Home | Sources Directory | News Releases | Calendar | Articles | RSS Sources Select News RSS Feed | Contact |  

Gulag

Soviet Union

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Soviet Union



Other countries â Atlas
 USSR Portal
Meeting in a prison cell, Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya.

The Gulag or GULag (Russian: ГУЛаг, About this sound listen ) was the government agency that administered the main[1] Soviet penal labour camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, with large numbers convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of extrajudicial punishment, the Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.

GULag is the acronym for Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies (Russian: Г»авное ñ¿ñав»ение иñ¿ñавиñе»ñно-ñññдовññ »агеñей и ко»оний; Glavnoye upravlyeniye ispravityel'no-trudovih lagyeryey i koloniy) of the NKVD. It was officially created on April 25, 1930 and dissolved on January 13, 1960.[2] Eventually, by metonymy, the usage of "the Gulag" began generally denoting the entire penal labour system in the USSR, then any such penal system.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature, introduced the term to the Western world with the 1973 publication of his The Gulag Archipelago. The book likened the scattered camps to "a chain of islands" and described the Gulag as a system where people were worked to death.[3] Some scholars[quantify] concur with this view,[4][5] whereas others[quantify] argue that the Gulag was neither as large nor as deadly as it is often presented,[6] and it did not have death camps[7], although during some periods of its history, mortality was high in the labor camps.[3]

On March 1940, there were 53 separate camps and 423 labour colonies in the USSR.[6] Today's major industrial cities of the Russian Arctic, such as Norilsk, Vorkuta, and Magadan, were originally camps built by prisoners and run by ex-prisoners.[8]

Contents

[edit] Brief history

More than 14 million people passed through the Gulag from 1929 to 1953, with a further 6 to 7 million being deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR.[9] According to a 1993 study of incomplete archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the GULag from 1934 to 1953.[6] More complete data puts the death toll for this same time period at 1,258,537, with an estimated 1.6 million casualties from 1929 to 1953.[10] These estimates exclude those who died shortly after their release but whose death resulted from the harsh treatment in the camps[11]; such deaths happened frequently.[12] The total population of the camps varied from 510,307 (in 1934) to 1,727,970 (in 1953).[6]

Most Gulag inmates were not political prisoners, although the political prisoner population was always significant.[13] People could be imprisoned in a Gulag camp for crimes such as petty theft, unexcused absences from work, and anti-government jokes.[14] About half of the political prisoners were sent to Gulag prison camps without trial; official data suggest that there were more than 2.6 million imprisonment sentences in cases investigated by the secret police, 1921-1953.[15] The Gulag was radically reduced in size following Stalinâs death in 1953.

In 1960 the Soviet-wide MVD (oversight organization for the Gulag) was shut down in favor of individual republic MVD (Ministry of Interior). The nationwide centralized command detention facilities (Gulag) temporarily ceased to function.[16] Political prisoners continued to be held in the Soviet Union right up to the Gorbachev era.[17]

[edit] Modern usage and other terminology

Entering Gulag (a leaf from Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya's notebook)

Although Gulag was originally the name of a government agency, the acronym acquired the qualities of a common noun, denoting: the Soviet system of prison-based, unfree labor â including specific labor, punishment, criminal, political, and transit camps for men, women, and children.

Even more broadly, "Gulag" has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedures that prisoners once called the "meat-grinder": the arrests, the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the forced labor, the destruction of families, the years spent in exile, the early and unnecessary deaths.[18]

Other authors, mostly in the West, use gulag as denoting all the prisons and internment camps in Soviet history (1917â1991) with the plural gulags. The term's contemporary usage is notably unrelated to the USSR, such as in the expression "North Korea's Gulag".[19]

The word Gulag was not often used in Russian â either officially or colloquially; the predominant terms were the camps (»агеññ, lagerya) and the zone (зона, zona), usually singular â for the labor camp system and for the individual camps. The official term, "corrective labor camp", was suggested for official politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union use in the session of July 27, 1929.

