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1 Apr, 2012 06:06

Gulag revisited: Barbed memories

­In one of the darkest episodes in the history of the Soviet Union, thousands of people were sent to labour camps. Now one of them is a museum dedicated to making sure that this painful chapter of twentieth century is never forgotten.

Nestled in the forested region of the Ural mountains, the Perm-36 memorial center was officially opened in 1996. The center was founded on the site of a former prison camp which was set up on Joseph Stalin's orders in the 1940s.

Until late 1987, when the Perm prison camp was closed, it was notorious for the torture and imprisonment of Soviet dissidents, human rights activists, as well as politicians, writers and those who were considered enemies of the communist state.  

Historians wanted to understand the causes of those repressions,  to name the victims and pass on knowledge of what happened here to future generations. It is a unique place, as no other Gulag camps have remained completely intact in today's Russia.

The museum at Perm-36 allows visitors to come face to face with the realities of repression. With much of the original structure still standing, it gives historians a rare glimpse into a harsh life not found anywhere else.

RT's Peter Oliver traveled to "Perm 36" and spoke with a labor camp survivor to learn what life was really like behind the wire. Watch his report in the video above.