Naftaly Frenkel

One Soviet convict impressed his own jailors so much that he ended up completely transforming the Soviet Union’s gulag system. But how much of what we know about the life of Naftaly Frenkel is real, and how much is a right-wing attempt to link the Communist party to a conspiracy theory about greedy Jews?

Content note: Discussion of mistreatment of prisoners and antisemitism.

Featured image: Frenkel during his time as the general director of construction of the White Sea–Baltic Canal. (Image source)

OGPU chiefs overseeing construction of the White Sea–Baltic Canal. Frenkel is on the far right. (Image source)

The Solovki prison camp. (Image source)

Images of prisoners at the Solovki prison camp from a 1928 Soviet documentary. I don’t speak Russian, but based on the rosy images of prisoners playing sports, I think may be a somewhat skewed view of actual life for prisoners. (Image source)

A rock from the Solovetsky Islands installed in Moscow as a monument to victims of political oppression under the Soviet system. (Image source)