Region, a list of expenses is given, as well as the amount of money spent by the state on the maintenance of the prison population and the forced labor camp as a whole. Data on the costs required to maintain the camp economy are correlated with the amount of money for which the contingent produced marketable products annually. Information is provided on the amount of financial assistance received by the forced labor camp from the state budget and from the departmental unit under the jurisdiction of which it was located. The novelty of the research lies in the appeal to unpublished archival documents of the current archive of the Main Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Kemerovo region and in local history topics that have not received widespread scientific coverage. The author comes to the conclusion that the income received from the labor activities of the prison population not only did not compensate for the costs of servicing the activities of the correctional labor camp, but also significantly exceeded them. Analysis of documentary material clearly showed that the use of forced labor was not cheap for the state, much less free. The state spent significant sums to organize camp production and maintain the prison population. The camp existed thanks to annually received government grants and subsidies.


Keywords:

GULAG, USSR, Kemerovo region, forced labor camp, forced labor, prisoners, Southern Kuzbass Corrective Labor Camp of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, camp economy, economic efficiency, logging

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The study of a special sector of the Soviet camp economy based on the use of forced labor still remains in the field of view of modern historians. Until the end of the 1980s, the issues of labor use of convicted citizens at economic facilities of the USSR were not subject to publicity and discussion. Russian historical science covered only the work of freelance citizens, which for a long time seemed to be the only type of labor relations in the Soviet state.

Foreign historians (D. Dallin and B. I. Nikolaevsky, B. Ya. Yakovlev, B. Troitsky, etc.) on the contrary, starting in the 1940s, they did not abandon attempts to highlight the topic of forced labor in the Soviet Union, but without access to a documentary base, they relied on the subjective testimonies of eyewitnesses who found themselves abroad, on their memoirs, which often led to a distortion of reality. They were primarily interested in the scale of forced labor in the USSR, its quantitative data reflecting the total population held in Soviet labor camps, as well as specific correctional labor camps, special settlements and colonies, their organizational structure and functions.

The access to archival materials opened in the late 1980s allowed domestic and foreign researchers to obtain reliable information about the production and economic activities of the GULAG, the Soviet penitentiary system, political repression, and the essence of Stalinist totalitarianism. Fundamental works by V. N. Zemskov [6-8], O. V. Khlevnyuk [24-26], G. M. Ivanova [9-13], A. B. Suslov [18-20], N. Y. Belykh [1, 2], A. K. Sokolov [16, 17], S. I. Kuzmin [14], S. A. Krasilnikov [15], N. V. Upadysheva [21], R. S. Bikmetov [3] and other authors, based on national and regional material, revealed various aspects of forced labor in the Soviet Union. Foreign researchers, in particular, R. Stettner, S. Ertz, M. Jacobson, N. Werth, E. Applebaum, G. Persson, M. Sprau, P. Gregory [5, p. 179] also joined the study of the issues of the Soviet camp-industrial complex.

Many issues related to the Soviet totalitarian system have received sufficient coverage in historical science, but the problem of the production and economic activities of individual camp complexes and colonies, and especially their economic feasibility, remains less studied. The question of the effectiveness of the GULAG system as a whole is not only of interest to researchers, but also remains controversial. One cannot disagree with the opinion of O. V. Khlevnyuk, who believed that "if the quantitative proportions of the forced labor economy, as one hopes, sooner or later will be calculated accurately enough, then the general assessments of this economy, the problems of its effectiveness and role in the implementation of Soviet industrialization, are likely to remain controversial, due to the uncertainty and ambiguity of the very the subject" [23, p. 45].

Indeed, each of the historians puts a different meaning to the concept of "the effectiveness of forced labor." According to Fedotova I. N., "economic efficiency should be analyzed in conjunction with such a concept as the effect of production. It refers to the result of the production process, i.e. the amount of work performed. Efficiency is defined as the ratio between the result and the cost of all resources used in the production process: material, financial and labor. Thus, the effect and efficiency represent, respectively, the absolute and relative values characterizing social production" [22, p. 559].