[edit] History

[edit] Background

On the eve of the 1917 revolution, 28,600 convicts were serving sentences of hard labor.[20] After the Russian Revolution of 1917 the Russian penal system was taken over by the Bolsheviks. From 1918, camp-type detention facilities were set up, as a reformed analogy of the earlier system of penal labor (katorgas), operated in Siberia in Imperial Russia. The two main types were "Vechecka Special-purpose Camps" (оñобñе »агеññ ВЧš, osobiye lagerya VChK) and forced labor camps (»агеññ ¿ñинñдиñе»ñнññ ñабоñ, lagerya prinuditel'nikh rabot). They were installed for various categories of people deemed dangerous for the state: for common criminals, for prisoners of the Russian Civil War, for officials accused of corruption, sabotage and embezzlement, various political enemies and dissidents, as well as former aristocrats, businessmen and large land owners. These camps, however, were not on the same scale as those in the Stalin era. In 1928 there were 30,000 prisoners in camps, and the authorities were opposed to compelling them to work. In 1927 the official in charge of prison administration wrote that: "The exploitation of prison labour, the system of squeezing âgolden sweatâ from them, the organization of production in places of confinement, which while profitable from a commercial point of view is fundamentally lacking in corrective significance â these are entirely inadmissible in Soviet places of confinement.â[21]

The legal base and the guidance for the creation of the system of "corrective labor camps" (Russian: иñ¿ñавиñе»ñно-ñññдовñе »агеññ, Ispravitel'no-trudovye lagerya), the backbone of what is commonly referred to as the "Gulag", was a secret decree of Sovnarkom of July 11, 1929, about the use of penal labor that duplicated the corresponding appendix to the minutes of Politburo meeting of June 27, 1929.

[edit] Creation of "GULag" and its expansion under Stalin

As an all-Union institution and a main administration with the OGPU (the Soviet secret police), the GULag was officially established on April 25, 1930 as the "ULAG" by the OGPU order 130/63 in accordance with the Sovnarkom order 22 p. 248 dated April 7, 1930, and was renamed into GULag in November.[2]

Prisoner labour at the construction of the White Sea â Baltic Canal, 1931â33

In the early 1930s a drastic tightening of Soviet penal policy caused a significant growth of the prison camp population. During the period of the Great Purge (1937â38) mass arrests caused another increase in inmate numbers. During these years hundreds of thousands of individuals were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms on the grounds of one of the multiple passages of the notorious Article 58 of the Criminal Codes of the Union republics, which defined punishment for various forms of "counterrevolutionary activities." Under NKVD Order â„ 00447 tens of thousands of GULag inmates who were accused of "continuing anti-Soviet activity in imprisonment" were executed in 1937-38.

The hypothesis that economic considerations were responsible for mass arrests during the period of Stalinism has been refuted on the grounds of former Soviet archives that have become accessible since the 1990s, although some archival sources also tend to support an economic hypothesis.[22][23] In any case the development of the camp system followed economic lines. The growth of the camp system coincided with the peak of the Soviet industrialization campaign. Most of the camps established to accommodate the masses of incoming prisoners were assigned distinct economic tasks. These included the exploitation of natural resources and the colonization of remote areas as well as the realization of enormous infrastructural facilities and industrial construction projects.

In 1931â32 the Gulag had approximately 200,000 prisoners in the camps; in 1935 â approximately 800,000 in camps and 300,000 in colonies (annual averages), and in 1939 â about 1.3 millions in camps and 350,000 in colonies.[24]

[edit] During World War II

After the German invasion of Poland that marked the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviet Union invaded and annexed eastern parts of the Second Polish Republic. In 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bessarabia (now the Republic of Moldova) and Bukovina. According to some estimates, hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens[25][26] and inhabitants of the other annexed lands, regardless of their ethnic origin, were arrested and sent to the GULag camps. However, according to the official data, the total number of sentences for political and antistate (espionage, terrorism) crimes in USSR in 1939-41 was 211,106.[15]

Approximately 300,000 Polish prisoners of war were captured by the USSR during and after the 'Polish Defensive War'.[27] Almost all of the captured officers and a large number of ordinary soldiers were then murdered (see Katyn massacre) or sent to GULag[28] Of the 10,000-12,000 Poles sent to Kolyma in 1940-1941, most POWs, only 583 men survived, released in 1942 to join the Polish Armed Forces in the East.[29] Out of Anders' 80,000 evacuees from Soviet Union gathered in Great Britain only 310 volunteered to return to Soviet-controlled Poland in 1947.[30]

During the war, Gulag populations declined sharply due to a steep rise in mortality in 1942â43. In the winter of 1941 a quarter of the Gulag's population died of starvation.[31] 516,841 prisoners died in prison camps in 1941-43.[32][33]

In 1943, the term katorga works (каñоñжнñе ñабоññ) was reintroduced. They were initially intended for Nazi collaborators, but then other categories of political prisoners (for example, members of deported peoples who fled from exile) were also sentenced to "katorga works". Prisoners sentenced to "katorga works" were sent to Gulag prison camps with the most harsh regime and many of them perished.[33]

[edit] After World War II

After World War II the number of inmates in prison camps and colonies, again, rose sharply, reaching approximately 2.5 million people by the early 1950s (about 1.7 million of whom were in camps).

