In one of the most barbaric acts of his bloody dictatorship, Russian President Joseph Stalin once sent 6,700 prisoners to a remote Siberian island without food or shelter forcing them to resort to cannibalism.

Famous for his gulags, Stalin had decided to put his captive population to work building a labour camp on the isolated Nazinsky Island and had instructed them to begin work entirely by themselves.

But the experiment in social engineering and self-sufficiency went tragically wrong.

Once the prisoners arrived on the island on a cold May day in 1933, they were abandoned without shelter and given only bags of flour as food.

If they attempted to leave the island, they would be shot by the armed guards who patrolled the island and the surrounding icy river.

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Stalin ordered the horror of Nazinsky Island

They were completely trapped and within days of their arrival events quickly spiralled out of control and Stalin’s sick version of the Hunger Games began.

Many of the prisoners were already incredibly malnourished from their journey to the island and some had even died along the way.

The island itself was low lying and completely unsuitable for construction or farming being essentially a swamp.

The small island became hell on earth

Within days law and order amongst the inmates broke down and wild gangs began to roam the island.

The guards turned a blind eye to these murderous marauders and instead punished the weaker members of the island, often executing them without reason.

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If you weren’t killed by someone else, the elements or starvation would get you.

Eventually, conditions became so poor on the island that the unfortunate souls upon it resorted to cannibalism.

Rather than killing for sport or gain, people were now setting upon one another solely to eat their corpses.

When the guards heard what was happening they were horrified, but rather than provide the prisoners with food they instead executed those suspected of cannibalism.

Participants in the 1989 expedition to Nazinsky by the human rights group Memorial

Less than a month after the experiment began, the Soviets were forced to accept that their morbid experiment was a failure.

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In just a few short weeks, around 2000 people had died due to starvation, disease and murder and a further 2000 had vanished without a trace.

As with most acts of depravity under Stalin’s rule, the events of Nazinsky Island were kept secret until 1988 when human rights group Memorial spoke to an eyewitness who revealed the horror of the experiment.

Nazinsky Island
The wooden cross erected on Nazinsky Island

She said: “The things we saw! People were dying everywhere; they were killing each other.

“People caught a girl, tied her to a poplar tree, cut off her breasts, her muscles, everything they could eat, everything, everything … They were hungry, they had to eat.”

Today ‘Death Island’ is uninhabited save for a small cross that acknowledges the horror of what occurred there.

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