A.V. Suslov, addressing the issue of the effectiveness of the use of forced labor, noted that "for historical research, it is often more important not even to clarify the ratio of result to cost, which actually corresponds to the definition of efficiency within the framework of economic theory. Most of all, we are interested in the comparative side of the matter: was forced labor more effective (i.e., essentially more productive) than the labor of freelance workers" [18, p. 258].

Belykh believes that "the conversation about the effectiveness of forced labor, apparently, should be conducted not in the plane of a purely economic understanding of this term, but from the point of view of what was meant by "efficiency", primarily by the country's top political leadership. ...It becomes clear that, solving a number of specific economic tasks ("industrialization", "resource mobilization", "colonization of raw material regions", etc.), the Kremlin leaders had in mind certain political priorities, and in their approach to solving questions about the expediency of large-scale use of forced labor, they proceeded primarily from the possibility of using it administratively.mobilization resources. At the same time, production efficiency was considered not as a cost-to-result ratio, but as a forced solution to current political and economic problems" [1, pp. 48-49].

S. A. Shevyrin came to the conclusion that "the efficiency of the production activities of camps and colonies was extremely low, and often negative. ...the effect of the production activities of correctional labor institutions was. The effect is in the sense of saving money for the maintenance and correction of prisoners and obtaining some funds that at least partially recouped the costs of penitentiary practice. Also, the forced nature of the prisoners' labor also made it possible to save money on creating acceptable living and working conditions for freelance citizens. But in the end, the resulting economic effect (savings rather than effect) could not be compared with the damage received. The main type of damage was the death of hundreds of thousands of people. One of the most important economic effects of the use of forced labor was the longЧterm anomaly of the country's economic growth - extensive growth, when an increase in the product produced was achieved by increasing the number of people employed in production, rather than using new technologies and equipment. Which could not but lead to a crisis in industrial relations built on coercion in the age of technology and technology development" [27, pp. 196-197].

The above brief and far from complete analysis of the available points of view clearly demonstrates the existence of controversy and the existence of different approaches around the problem of the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet GULAG system. In this discourse, according to the author, the proponents of two approaches are identified: economic and political. Supporters of the former rely on the foundations of economic theory and consider efficiency as the ratio of result to cost, while adherents of the latter Ц as an accelerated solution of important political and economic tasks. But, in any case, the solution to this issue cannot be unfounded and groundless, it must be based on reliable facts, statistical data, comparative characteristics for certain categories of special agent, industries, regions, etc. Here, researchers face difficulties related, firstly, to the objectivity of Gulag statistics, with overestimated indicators, with the presence of so-called "bullshit", and secondly, with the absence or extreme limitation of sources. Since 1954, according to the Orders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR and the instructions attached to them, regular destruction of documentation, including production documentation, which could provide answers to many questions, took place in correctional labor institutions. Therefore, a microlevel study of preserved materials on individual camps and colonies helps to restore data on the degree of efficiency of prisoners' work, which in the future, by comparison and analysis, will allow us to draw objective conclusions at the macro level.

In this regard, based on specific historical material, in particular, on the documents of the South Kuzbass ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR for 1950-1956 preserved in the archive of the GUFSIN for the Kemerovo region. We consider it necessary to cite certain aspects of the effectiveness of forced labor from an economic point of view.

Let's turn to a brief description of the camp. The South Kuzbass ITL of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs was one of the largest camps in the Kemerovo region. It was located in remote areas of Mountainous Shoria and operated from 1947 to 1968. The camp went through several structural reorganizations (in 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957) and continued its work after the dismantling of the GULAG system. The basis of its activity was logging production based on harvesting, transportation and processing of wood. In addition, ITL was engaged in agricultural and woodworking production. The basis of the camp's working fund was made up of prisoners, whose number by 1952 had reached more than 24 thousand people. Until 1953, the camp annually increased its production capacity, increased the volume and range of commercial products. The reorganization of the Gulag system in 1953 led to a crisis in the production activities of the Yuzhkuzbasslag, to a change in its structure and departmental subordination, but despite the existing organizational difficulties, the camp retained its functions and continued to perform production tasks.