When the war ended in May 1945, as many as two million former Russian citizens were forcefully repatriated into the USSR.[34] On 11 February 1945, at the conclusion of the Yalta Conference, the United States and United Kingdom signed a Repatriation Agreement with the Soviet Union.[35] One interpretation of this agreement resulted in the forcible repatriation of all Soviets. British and U.S. civilian authorities ordered their military forces in Europe to deport to the Soviet Union up to two million former residents of the Soviet Union, including persons who had left the Russian Empire and established different citizenship years before. The forced repatriation operations took place from 1945-1947.[36]

Often, one finds statements that Soviet POWs on their return to the Soviet Union were often treated as traitors (see Order No. 270).[37][38][39] According to some sources, over 1.5 million surviving Red Army soldiers imprisoned by the Germans were sent to the Gulag.[40][41][42] However, that is a confusion with two other types of camps. During and after World War II freed PoWs went to special "filtration" camps. Of these, by 1944, more than 90 per cent were cleared, and about 8 per cent were arrested or condemned to penal battalions. In 1944, they were sent directly to reserve military formations to be cleared by the NKVD. Further, in 1945, about 100 filtration camps were set for repatriated Ostarbeiter, PoWs, and other displaced persons, which processed more than 4,000,000 people. By 1946, 80 per cent civilians and 20 per cent of PoWs were freed, 5 per cent of civilians, and 43 per cent of PoWs re-drafted, 10 per cent of civilians and 22 per cent of PoWs were sent to labor battalions, and 2 per cent of civilians and 15 per cent of the PoWs (226,127 out of 1,539,475 total) transferred to the NKVD, i.e. the Gulag.[43][44]

After Nazi Germany's defeat, ten NKVD-run "special camps" subordinate to the GULag were set up in the Soviet Occupation Zone of post-war Germany. These "special camps" were former Stalags, prisons, or Nazi concentration camps such as Sachsenhausen (special camp number 7) and Buchenwald (special camp number 2). According to German government estimates "65,000 people died in those Soviet-run camps or in transportation to them."[45] According to German researchers Sachsenhausen, where 12,500 Soviet era victims have been uncovered, should be seen as an integral part of the Gulag system. [46]

For years after World War II, a significant minority[vague] of the inmates were Ukrainians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians from lands newly incorporated into the Soviet Union, as well as Finns, Poles, Volga Germans, Romanians and others[citation needed]. POWs, in contrast, were kept in a separate camp system (see POW labor in the Soviet Union), which was managed by GUPVI, a separate main administration with the NKVD/MVD[citation needed].

Yet the major reason for the post-war increase in the number of prisoners was the tightening of legislation on property offences in summer 1947 (at this time there was a famine in some parts of the Soviet Union, claiming about 1 million lives), which resulted in hundreds of thousands of convictions to lengthy prison terms, sometimes on the basis of cases of petty theft or embezzlement. At the beginning of 1953 the total number of prisoners in prison camps was more than 2.4 million of which more than 465 thousand were political prisoners.[33]

The state continued to maintain the extensive camp system for a while after Stalin's death in March 1953, although the period saw the grip of the camp authorities weaken and a number of conflicts and uprisings occur (see Bitch Wars; Kengir uprising; Vorkuta uprising).

The amnesty in March 1953 was limited to non-political prisoners and for political prisoners sentenced to not more than 5 years, therefore mostly those convicted for common crimes were then freed. The release of political prisoners started in 1954 and became widespread, and also coupled with mass rehabilitations, after Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalinism in his Secret Speech at the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956.

By the end of the 1950s, virtually all "corrective labor camps" were dissolved. Colonies, however, continued to exist. Officially the GULag was liquidated by the MVD order No 020 of 25 January 1960.[2]

(See also Foreign forced labor in the Soviet Union)

[edit] Conditions

Gulag prisoner population statistics from 1934 to 1953 [47][48]

Living and working conditions in the camps varied significantly across time and place, depending, among other things, on the impact of broader events (World War II, countrywide famines and shortages, waves of terror, sudden influx or release of large numbers of prisoners). However, to one degree or another, the large majority of prisoners at most times faced meagre food rations, inadequate clothing, overcrowding, poorly insulated housing; poor hygiene, and inadequate health care. The overwhelming majority of prisoners were compelled to perform harsh physical labor.[49] In most periods and economic branches, the degree of mechanization of work processes was significantly lower than in the civilian industry: tools were often primitive and machinery, if existent, short in supply. Officially established work hours were in most periods longer and days off were fewer than for civilian workers. Often official work time regulations were extended by local camp administrators.

