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Experiences of a Dutch Journalist




Discovering the exile past, October 2001

In October, I went to the former capital Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinski in west Sakhalin. This city was built by and inhabited only with murderers, criminals and their guards at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.


Picture of picture of one of the camps where the exiled had to work.


Graves of exiled prisoners. After they served their time, they had to live on Sakhalin for at least six years before they were allowed to leave to the mainland. Many of them never made it off the island.


Tunnel between two bays built by prisoners.


Apart from former capital and place of exile, Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinski is also an ordinary city these days with a square very similar to any other built in Soviet times.


The famous Russian writer Chekhov lived for 3 months and two days in Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinski in 1890 to learn more about this place of exile. He wrote the book 'The island Sakhalin' in 1893. There is an entire museum devoted to the writer in the town.


The lighthouse (not in use anymore). Damaged by earthquakes.