As part of the study of the problem of the effectiveness of forced labor, the author considers it necessary to specify the costs that were spent on the maintenance of the camp and the contingent. There is a misconception that using the labor of a special agent did not require special financial expenses from the state, that it was enough to bring prisoners to the place of deployment of the ITL, build barracks, fence with barbed wire, place paramilitary guards, determine the front of work, issue a working tool and monitor the performance of production tasks. But in fact, there were significantly more items of expenditure only for the maintenance of the contingent, and the state allocated quite a lot of money for this. Undoubtedly, favorable conditions for work and recreation were not created for convicted workers, but only minimal conditions for ensuring their vital activity, and even those did not always meet sanitary and hygienic requirements, which led to high morbidity and mortality.

†Using the example of the Yuzhnokuzbassky ITL (Table 1), it can be said that in addition to the primary costs of transporting and staging prisoners, feeding them, providing them with clothing, funds were required to create communal living conditions, medical and cultural and educational services, purchase and repair of production equipment. Starting in 1950, expenses for the payment of wages to workers were added to the aboveЧlisted costs, and since 1955 - additional funds for liberation, for industrial and general education training, contributions to the fund for assistance to the liberated. According to the data given in table 1, the actual costs of maintaining the contingent sometimes exceeded the planned ones (for example, in 1951, 1955, 1956), and in some cases, on the contrary, brought savings (1950, 1953, 1954). The amounts spent by the state ranged from 7,0967 thousand rubles.† up to 109619 thousand rubles .

Note the curious fact that from 1951 to 1955 there was a significant planned reduction in the cost of food and supplies for the camp contingent. †In 1950, 68564 thousand rubles were planned to be spent on food and 20,805 thousand rubles on material supplies, then already in 1951 these amounts decreased to 12501 thousand rubles and 3083 thousand rubles, respectively, and by 1955 they decreased to 5,400 thousand rubles for food and 1,900 thousand rubles for material supplies. In fact, the costs of these items of expenditure, starting in 1951, exceeded the plan and led to cost overruns. It is possible that such a decrease in funding is due to the transition of ITL to the payment of wages to prisoners and the deduction of funds from it for food and clothing allowances (Table 2).

Table 1. List of expenses of the South Uzbek ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR for the maintenance of the prisoner contingent (1950-1956) (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Food

68564

41807

12501

16154

10300

14738

7620

9607

Evidence allowance

20805

13555

3083

8021

2992

4287

1830

3016

Household expenses

9286

5780

7710

8211

10000

9712

6220

6186

Purchase and repair of inventory

554

517

546

428

597

481

850

512

Health service

1472

1073

2489

2135

2500

2694

2620

1723

Cultural and educational services

449

418

421

603

600

665

550

438

Staging

1521

1913

1225

1226

1167

1085

560

757

Release costs

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Contingent salary

5150

25739

75281

72520

78895

74084

59104

48728

Contributions to the fund for the relief of the liberated

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Industrial and general education training

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Others

0

0

297

321

20

0

0

0

Total:

107801

90802

103643

109619

107071

107746

79354

70967

1954

1955

1956

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Food

6270

8561

5400

12681

7963

13910

Evidence allowance

1227

7500

1900

6762

3650

10146

Household expenses

7255

8483

7800

9648

10000

10870

Purchase and repair of inventory

35

710

620

653

530

593

Health service

2030

2493

2700

2502

3000

3680

Cultural and educational services

546

595

1000

1051

925

1221

Staging

479

1364

1500

1325

1164

1019

Release costs

0

0

Ч

4874

1940

2807

Contingent salary

57630

52387

53470

52724

54200

52857

Contributions to the fund for the relief of the liberated

0

0

690

606

690

616

Industrial and general education training

0

0

270

91

129

90

Others

0

62

49

41

32

33

Total:

75472

82155

75399

92958

84223

97842

*according to the author's calculations

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 191 (314); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 21. L. 8; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 318 (15); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 36. L. 235; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 5; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 53. L. 66; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 64. L. 62.