Andrei Vyshinsky, procurator of the Soviet Union, wrote a memorandum to NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov in 1938 which stated:

Among the prisoners there are some so ragged and liceridden that they pose a sanitary danger to the rest. These prisoners have deteriorated to the point of losing any resemblance to human beings. Lacking food . . . they collect orts [refuse] and, according to some prisoners, eat rats and dogs. [50]

In general, the central administrative bodies showed a discernible interest in maintaining the labor force of prisoners in a condition allowing the fulfillment of construction and production plans handed down from above. Besides a wide array of punishments for prisoners refusing to work (which, in practice, were sometimes applied to prisoners that were too enfeebled to meet production quota), they instituted a number of positive incentives intended to boost productivity. These included monetary bonuses (since the early 1930s) and wage payments (from 1950 onwards), cuts of sentences on an individual basis, general early release schemes for norm fulfillment and overfulfillment (until 1939, again in selected camps from 1946 onwards), preferential treatment and privileges for the most productive workers (shock workers or Stakhanovites in Soviet parlance).[51]

A distinctive incentive scheme that included both coercive and motivational elements and was applied universally in all camps consisted in standardized "nourishment scales": the size of the inmatesâ ration depended on the percentage of the work quota delivered. Naftaly Frenkel is credited for the introduction of this policy. While it was effective in compelling many prisoners to make serious work efforts, for many a prisoner it had the adverse effect, accelerating the exhaustion and sometimes causing the death of persons unable to fulfill high production quota.

Immediately after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 the conditions in camps worsened drastically: quotas were increased, rations cut, and medical supplies came close to none, all of which led to a sharp increase in mortality. The situation slowly improved in the final period and after the end of the war.

Considering the overall conditions and their influence on inmates, it is important to distinguish three major strata of Gulag inmates:

  • people used to physical labor: "kulaks", osadniks, "ukazniks" (people sentenced for violation of various ukases, such as Law of Spikelets, decree about work discipline, etc.), occasional violators of criminal law
  • dedicated criminals
  • people unused to physical labour sentenced for various political and religious reasons.

Mortality in GULag camps in 1934-40 was 4-6 times higher than average in Russia. The estimated total number of those who died in imprisonment in 1930-1953 is 1.76 million, about half of which occurred between 1941-1943 following the German invasion.[52][53] If prisoner deaths from labor colonies and special settlements are included, the death toll rises to 2,749,163, although the historian who compiled this estimate (J. Otto Pohl) stresses that it is incomplete, and doesn't cover all prisoner categories for every year.[12][54] Other scholars have stressed that internal discrepancies in archival material suggests that the NKVD Gulag data are seriously incomplete.[10]

[edit] Social conditions

The convicts in such camps were actively involved in all kinds of labor with one of them being logging (lesopoval). The working territory of logging presented by itself a square and was surrounded by forest clearing. Thus, all attempts to exit or escape from it were well observed from the four towers set at each of its corners. During the transfer of the territory on the adjacent lot two of the towers were left in place and the other pair was reset at the new place. In such manner a new territory for logging was created. For the reason not to carry the tools to the living quarters and then back the very next day after a 12-hour shift, the guards let workers to leave them at a job site hidden. This was allowed, however, not out of humane intentions; it simply gave the guards an excuse to shoot the worker who was sent the next morning for the tools which were, of course, set beyond the logging territory as attempting to commit an escape.[55]

When investigating the shooting of these "escaping" prisoners, the position of the dead body was usually the only factor considered. That the body would lay with its feet to the camp and its head away from it was considered sufficient evidence of an escape attempt. As a result, it was common practice for the guards to simply adjust the position of the body after killing a "runner" to ensure that the killing would be declared justified. Money rewards were given to any guards who shot an escaping prisoner, and this reward was frequently divided between the guard who sent the "runner" out of the logging territory and the guard who shot him.

