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The building of prison, built in 1840, is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Oryol.
In 1941, the Orel isolation prison contained some five thousand political prisoners. On 11 September 1941, just weeks before the occupation by German troops, by personal order of Joseph Stalin, 157 political prisoners incarcerated here were executed just outside Oryol, in the Medvedev Forest massacre. During the occupation by the Nazi Germany (since October 1941 to June 1943) here was established a concentration camp.
After the Second World War, the Soviet authorities used it as a concentration camp for prisoners of war, among them being Dietrich von Saucken. Prisoners of war (from Germany, Hungary, Romania) were exterminated by starvation, shooting, exposure, and poisoning. A former prisoner, Latkovska-Wojtuskiewicz, described the scene at Easter in 1951 as “a veritable hell: the room was full of people, half-naked women languished and we, the new arrivals, wallowed on filthy straw, from which rose a stinking dust which choked one’s breath. We were so hoarse we could neither breathe nor speak.”
- Helena Latkovska Wojtuskiewicz, I Lived Through Hell on Earth: Sixteen Years in Siberia (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, 1998), p. 123.
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