Table 2. Amounts of monetary deductions from the imprisoned contingent in the South Uzbek ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR (1950-1956) (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

For food

Ч

14111

44951

38047

39990

33959

Ч*

25942

For the material allowance

Ч

5790

19148

15923

21352

20030

Ч*

12755

Income tax

Ч

Ч

3882

3522

3016

3425

2835

2312

The difference in the cost of food

Ч

Ч

3210

1966

3584

3231

Ч

Ч

Total:

24975

19901

71191

59458

67942

60645

2835

41009

* there is no plan

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 201 (332); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 21. L. 15; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 324 (21); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 36. L. 246; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 14; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 53. L. 73; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 64. L. 60.

In addition to the direct costs of maintaining the contingent, the Yuzhkuzbasslag had a number of additional costs. These are the costs of communication, transport, maintenance of horses and dogs, armament, repair of buildings and structures, office, food, utilities, medical, cultural and educational services for administrative, managerial and maintenance personnel, as well as production, economic, operational and educational expenses. Table 3 shows the amounts of money spent on the maintenance of the camp in the period from 1950 to 1956. As we can see, the amounts spent by the state on the maintenance of the camp in different years ranged from a minimum of 113,381 thousand rubles in 1953 to a maximum of 160,376 thousand rubles in 1952.

Table 3. Funds spent on the maintenance of the South Kuzbass ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR in 1950-1956. (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

146606

125458

144697

151389

156637

160376

115086

113381

1954

1955

1956

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

110061

124283

114164

132314

127475

145391

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 191(313-314); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 21. L. 8; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 318 (15); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 36. L. 235; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 5; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 53. L. 66; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 64. L. 62.

Another issue that I would like to draw attention to is the selfЦsufficiency of the labor of the imprisoned contingent, due to the proceeds from the sale of manufactured products. In Yuzhkuzbasslag, in addition to the roundwood forest, a wide range of industrial products was produced: ordinary lumber grades 1-5, mine floor, shingles, special capping, container board, snow shield, Finnish shavings, cooperage, furniture, agricultural products and more. ITL, according to the concluded contracts, supplied products to enterprises, customers and individuals. Table 4 contains data on the gross amount of the contingent's output in rubles for which ITL produced products in the period from 1950 to 1956. We can see that the target indicator of the Southern Assembly has never been achieved.

Table 4. The gross amount of output by the prisoner contingent in the South Kuzbass ITL in 1950-1956. (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

110632

81461

110505

108886

120648

117053

106315

81152

195 4 g .

1955

1956

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

106281

90532

97546

95861

103650

95209

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 201 (332); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 21. L. 15; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 324 (21); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 36. L. 246; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 14; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 53. L. 73; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 64. L. 60.

But the interest here is not only the size of the sums of money for which commercial products were produced annually by the contingent, but their ratio to the cost of maintaining prisoners and servicing the general needs of the camp. Table 5 shows summary figures for these items of expenditure, which clearly demonstrate that the income received from the work of convicts did not always cover the costs of their maintenance, and the total cost of servicing the Yuzhkuzbasslag significantly exceeded them. According to the author's calculations, in 1950 Ч by 43,997 thousand rubles, in 1951 Ч by 42,503 thousand rubles, in 1952 Ч by 43,323 thousand rubles, in 1953 Ч by 3,2229 thousand rubles, in 1954 Ч by 33751 thousand rubles, in 1955 Ч by 36,453 thousand rubles, in 1956 G. Ч by 50185 thousand rubles .

Table 5. The actual amounts of expenses for the maintenance of the prisoner contingent and the amount of gross output in the South Kuzbass ITL (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

The gross amount of output by the contingent

81461

108886

117053

81152

90532

95861

95209

The amount for the maintenance of the contingent

90802

109619

107746

70967

82155

92958

97842

The amount for the maintenance of ITL

125458

151389

160376

113381

124283

132314

145391

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 191 (313-314), L. 201 (332); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 21. L. 8, L. 15; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 318 (15), L. 324 (21); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 36. L. 235, L. 246; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 5, L. 14; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 53. L. 66, L. 73; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 64. L. 60, L. 62.

