Chelyabinsk ITL (Gulag)

This write-up is my effort to document the circumstances and images surrounding the Gulag complex to which Frieda Senger was assigned and interned after World War 2 by the Soviets For more information see:



Chelyabinsk was the location of a Soviet Gulag. Chelyabinsk ITL (Work Improvement Camp) was in existence from November 1941 until October 1951. At its height, it held 15,400 persons who were employed building a smelter used for Industrial, Highway, Civil and Residential construction, as well as in open-cast mining.

Additionally there was a Prisoner of War Camp #68 for German POWs in Chelyabinsk. Severely ill POWs were treated in POW Hospital 5882. A German POW mass grave was found about 12 km (8 miles) East of the city.


Tscheljabinsk war Standort eines sowjetischen Gulag. Das Tscheljabinsker ITL (Besserungsarbeitslager) bestand von November 1941 bis Oktober 1951. Es waren bis zu 15.400 Personen inhaftiert, die beim Bau eines Hüttenwerks, im Industrie-, Straßen-, Zivil- und Wohnungsbau sowie bei der Förderung von Bodenschätzen eingesetzt wurden.

Außerdem befand sich das Kriegsgefangenenlager 68 für deutsche Kriegsgefangene des Zweiten Weltkriegs in Tscheljabinsk. Schwer Erkrankte wurden im Kriegsgefangenenhospital 5882 versorgt. Etwa 12 km östlich der Stadt gab es ein Kriegsgefangenen-Massengrab.

To quote: The Deportation and Destruction of the German Minority in the USSR by J. Otto Pohl (c) 2001.

“Physical conditions in the labor army proved to be deadly. The Germans in the labor army worked long hours with meager rations under dangerous conditions. Frequently they worked 14 hours a day felling trees, mining coal, extracting oil, building industrial complexes, and other physically demanding tasks. Often this work took place in frigid temperatures. In Chelyabinsk the temperature frequently dropped to -40 C and lower.103 Lacking proper winter clothing, many Germans in the labor army froze to death. Insufficient food also burdened the labor army. Gulag set the rations for the labor army according to a differentiated system. This system linked the food rations of members of the labor army to their fulfillment of fixed work quotas. […].Often Germans in the labor army received little else other than bread. […] the labor army contingent in Tagillage received only 3% of their normal rations of vegetables and potatoes. This lack of vitamin rich foods resulted in a mass outbreak of pellagra and scurvy. Exhaustion, hunger, and malnutrition constantly plagued the Germans in the labor army.”

“The material conditions of the labor army often lacked even the most basic standards of hygiene. Mobilized Germans in the Bakalstroi camp and the Chkalov oil fields lived in earth huts. Others lived in unheated and unsanitary barracks. This was the most common form of housing for the labor army.”

“Often these barracks lacked ventilation, boiling water, and wooden floors. Overcrowding and the lack of clean linen and other basic sanitary measures led to repeated outbreaks of typhus, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. The lack of proper medical care made these diseases particularly deadly.”

“The poor sanitary conditions, lack of food, and exhausting physical labor the Stalin regime intentionally imposed upon the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans in the labor army killed a large portion of them. Labor army battalions in some camps had mortality rates exceeding 50% a year.”