“Even walls have ears”- goes the Russian saying. Perm-36, also known as ITK-6, was one of the former camp for political prisoners in Soviet Union (today’s Russia). A truly sad and heartbreaking story of walls that survived, unlikely many, who did not.
Each country is often haunted by its past. Perm-36, situated 100km from the city Perm in Russia, has its own haunted history.
The rests of the Soviet Gulag, are placed near the village Kutchino, which can be easily reached by local bus. Taken from the main bus station at Perm city, towards Chusovoy or Lysva village, will take around 1h 40min and cost 300RUB. Simply say to the bus driver that you need to jump of at Kучино village (Kutchino), if he won’t understand, show the village on the map.
The best time to go is in the morning (before 10 am), as the last bus to Perm leaves at 6 pm. I had kinda “bad luck” as it was raining the whole morning and when I finally got to the bus station at 12:00, the bus leaving at 12:50 was full. I took the next one leaving at 14:10. Risky! But I had to go, because I was leaving the next day.
Once you jump off the bus right next to the road to Kutchino, 2,5km walk is waiting for you. Lucky me! I got the ride from a lady living in the village, who stopped right after I jumped off the bus. She asked in Russian, where I was heading. Hearing “Perm-36” with bizarre accent, she nodded and invited me to her car. Few minutes later I was there, back in time…to hear the haunted history of this place.
Sergei, greeted me kindly while I entered the Perm-36. In kinda fun way he put the warm hat and jacket, inmates used in gulag, on me. “Its cold inside the buildings”- he said. He was right. With 16 degrees outside, the interior of the buildings was freezing the blood in the veins. Not only because of the cold, but as well because of the story of the place. Sometimes, while he was telling the story of the Gulag, I’ve noticed a tear in his eyes, that broke my heart in million pieces forever.
Before even first prisoners were brought to Gulag, soldiers had an order to cut off all the trees surrounding the place. That way, prisoners wouldn’t know in which part of the country they were. Inmates were not allowed to go outside, so they couldn’t hear the nearest Chusovaya river sound. What the guards couldn’t prevent, was the birds flying around the Gulag. One of the inmates- a biologist sentenced for 25 years, recognized the birds species by its sound, and he knew they were in Urals. The place, that survived a huge repression, and where an ordinary people’s lives had been taken away, and silenced forever.