Moreover, the ratio between income and expenses of the camp as a whole is of great importance, which takes into account not only the amount of gross output, but also other income in the form of income from counterparty work, retail network and additional expenses, for example, production costs, fines and penalties, etc. Table 6 shows the difference between the income and expenses received by the Yuzhkuzbasslag for 1950-1956. The indicators and figures from which the camp accounting was calculated are not available in the sources. The information shown in table 6 demonstrates the annual predominance of actual expenses over income. Moreover, the planned figures, with the exception of 1951, immediately laid such a negative result. But even the expected planned expenses often in fact had a significant excess. According to the author's calculations, in 1950 the plan was exceeded by 7041 thousand rubles, in 1951 Ч by 37042 thousand rubles, in 1952 Ч by 6925 thousand rubles, in 1953 Ч by 20894 thousand rubles, in 1954 Ч by 1767 thousand rubles, in 1955 Ч by 20241 thousand rubles, in 1956 Ч by 21636 thousand rubles.

Table 6. The ratio of income and expenses in the South Kuzbass ITL in 1950-1956. (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

-*35974

-43015

+**27100

-37042

-32973

-39898

-7592

-28486

195 4 g .

1955

1956

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

Plan

Fact

-806

-2573

-14388

-34629

-31871

-53507

*"-" Ч expenses

**"+" Ч income

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 201 (332); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 21. L. 15; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 324 (21); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 36. L. 243; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 14; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 53. L. 73; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 64. L. 60.

Then the question arises as to how the camp economy functioned, the production activity of which did not even pay for its existence, not to mention the reimbursement of economic costs and profit. According to the data given in table 7, the Yuzhkuzbasslag annually received financial resources from the state budget and from the departmental unit under whose jurisdiction it was located. Despite the State's policy of self-sufficiency of correctional labor camps, the State provided them with regular financial assistance, without which this system could not have continued to exist. Here it is impossible not to agree with the above opinion of N. Y. Belykh, who pointed out the expediency of using forced labor from the point of view of solving current state political and economic problems. Indeed, the South Kuzbass ITL was organized in 1947 to ensure year-round uninterrupted supply of wood to the mines of the south of Kuzbass, which was extremely necessary for the functioning of the coal industry in the region. Due to an acute shortage of workers, the previously existing logging trust could not fulfill this task. The formed camp was able to organize logging activities in the shortest possible time and, by creating a wide transport network, ensure uninterrupted delivery of wood to customers. The rapid solution to the problem of shortage of workers in the logging industry of the Kemerovo region through the use of forced labor favored an increase in the volume of logging, as well as an increase in the number of industrial areas, an expansion of the range of agricultural and industrial goods produced.

Table 7. The amount of financial income for increasing the household fund in terms of working capital in the South Kuzbass ITL in 1950-1956. (thousand rubles)

1950

1951

1952

1953

Financing from the budget to working capital

2500

0

0

600

State donation

5752*

10471*

0

37029

Financing of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Glavka) in working capital to cover planned losses

37942

23100

26091

20152

Total:

46194*

33571*

26091

57781*

1954

1955

1956

Financing from the budget to working capital

13300

15000

0

State donation

30

14316

43607*

Financing of the Ministry of Internal Affairs/Glavlespecprom in working capital to cover planned losses

14706

40509

21106

Total:

28036*

69825*

64713*

*according to the author's calculations

Source: TA GUFSIN CO. F. 14. Op. 1. D. 16. L. 75-76; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 20. L. 22 (16); F. 14. Op. 1. D. 30. L. 142; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 39. L. 50; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 46. L. 50; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 66. L. 16; F. 14. Op. 1. D. 75. L. 14 (19).

Thus, determining the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet economic system is a complex and controversial issue that requires a large-scale and comprehensive analysis at both the regional and national levels. The preserved statistical materials characterizing the forced labor system from the inside are of particular historical value. Using a specific example, some aspects of the economic activity of the camp economy related to expenses and income were considered. The analysis of the documentary material of the South Kuzbass ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR for 1950-1956 clearly showed that the use of forced labor was not cheap, and, moreover, free for the Soviet state. The State spent significant amounts for the operation of camp production and the maintenance of the prisoner contingent. The gross amount of output received by the camp for the products produced did not cover the costs even for the maintenance of the contingent (1952 was the exception), not to mention the total amount of money spent on the maintenance of the ITL. The camp existed at the expense of government grants and subsidies received annually. The income from production activities that Yuzhkuzbasslag received did not cover its expenses, and the losses were planned. All this suggests that the purpose of organizing ITL's production activities was not to make a profit, but to fulfill the set state tasks. In particular, the South Kuzbass ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR was able to solve an important production task Ц to increase the volume of logging and, thereby, contribute to the smooth operation of the coal industry of the Kemerovo region.

