August 2 in Russian history

The opening of the Soviet Union’s deadliest construction project and the conference that ended World War II are recalled in tonight’s Historama.

Waterway paved with deaths

On this day 78 years ago, the Soviet Union celebrated the opening of the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal (the Belomorkanal).

The new waterway gave easier access to the Russian north and allowed for intensive use of its rich natural resources.

The Belomorkanal was built at record speed by labor camp convicts. It took them less than two years to build the 227 kilometers of waterway through the rocky region.

Speed, however, came at a heavy cost. Belmorkanal was one of the deadliest construction projects in Soviet history. Thousands of people perished from the back-breaking labor.

­Fate of postwar world decided

A historic conference held in the German city of Potsdam by members of the anti-Nazi coalition ended on this day in 1945.

The leaders of the Soviet Union, UK and US decided on the fate of the postwar world.

Germany lost a quarter of its territory, with the Koenigsberg region becoming part of the Soviet Union. Now known as Kaliningrad, it is the western-most enclave of Russia.

During the conference, Stalin also repeated his promise to join the allies and declare war on Japan.

Read more on this day in Russian history

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