On the plaque with the name of this camp in the alley dedicated to the victims of repression in the village of Akmol, which is now near the capital, the words "traitors of the Motherland" were placed in quotation marks.
The prisoners simply called the camp "ALZHIR." In this camp, the wives and relatives of Stalin's repressed individuals were arrested. Not all eight thousand women renounced their husbands and relatives, who were "enemies of the people." The GULAG camp was overcrowded throughout the Soviet Union. "ALZHIR" was one of such hells on earth.
Later, the camp turned into a sanitary-sector enterprise with agricultural production, a workshop, and a sewing factory. After its closure in 1953, the village of prisoners was renamed Robynovka, and later renamed Akmol.
The prisoners themselves settled this place. The imprisoned women built the barracks, dining rooms, livestock farms, grain storage facilities, and workshops themselves. The vast majority of them were intellectuals, not accustomed to manual labor.


The captured women were forced to collect reeds, dig ditches, and plant gardens.
Kurt was also later called Malinovka because of the abundance of raspberries. This garden, which was once cultivated by the imprisoned women, putting their hearts and souls into it, no longer could flourish.
Former prisoner of this camp, Tamta Daukenova, says that after winter, nothing grew, a hare began gnawing the bark of 600 apple tree saplings. The exhausted women had to "share" bread with the rabbit in their hands to save the seedlings.
Because the camp authorities threatened: "one sapling – we will shoot at the edges." Therefore, the women in captivity threw a slice of bread at the base of each sapling. The hare, after eating the bread, did not touch the sapling. The apple orchard thrived in the spring. Now, there stands a memorial museum complex called "ALZHIR."


Gertrude Platais is one of the former prisoners of the Akmolinsk women's camp "traitors of the Motherland." She told the staff of the "ALZHIR" museum about how she first saw how the local Kazakhs treated the imprisoned women during her visit to Kazakhstan from Germany in 1990.

Once, when the imprisoned women were walking back from Zhalanashkol with reeds, they met old men and children on the way. As the adults said, the children began throwing stones at the women. The guards "noticed that you are hated not only in Moscow but also in the village!" and laughed.
Photocopy of the picture of Gertrude Platais, a prisoner of ALZHIR The photo is placed in the museum of memory of the victims of political repressions and totalitarianism "ALZHIR".

"This is the upbringing they gave their children," insisted the prisoners. A woman stumbled and fell onto one of these stones. When she fell, she smelled the scent of stone milk and cheese in front of her. One part tasted bitter, the other tasted sweet. So, all the stones were gathered and brought to the barracks. The prisoners in the barrack explained that this was not a stone, but dried kurt.
This story by Gertrude Platais is based on the poem "Kurt – A Precious Stone." The author of the poem is history teacher Raisa Golubeva, living in the village of Novoisimka in the Akmolinsk region.

The head of the excursion department, Raisa Jaxybayeva, explains that the locals, who had experienced severe hunger in the 1930s, turned to the prisoners.

There are no exact data on how many people survived in the museum. But according to Raisa Jaxybayeva, most of the imprisoned women perished when the camp was established in 1938-1939.

In the first year, weak women passed away. The prisoners were mostly intellectuals. These women, who had never held anything in their hands but a pencil and paper, were digging the earth, collecting reeds, and driving a tractor, - says Raisa Jaxybayeva.

The poem "Kurt – A Precious Stone" was written based on the memories of Gertrude Platais by history teacher Raisa Golubeva.

Oh, Lord, it's not a stone.
It smells like milk.
And a flame of hope trembled in my soul,
A lump rose in my throat.

So this is what the old folks came up with!
This is why women risked their children!
They protected us from disease,
They saved us from disbelief.

They understood that we were not enemies,
But simply unfortunate women.
And they helped us with whatever they could,
Astonishing us with their humanity.

I silently crawled on the ice,
Gathering precious stones.
Now I have averted disaster from them,
Saving them from the guards.

And at night in the coldest barrack,
On the ground desecrated by executioners,
I, a German, prayed to the Muslim god,
But asked for nothing for myself.

I asked for health for the elderly,
Happiness for the women-mothers.
I especially prayed for the children,
So they wouldn't see misfortune.

I went through all the circles of hell,
Lost faith and friends,
But one thing I know,
This is the only way to raise children.


Rakhil Plisetskaya, the mother of the famous Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, was also held in custody in the Akmolinsk camp. She was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. Initially, she was imprisoned in Butyrka prison and after being sentenced as the wife of an "enemy of the people," she was exiled to the Akmolinsk camp with her eight-month-old son Azary.

Photocopy of the picture Rahil Plisetskaya (left) with her daughter Maia (right), son Azary (center) and brother Alexander (top). The photo is placed in the museum of memory of the victims of political repressions and totalitarianism "ALZHIR".

Azary is now 73 years old, she lives in Switzerland. We corresponded with him. Last year, he came in person, - says Raisa Jaxybayeva.

Rakhil Plisetskaya did not stay long in the "ALZHIR" camp. Thanks to the search for relatives, she was transferred to a free settlement in Shymkent.

Mikhail Zeltser, the son of Brina Lurie, another prisoner with Rakhil Plisetskaya, details the camp life in his book "Traces of a Terrible Fate," published in 2002 in Almaty by the "Seven Statutes" publishing house:

"Who did not come to this camp – there were artists, scientists, engineers, teachers. Women in hats on their heads first drove horses with barrels of leftovers. Later, this hat stuck to the sun and became primitive prison clothing."

