SHORT STORIES: barentsburg - traces of the soviet union
The Svalbard islands, ranging from 74° and 81° North are the last strips of land habitable by man. Officially discovered by the dutch explorer Barents in 1596, the "Svalbard Treaty" of 1920 finally recognises Norwegian sovreignity over the archipelago located halfway between North Cape and the North Pole. Leaving the territory open to all signing countries to engage commercial activity on the islands, apart from the Norwegians, only the Soviet Union takes advantage of the treaty sending 2300 workers to the main island Spitsbergen, creating three different coalmining communities.
Spitsbergen was soon known as the northern front of the Cold War. The Russian settlement of Grumantbyen was abandoned in 1961, while Pyramiden was left empty in a hurry on january 10th 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union. The third miningtown Barentsburg is the last remaining Russian settlement on the island where about 500 persons still continue the rugged life in a doleful and surreal town where time and history seem frozen in an indefinite moment of the past.