Death Train (1998)

Genres - History  |   Sub-Genres - Social History, World History  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Tom Roberts, an Emmy-winner for Mother Russia's Children, directed this documentary about Josef Stalin's efforts to build an 800-mile railroad in the Arctic Circle during the late 1940s and early 1950s, to provide a defense of the northern borders of the Soviet Union. The huge work force (drawn from the gulag prison system) faced brutal conditions (starvation, freezing cold, dysentery), and many died. After 500 miles of track was in place, the project was abandoned 20 days after Stalin's death in 1953. Archival footage is intercut with survivor interviews. Filmed across Siberia, this is the second in HBO Signature's "Double Take" series, launched with Diary of a Terrorist: Mikdad, and it premiered November 8, 1998 on HBO Signature.

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Keywords

interview, labor-camp, prison, railroad, railroad-tracks, Russia, survivor