[edit] Geography

Part of 'Project 503' to build a railroad from Salekhard to Igarka near Turukhansk on the Yenisey

In the early days of Gulag, the locations for the camps were chosen primarily their isolated locations. Remote monasteries in particular were frequently reused as sites for new camps. The site on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea is one of the earliest and also most noteworthy, taking root soon after the Revolution in 1918.[3] The colloquial name for the islands, "Solovki", entered the vernacular as a synonym for the labor camp in general. It was presented to the world as an example of the new Soviet method for "re-education of class enemies" and reintegrating them through labor into Soviet society. Initially the inmates, largely Russian intelligentsia, enjoyed relative freedom (within the natural confinement of the islands). Local newspapers and magazines were published and even some scientific research was carried out (e.g., a local botanical garden was maintained, but unfortunately later lost completely). Eventually Solovki turned into an ordinary Gulag camp; in fact some historians maintain that it was a pilot camp of this type. See Solovki for more detail. In 1929 Maxim Gorky visited the camp and published an apology for it.

With the new emphasis on Gulag as the means of concentrating cheap labour, new camps were then constructed throughout the Soviet sphere of influence, wherever the economic task at hand dictated their existence (or was designed specifically to avail itself of them, such as the White Sea-Baltic Canal or the Baikal Amur Mainline), including facilities in big cities â parts of the famous Moscow Metro and the Moscow State University new campus were built by forced labor. Many more projects during the rapid industrialization of the 1930s, war-time and post-war periods were fulfilled on the backs of convicts, and the activity of Gulag camps spanned a wide cross-section of Soviet industry.

The Gulag camps in 1954, since Je.Z.Rachinski, A.B.Roguinski, V.A.Krakhotin, A.Ju.Daniel, I.G.Okhotin, E.B.Zhemkova & N.B.Mirza of the "Memorial" foudation, in "Russkie & Kitaie" magazine nr.17, ed. "Karta", Moscow 2007

The majority of Gulag camps were positioned in extremely remote areas of north-eastern Siberia (the best known clusters are Sevvostlag (The North-East Camps) along Kolyma river and Norillag near Norilsk) and in the south-eastern parts of the Soviet Union, mainly in the steppes of Kazakhstan (Luglag, Steplag, Peschanlag). These were vast and sparsely inhabited regions with no roads (in fact, the construction of the roads themselves was assigned to the inmates of specialized railroad camps) or sources of food, but rich in minerals and other natural resources (such as timber). However, camps were generally spread throughout the entire Soviet Union, including the European parts of Russia, Byelorussia, and Ukraine. There were also several camps located outside of the Soviet Union, in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Mongolia, which were under the direct control of the Gulag.

Not all camps were fortified; in fact some in Siberia were marked only by posts. Escape was deterred by the harsh elements, as well as tracking dogs that were assigned to each camp. While during the 1920s and 1930s native tribes often aided escapees, many of the tribes were also victimized by escaped thieves. Tantalized by large rewards as well, they began aiding authorities in the capture of Gulag inmates. Camp guards were also given stern incentive to keep their inmates in line at all costs; if a prisoner escaped under a guard's watch, the guard would often be stripped of his uniform and become a Gulag inmate himself[citation needed]. Further, if an escaping prisoner was shot, guards could be fined amounts that were often equivalent to one or two weeks wages[citation needed].

In some cases, teams of inmates were dropped off in new territory with a limited supply of resources and left to set up a new camp or die. Sometimes it took several waves of colonists before any one group survived to establish the camp[citation needed].

The area along the Indigirka river was known as the Gulag inside the Gulag. In 1926, the Oimiakon (žймñкон) village in this region registered the record low temperature of â71.2 âC (â96 âF).

Under the supervision of Lavrenty Beria who headed both NKVD and the Soviet Atom bomb program until his demise in 1953, thousands of zeks were used to mine uranium ore and prepare test facilities on Novaya Zemlya, Vaygach Island, Semipalatinsk, among other sites.

Throughout the period of Stalinism, at least 476 separate camp administrations existed.[56] Since many of these existed only for short periods of time, the number of camp administrations at any given point was lower. It peaked in the early 1950s, when there were more than a hundred different camp administrations across the Soviet Union. Most camp administrations oversaw not just one, but several single camp units, some as many as dozens or even hundreds.[57] The infamous complexes were those at Kolyma, Norilsk, and Vorkuta, all in arctic or subarctic regions. However, prisoner mortality in Norilsk in most periods was actually lower than across the camp system as a whole.[58]

[edit] Special institutions

  • Special camps or zones for children (Gulag jargon: "ма»о»еñки", maloletki, underaged), for disabled (in Spassk), and for mothers ("мамки", mamki) with babies.
  • Camps for "wives of traitors of Motherland" â there was a special category of repression: "Traitor of Motherland Family Member" (Ч¡ИР, ñ»ен ñемñи изменника Родинñ: ChSIR, Chlyen sem'i izmennika Rodini).
  • Sharashka (ñаñаñка, the goofing-off place) were in fact secret research laboratories, where the arrested and convicted scientists, some of them prominent, were anonymously developing new technologies, and also conducting basic research.

