Disinfection and drying room (Barabanikha labour camp)

Besides a steam bath with a laundry, a disinfection room and drying room also played a role in preventive hygiene. These were mostly located in one building.

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The Polish-American priest Walter Ciszek, who was staying at the time in the Norilsk camps near the Dead Road, described the function of disinfection and the drying room in his memoirs: “Each part of the hut had an allocated service. Every morning, this meant boots were brought from the drying room in the middle of the camp, where they were hung out every evening. The boots were numbered with chalk and then hung up to dry on metal rings.”

“Every ten days there was a bath, during which they cut our hair with a machine and, shaved our bodies (to prevent lice), and gave us a piece of soap. Before we got into the bath, we undressed and handed our clothes in for disinfection. One the way back, we then stood in a line for clean laundry. We had to wear what they gave us, regardless of whether it was too big or small.”

Unfortunately, the drying rooms and disinfection huts that we came across on the expedition in September 2013 were either burned out or in ruins. This panoramic tour shows a hut in the Barabanikha labour camp, but we are not completely sure if it was actually a disinfection and drying facility. Sadly, we are also unable to precisely recreate the manner in which they disinfected the prison clothes.

During the expedition in 2009, we also discovered a prison camp beside the railway. The huts there frequently had their purpose written on coloured signs. This also enabled us to easily identify a disinfection and drying facility, as illustrated by the following photographs:


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