So, what tools did the NKVD inquisitors have?

In Kazan Special Psychiatric Prison Hospital, they spared the lives of prisoners but destroyed their minds. In addition to physical torture, they also used personality-ruining chemicals. Below is the list of the Hospital’s arsenal of means of intimidation:

1. Beating. Prison guards could beat to death those imprisoned for criminal offences but not political prisoners. The latter had to be broken down but delivered alive.

2. Tying tight. Tying to numbness in limbs, to pressure sores. In special cases, a prisoner was tied so that ropes went deep in the body until it bled. In this condition, he could be kept for a week.

3. Sulfozinum, or ‘sulphur’. It is a drug that was prohibited everywhere except the Soviet Union. One injection, or two in different points at once, or even four (in a hand, a leg and under shoulder blades). Extreme pain for 2-3 days, an arm or leg just becoming numb, fever up to 40 degrees, and thirst without any water given. It was used as ‘treatment’ for alcoholism or drug addiction.

4. Dental drill. A prisoner was tied to a chair and drilled into a healthy tooth until the drill bit entered the jaw. Then the tooth cavity was filled so that to leave no traces. Doctors also liked removing non-devitalised nerves. All this was done by a professional dentist in a dental room. ‘Sanitation of the oral cavity’. Special psychiatric hospitals were not supervised by any authority. No complaints about them could be sent, and even if political prisoners managed to pass them secretly, they still would be accepted neither by public prosecution offices nor by the Supreme Court. Those deprived of liberty in a special psychiatric hospital were even more disenfranchised than convicts.

5. Subcutaneous introduction of gaseous oxygen. It was injected under the skin on a leg or under a shoulder blade using a thick needle. It gave a feeling of the skin being stripped because gas separated it from muscle tissue. A huge tumour appeared and it took two to three days for the pain to weaken. Then, after the tumour reabsorbed, they started it all over again. In this way, the doctors ‘treated depression’. Oxygen was injected for two to three minutes because both sides could not stand it any longer: the executioners deafened by the victim’s screams, while the latter fainted. Political prisoners were given injections of oxygen for 10-15 minutes.

6. Thorazine in very painful injections. The drug provoked cirrhosis and amnesia. It caused an irresistible desire to sleep but the victims were kept awake.

7. Haldol (and its weaker analogues triftazine and stelazine). It was used to cause wild inner tension and depression. A person who received haldol could not sleep although constantly wanted to. He could not sit or lie down or walk, could not read or write because spasms of the hands changed his handwriting beyond recognition and prevented from drawing a letter. And he even could not think. After a week of shocking doses, a neuroleptic shock occurred. After a few months, dementation was inevitable.

8. Insulin shock with loss of consciousness. It destroys whole sections of the brain, impairs intelligence, and leads to loss of memory.

9. Electroshock. It has a dual purpose: first, it is an electric torture; second, it causes irreparable brain damage.

About 10,000 people were patients in Kazan Special Psychiatric Hospital from 1935 to 1991.