Former "ALZHIR" prisoner from Kharkiv, Maria Danilenko, also writes that "90 percent of the prisoners were highly educated people," as stated in the memoirs of this book.

"Among us were all the professors of Leningrad and the troupe of the Kharkiv Opera Theater. Engineers, technicians, builders, doctors, geologists, teachers – there were over 100 specialties... We shared the hard camp life together. To decorate the dining room interior with painting, the girls found a way to paint women's underwear. Professional artists of the Leningrad Academy of Arts beautifully painted."

In the ALZHIR museum, Maria Danilenko's orange summer dress, hat, and shoes are displayed. Apparently, she came to the camp in such clothes, - said the museum staff.

She said she dived with a group of women into a wagon with wooden beds. On the territory of the "ALZHIR" museum, there is an example of such Stalinist wagon-houses transporting prisoners in winter.


"In the camp, there were women who did not know why they were sitting," writes Mikhail Zeltser in his book "Traces of a Terrible Fate." - One of the neighboring women in the barrack complained to her mother that she was innocent. "The investigator shouted: 'Your husband is a tractor driver,' and he was never a tractor driver but a brigadier." The poor woman had never heard the word "Trotskyist," "Trotskyist" was understood as "tractor driver."

According to Mikhail Zeltser, there was an excellent school in ALZHIR. "We saw the same informal genuine friendship with teachers nowhere else. Several years later, when I returned to Leningrad, I couldn't study long in a regular school."

There, teacher Zinaida Ginzburg taught German language and literature. "One day, I was told to express Zinaida Naumovna Belinskaya's opinion. I don't remember on what issue. The library was located in the village only in one place – VOHR (paramilitary guard-militarized guard). Then I went to the library to the responsible-political leader of VOHR-and asked if there was Belinsky. The political educator replied that "such a person is not in the division," – writes Mikhail Seltzer.


On the territory of the "Akmolinsk women's camp" Motherland traitors" is now the village of Akmol with 4-5-story houses, a store, and a club. The village is surrounded by dense poplars, which were once planted by prisoners.

From the former camp, only barracks made of clay remained; the bathhouse, which now houses the power station, is the only place for inspecting prisoners. Some have turned this place into a residential house.
The son of a repression victim, local resident Alexander Taygarinov, says that the camp was very large. "In childhood, we broke the balloon, and wherever we rode the bike, there was barbed wire on the shore," he said in an interview with Radio Liberty.

"Long barracks lying in two rows collapsed because they were built of raw bricks," he says.

"There were 360 people in the barracks at once. The air was tight. The barrack stank when hungry women collected the core of cabbage from the garbage and drank it in bottles. The guard, who took us, entered inside with disgust and sent one of the old women on duty to count the prisoners. The women said: "protect us like gold, P...- laughs," writes former prisoner Maria Danilenko.

According to Mikhail Zeltser, who lived in this camp with his mother Brina Lurie, the camp was surrounded by high barbed wire, a guard at the corners above a special column, and then a moat and columns, between which a wire was stretched.

"He tied guard dogs to the wire on a long leash. David brings the dogs at night because, when he sees dogs tearing the leash, adults have no urine left, let alone children. In a word, it was a real concentration camp," writes Mikhail Zeltser in his memoirs.

When in 1990, former prisoner of the Akmola camp for the wives of "traitors" of the motherland, Gertrude Platais, came to Kazakhstan, she told the employees of the "ALZHIR" museum for the first time about how she first saw the local Kazakhs and how they treated the imprisoned women.

Once, on a stormy winter morning, when the women prisoners were under heavy guard collecting reeds on the shore of Lake Zhalanash for building barracks, old men and children from the nearby Kazakh village of Zhanashu suddenly jumped out from the reed thickets. At the command of the elders, the children began throwing stones at the exhausted women (to fulfill the norm of 40 sheaves of reeds, they had to work in the cold for 17-20 hours a day). The guards began to laugh loudly, saying, "See, not only in Moscow but even here in the village, even children don't like you."
It was very offensive and painful, especially morally, recalled Gertrude Platais and other former prisoners. This continued for several days. The offended prisoners could only appeal to fate, complaining about the injustice of the Kazakhs, who were brainwashed and embittered by Stalinist propaganda... Until one day, while dodging the flying stones, the exhausted Gertrude stumbled and fell face-first into these stones. As she buried her face in them, she suddenly smelled curd and realized that these very stones smelled of... cheese and milk! She took a piece and put it in her mouth – it seemed very tasty to her. She gathered these pebbles and brought them to the barrack. There were Kazakh women prisoners as well. They said that this was kurt – sun-dried salted curd. It turned out that, risking the lives of their own children, the compassionate Kazakhs, having found no other way, were sharing the last thing they had with the prisoners – kurt, to somehow support the starving poor women, since they themselves had experienced hunger and deprivation in the 1930s. In secret from the guards, they left pieces of boiled meat, ground barley, kurt, and flatbreads under the bushes for the prisoners. The gratitude towards the Kazakh people, the women said, they carried throughout their lives. "All camps are bad, but it was in the Kazakh camps that many survived, primarily thanks to the Kazakhs. They themselves experienced hunger, cold, and deprivation," they admitted.
After the closure of the Akmola camp and the family of "traitors", its former prisoners continued to live in the barracks, and then special resettlers and first-timers settled here. Some prisoners stayed and created a new life here.
Made on