Meet the Kengir Gulag Uprising, where inmates assumed control over a camp. Due to the large body of educated inmates the 40 days of freedom saw the creation of plays, an ex-noble organizing a café, priests organizing marriages, engineers creating improvised radios and a hydroelectric powerstation

Kengir uprising

Approximate location of Kengir camp in Kazakhstan

The Kengir uprising was a prisoner rebellion that occurred in Kengir (Steplag), a Soviet labor camp for political prisoners, during May and June of 1954. Its duration and intensity distinguished it from other Gulag rebellions during the same period (see Vorkuta uprising).

After the murder of some of their fellow prisoners by guards, Kengir inmates rebelled and seized the entire camp compound, holding it for weeks and creating a period of freedom for themselves unique in the history of the Gulag. After a rare alliance between the criminals and political prisoners, the prisoners succeeded in forcing the guards and camp administration to flee the camp and effectively quarantine it from … Continue Reading (20 minute read)

11 thoughts on “Meet the Kengir Gulag Uprising, where inmates assumed control over a camp. Due to the large body of educated inmates the 40 days of freedom saw the creation of plays, an ex-noble organizing a café, priests organizing marriages, engineers creating improvised radios and a hydroelectric powerstation”

  1. 422Fountain

    Step 1: SECURE THE KEYS

  2. we_are_all_bananas_2

    >After a rare alliance between the criminals and political prisoners, the prisoners succeeded in forcing the guards and camp administration to flee the camp and effectively quarantine it from the outside. The prisoners thereafter built intricate defenses to prevent the incursion of the authorities into their newly won territory. This situation lasted for an unprecedented length of time and resulted in novel activity, including the formation of a provisional government by the prisoners, prisoner marriages, the performance of religious ceremonies, and the waging of a propaganda campaign against the erstwhile authorities.

    Pretty awesome!

    >After 40 days of freedom within the camp walls, intermittent negotiation, and mutual preparation for violent conflict, the rebellion was suppressed by Soviet armed forces with tanks and guns on the morning of 26 June. According to former prisoners, five hundred to seven hundred people were killed or wounded by the suppression, although official figures claim only a few dozen had been killed.

    Propaganda from the political prisoners: 700 people killed!

    Propaganda from the state: few dozen people killed!

  3. Mizuxe621

    > The prisoners, realizing the precariousness of their situation, endeavored to publicize their rebellion and demands to the village adjacent to the camp, hoping to incite its citizens to assist them. To do this, they first employed specially rigged, hot air balloons with slogans written on them (these were shot down by the guards) and, later, kites manufactured by the Chechens, who turned out to be kite specialists. The kites were successful for a time. During favorable winds, they dropped packets of leaflets to the settlements below, but the authorities soon sent up kites to tangle the prisoners’ kite’s lines. Eventually the prisoners fixed leaflets to carrier pigeons, releasing dozens into the air.

    What the fuck this is amazing lmao

  4. StrayMoggie

    If the guards left, why did they inside and not just leave?

  5. Fine_Accident

    > After the murder of some of their fellow prisoners by guards, Kengir inmates rebelled and seized the entire camp compound, holding it for weeks and creating a period of freedom for themselves unique in the history of the Gulag. After a rare alliance between the criminals and political prisoners, the prisoners succeeded in forcing the guards and camp administration to flee the camp and effectively quarantine it from the outside. The prisoners thereafter built intricate defenses to prevent the incursion of the authorities into their newly won territory. This situation lasted for an unprecedented length of time and resulted in novel activity, including the formation of a provisional government by the prisoners, prisoner marriages, the performance of religious ceremonies, and the waging of a propaganda campaign against the erstwhile authorities.

    That’s insane!

  6. KarateFace777

    There needs to be a movie or a mini series about this. Wow.

  7. SpiralMask

    and then they were sadly all brutally put down

  8. joaoyyz

    Is there a movie about this? if not there needs to be. What a story.

  9. okafeng_okafor

    I highly recommend reading The Gulag Archipelago by Alexandr Soljenitsyn

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