Soviet system of forced labor camps was first established in 1919, but it
was not until the early 1930s that the camp population reached significant
Russia's best and brightest were sent to the camps because of Stalin's paranoia and brutality. They worked under the worst conditions, and had to be coerced and brutalized to perform any productive work.
Many died in the camps, or were sentenced to exile in remote logging camps after their release. Stalin's "enemies of the people" included just about anyone having intelligence, initiative, and the capability for independent thought.
It is estimated that around 50 million perished in Soviet gulags between 1930 and 1950.