References
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When in the era of Perestroika, against the background of democratization and glasnost, there was a serious interest in the humanities and social sciences, one of the most acute topics was the Stalinist period of Soviet history and, especially, those political repressions that struck our country in the 1930s and 1950s. Not only scientific works, but also works of art (books, films) touched on various topics, aptly named by A.I. Solzhenitsyn "The Gulag Archipelago". Despite all the achievements of historical science in recent decades, the problem of forced labor in the Stalinist period still has certain "white spots", especially applicable to economic history. These circumstances determine the relevance of the article submitted for review, the subject of which is the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet camp system in the first half of the 50s of the XX century. The author sets out to define the definition of "the effectiveness of forced labor", to show an economic and political approach to the problem of the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet GULAG system, as well as to analyze certain aspects of the effectiveness of forced labor from an economic point of view using the example of the South Kuzbass ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. The work is based on the principles of analysis and synthesis, reliability, objectivity, the methodological basis of the research is a systematic approach, which is based on the consideration of the object as an integral complex of interrelated elements. The scientific novelty of the article lies in the very formulation of the topic: the author, based on various sources, seeks to characterize the economic aspects of the effectiveness of forced labor in the Soviet camp system in the first half of the 50s of the XX century. based on the materials of the Yuzhnokuzbassky ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. Scientific novelty is also determined by the involvement of archival materials. Considering the bibliographic list of the article, its scale and versatility should be noted as a positive point: in total, the list of references includes up to 30 different sources and studies. The source base of the article is primarily represented by documents from the funds of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Kemerovo region. Among the studies attracted by the author, we note the works of N.Y. Belykh, V.N. Zemskov, G.M. Ivanov, O.V. Khlevnyuk, which focus on various historical and sociological aspects of studying the Gulag system. Note that the bibliography of the article is important both from a scientific and educational point of view: after reading the text of the article, readers can turn to other materials on its topic. In general, in our opinion, the integrated use of various sources and research contributed to the solution of the tasks facing the author. The style of writing the article can be attributed to a scientific one, at the same time accessible to understanding not only to specialists, but also to a wide readership, to anyone who is interested in both the GULAG system in general and its economic indicators in particular. The appeal to the opponents is presented at the level of the collected information received by the author during the work on the topic of the article. The structure of the work is characterized by a certain logic and consistency, it can be distinguished by an introduction, the main part, and conclusion. At the beginning, the author defines the relevance of the topic, shows that "the question of the effectiveness of the GULAG system as a whole not only arouses the interest of researchers, but also retains its debatable character," especially since "each of the historians puts a different meaning into the concept of "the effectiveness of forced labor." The author draws attention to the erroneous opinion "that the use of the labor of a special agent did not require special financial costs from the state, that it was enough to bring prisoners to the place of deployment of the ITL, build barracks, fence with barbed wire, place paramilitary guards, determine the front of work, issue a working tool and monitor the performance of production tasks." Based on the documentary material, it is shown that "the use of forced labor was not cheap, and, moreover, free for the Soviet state": "the gross amount of output received by the camp for the products produced did not cover the costs even for the maintenance of the contingent (1952 was the exception), not to mention the total amount of money, spent on the maintenance of ITL." The main conclusion of the article is that "the purpose of organizing the production activities of the ITL was not to make a profit, but to fulfill the set state tasks": for example, "The South Kuzbass ITL of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR was able to solve an important production task Ц to increase the volume of logging and, thereby, contribute to the smooth operation of the coal industry of the Kemerovo region." The article submitted for review is devoted to an urgent topic, will arouse readers' interest, is provided with 7 tables, and its materials can be used both in lecture courses on the history of Russia and in various special courses. There are separate comments to the article: for example, there are typos, it would be desirable to place links to sources in the bibliography, etc. However, in general, the article can be recommended for publication in the journal Genesis: Historical Research.
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