[edit] Influence

[edit] Economic impact of the Gulag

[edit] Culture

The Gulag spanned nearly four decades of Soviet and East European history and affected millions of individuals. Its cultural impact was enormous.

The Gulag has become a major influence on contemporary Russian thinking, and an important part of modern Russian folklore. Many songs by the authors-performers known as the bards, most notably Vladimir Vysotsky and Alexander Galich, neither of whom ever served time in the camps, describe life inside the Gulag and glorified the life of "Zeks". Words and phrases which originated in the labor camps became part of the Russian/Soviet vernacular in the 1960s and 1970s.

The memoirs of Alexander Dolgun, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov and Yevgenia Ginzburg, among others, became a symbol of defiance in Soviet society. These writings, particularly those of Solzhenitsyn, harshly chastised the Soviet people for their tolerance and apathy regarding the Gulag, but at the same time provided a testament to the courage and resolve of those who were imprisoned.

Another cultural phenomenon in the Soviet Union linked with the Gulag was the forced migration of many artists and other people of culture to Siberia. This resulted in a Renaissance of sorts in places like Magadan, where, for example, the quality of theatre production was comparable to Moscow's.

[edit] Literature

Many eyewitness accounts of Gulag prisoners were published before World War II.

  • Anatoli Granovsky wrote "I Was an NKVD Agent" after defecting to Sweden in 1946 and included his experiences seeing gulag prisoners as a young boy, as well as his experiences as a prisoner himself in 1939. Granovsky's father was sent to the gulag in 1937.
  • Julius Margolin's book A Travel to the Land Ze-Ka was finished in 1947, but it was impossible to publish such a book about the Soviet Union at the time, immediately after World War II.
  • Gustaw Herling-GrudziÅ„ski wrote A World Apart, which was translated into English by Andrzej Ciolkosz and published with an introduction by Bertrand Russell in 1951. By describing life in the gulag in a harrowing personal account, it provides an in-depth, original analysis of the nature of the Soviet communist system.
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book The Gulag Archipelago was not the first literary work about labour camps. His previous book on the subject, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", about a typical day of the GULag inmate, was originally published in the most prestigious Soviet monthly, Novy Mir, (New World), in November 1962, but was soon banned and withdrawn from all libraries. It was the first work to demonstrate the Gulag as an instrument of governmental repression against its own citizens on a massive scale. The First Circle, an account of three days in the lives of prisoners in the Marfino sharashka or special prison was submitted for publication to the Soviet authorities shortly after One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich but was rejected and later published abroad in 1968.
  • J¡nos Rózs¡s, Hungarian writer, often referred to as the Hungarian Solzhenitsyn, wrote a lot of books and articles on the issue of GULag.
  • Zoltan Szalkai, Hungarian documentary filmmaker made several films of gulag camps.
  • Karlo Åtajner, an Austrian communist active in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia and manager of Comintern Publishing House in Moscow from 1932â39, was arrested one night and taken from his Moscow home under accusation of anti-revolutionary activities. He spent the following 20 years in camps from Solovki to Norilsk. After USSRâYugoslavian political normalization he was re-tried and quickly found innocent. He left the Soviet Union with his wife, who had been waiting for him for 20 years, in 1956 and spent the rest of his life in Zagreb, Croatia. He wrote an impressive book entitled 7000 days in Siberia.
  • Dancing Under the Red Star by Karl Tobien (ISBN 1-4000-7078-3) tells the story of Margaret Werner, a young athletic girl who moves to Russia right before the start of Stalin's terror. She faces many hardships, as her father is taken away from her and imprisoned. Werner is the only American woman who survived the Gulag to tell about it.
  • "Alexander Dolgun's Story: An American in the Gulag." (ISBN 0-394-49497-0), of a member of the US Embassy, and "I Was a Slave in Russia" (ISBN 0-815-95800-5), an American factory owner's son, were two more American citizens interned who wrote of their ordeal. Both were interned due to their American citizenship for about 8 years circa 1946â55.
  • Eugenia Ginsburg, a journalist, wrote two famous books, Journey Into the Whirlwind and Within the Whirlwind.

