Latrine (Terraska labour camp)

Latrines were among the most basic equipment of each camp and were always one of the first facilities to be built. There were mostly two communal latrines in each camp, standing opposite each other near the barbed-wire fence.

There were latrines similar to this one in most of the camps we documented. The prisoners used them as part of the usual camp regime. It was only when they were serving a sentence in solitary confinement that they had to use special buckets, or parasha, for their bodily functions. One interesting feature of this latrine is that there is a wire-covered bulb placed in one ceiling board – this proves that this facility had electric lighting.

Watch Imrich Gablech’s whole story

The camp toilet appears, for example, in the memoirs of the Czechoslovak Gulag inmate Jan Bačkovský, who served time in Pechora with a brigade of Polish prisoners: “The two of us, myself and Czerwinski, ran to the latrine. The professor was lying in faeces on his left side and didn’t even try to get up. I lifted him up; his 40 kilos did not cause me any problems. Czerwinski held the professor while I undressed him and washed him. The skeletons with scythes depicted by our holy church looked like strapping athletes in comparison with the professor. (…) The professor looked at Czerwinski for a moment and said: ‘Why didn’t you let me die in this shit? Neither you nor I should worry about me anymore.’”

The electric lighting of the huts was supplied from the camp’s own generators, which the prisoners built themselves for the purpose of constructing the railways.


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