On 2 August 1933, the 'White Sea-Baltic Canal in the name of Stalin' was officially opened. In Russian the canal is called the Belomorsko-baltiysky kanal, or shortened to 'Belomorkanal'. It is a vital link between St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and the White Sea, constructed between 1930 and 1933, mostly by penal labor.
Possibly 150.000 convicts worked on the project, digging 37 km. of the canal through hard rock and building 19 large wooden locks, with little mechanical equipment. They were 'enemies of the people' - farmers, political prisoners and criminals - and lived in guarded camps. The hard labor was officially meant to 'reforge' them, to make new men of them who would be good Soviet citizens. In reality, their life was cheap. Tens of thousands of convicts died under the harsh conditions.
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