[edit] Colonization

Soviet state documents show that among the goals of the gulag was colonisation of sparsely populated remote areas. To this end, the notion of "free settlement" was introduced.

When well-behaved persons had served the majority of their terms, they could be released for "free settlement" (во»ñное ¿оñе»ение, volnoye poseleniye) outside the confinement of the camp. They were known as "free settlers" (во»ñно¿оñе»енññ, volnoposelentsy, not to be confused with the term ñññ»ñно¿оñе»енññ,ssyl'noposelentsy, "exile settlers"). In addition, for persons who served full term, but who were denied the free choice of place of residence, it was recommended to assign them for "free settlement" and give them land in the general vicinity of the place of confinement.

This implement was also inherited from the katorga system.

[edit] Life after term served

Persons who served a term in a camp or in a prison were restricted from taking a wide range of jobs. Concealment of a previous imprisonment was a triable offence. Persons who served terms as "politicals" were nuisances for "First Departments" (Пеñвñй žñде», Pervyj Otdel, outlets of the secret police at all enterprises and institutions), because former "politicals" had to be monitored.

Many people released from camps were restricted from settling in larger cities.

[edit] Lack of prosecution

It has often been asked why there has been nothing along the lines of the Nuremberg Trials for those guilty of atrocities at the Gulag camps. Two recent books, reviewed by Peter Rollberg in the Moscow Times,[59] cast some light on this. Tomasz Kizny's Gulag: Life and Death Inside the Soviet Concentration Camps 1917-1990 details the history of the labour camps over the years while Oleg Khlevniuk's The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror presents records of confidential memos, official resolutions, individual testimonies and tabulated statistics. Rollberg explains how both books contribute to our understanding of why there were no post-Communism trials. "The gulag had already killed tens of thousands of its own most ardent killers. Again and again, yesterday's judges were declared today's criminals, so that Soviet society never had to own up to its millions of state-backed murders."

[edit] Gulag memorials

Memorial in Moscow on Lubyanka Square
Memorial in St. Petersburg

Both Moscow and St. Petersburg have memorials to the victims of the Gulag made of boulders from the Solovki camp â the first prison camp in the Gulag system. Moscow's memorial is on Lubyanka Square, the site of the headquarters of the NKVD. People gather at these memorials every year on the Day of Victims of the Repression (October 30).

[edit] Notable Gulag Prisoners

[edit] See also

Forced labor camps elsewhere

[edit] References

  1. ^ Other Soviet penal labour systems not included in GULag were: (a) camps for the prisoners of war captured by the Soviet Union, administered by GUPVI (b) filtration camps created during World War II for temporary detention of Soviet Ostarbeiters and prisoners of war while they were being screened by the security organs in order to "filter out" the black sheep, (c) "special settlements" for internal exiles including "kulaks" and deported ethnic minorities, such as Volga Germans, Poles, Balts, Caucasians, Crimean Tartars, and others. During certain periods of Soviet history, each of them kept millions of people. Many hundreds of thousand were also sentenced to forced labour without imprisonment at their normal place of work (Applebaum, pages 579-580)
  2. ^ a b c Memorial http://www.memo.ru/history/NKVD/GULAG/r1/r1-4.htm
  3. ^ a b c Applebaum, Anne (2003) Gulag: A History. Doubleday. ISBN 0767900561
  4. ^ Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev. A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia. Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-300-08760-8 p. 15
  5. ^ Steven Rosefielde. Red Holocaust. Routledge, 2009. ISBN 0415777577 pg. 247: "They served as killing fields during much of the Stalin period, and as a vast pool of cheap labor for state projects."
  6. ^ a b c d Getty, Rittersporn, Zemskov. Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence. The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1017-1049
  7. ^ Stephen Wheatcroft. "The Scale and Nature of German and Soviet Repression and Mass Killings, 1930-45", Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 48, No. 8 (Dec., 1996), pp. 1319-1353
  8. ^ "Gulag: a History of the Soviet Camps". Arlindo-correia.com. http://www.arlindo-correia.com/041003.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  9. ^ According to Conquest, between 1939 and 1953, there was, in the work camps, a 10% death rate per year, rising to 20% in 1938. Robert Conquest in "Victims of Stalinism: A Comment." Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 49, No. 7 (Nov., 1997), pp. 1317-1319 states: "We are all inclined to accept the Zemskov totals (even if not as complete) with their 14 million intake to Gulag 'camps' alone, to which must be added 4-5 million going to Gulag 'colonies', to say nothing of the 3.5 million already in, or sent to, 'labour settlements'. However taken, these are surely 'high' figures."
  10. ^ a b Steven Rosefielde. Red Holocaust. Routledge, 2009. ISBN 0415777577 pg. 67 "...more complete archival data increases camp deaths by 19.4 percent to 1,258,537"; pg 77: "The best archivally based estimate of Gulag excess deaths at present is 1.6 million from 1929 to 1953."
  11. ^ Ellman, Michael. Soviet Repression Statistics: Some Comments Europe-Asia Studies. Vol 54, No. 7, 2002, 1151-1172
  12. ^ a b Applebaum, Anne (2003) Gulag: A History. Doubleday. ISBN 0767900561 pg 583: "both archives and memoirs indicate that it was common practice in many camps to release prisoners who were on the point of dying, thereby lowering camp death statistics."
  13. ^ "Repressions". Publicist.n1.by. http://publicist.n1.by/articles/repressions/repressions_gulag2.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  14. ^ "What Were Their Crimes?". Gulaghistory.org. http://gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/stalin/crimes.php. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  15. ^ a b "Repressions". Publicist.n1.by. http://publicist.n1.by/articles/repressions/repressions_organy1.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  16. ^ http://penpolit.ru/author-item+M5cd00dd4488.html
  17. ^ News Release: Forced labor camp artifacts from Soviet era on display at NWTC[dead link]
  18. ^ Anne Applebaum. "GULAG: a history". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071013124127/http://anneapplebaum.com/gulag/intro.html. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  19. ^ Antony Barnett (2004-02-01). "Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag". London: Guardian Unlimited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/korea/article/0,2763,1136483,00.html#article_continue. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  20. ^ "'Gulag': The Other Killing Machine". The New York Times. May 11, 2003.
  21. ^ D.J. Dallin and B.I. Nicolayesky, Forced Labour in Soviet Russia, London 1948, p. 153.
  22. ^ See, e.g. Michael Jakobson, Origins of the GULag: The Soviet Prison Camp System 1917â34, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1993, p. 88.
  23. ^ See, e.g. Galina M. Ivanova, Labor Camp Socialism: The Gulag in the Totalitarian System, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2000, Chapter 2.
  24. ^ Cf, e.g., Istorija stalinskogo Gulaga: konec 1920-kh - pervaia polovina 1950-kh godov; sobranie dokumentov v 7 tomakh, ed. by V. P. Kozlov et al., Moskva: ROSSPEN 2004, vol. 4: Naselenie GULaga
  25. ^ Franciszek Proch, Poland's Way of the Cross, New York 1987 P.146
  26. ^ Project In Posterum
  27. ^ Encyklopedia PWN 'KAMPANIA WRZEÅšNIOWA 1939', last retrieved on 10 December 2005, Polish language
  28. ^ (English) Marek Jan Chodakiewicz (2004). Between Nazis and Soviets: Occupation Politics in Poland, 1939-1947. Lexington Books. ISBN 0739104845. 
  29. ^ "Robert Conquest 1978. Kolyma: The Arctic Death Camps. OUP". London: My.telegraph.co.uk. http://my.telegraph.co.uk/beanbean/blog/2008/05/02/a_polish_life_5_starobielsk_and_the_transsiberian_railway. Retrieved 2009-01-06. [dead link]
  30. ^ "Michael Hope - "Polish deportees in the Soviet Union"". Wajszczuk.v.pl. http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl/english/drzewo/czytelnia/michael_hope.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  31. ^ GULAG: a History, Anne Applebaum
  32. ^ Zemskov, Gulag, Sociologiäeskije issledovanija, 1991, No. 6, pp. 14-15.
  33. ^ a b c "Repressions". Publicist.n1.by. http://publicist.n1.by/articles/repressions/repressions_gulag1.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  34. ^ Mark Elliott. "The United States and Forced Repatriation of Soviet Citizens, 1944-47," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 2 (June, 1973), pp. 253-275.
  35. ^ "Repatriation - The Dark Side of World War II". Fff.org. http://www.fff.org/freedom/0895a.asp. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  36. ^ "''Forced Repatriation to the Soviet Union: The Secret Betrayal''". Hillsdale.edu. 1939-09-01. http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=1988&month=12. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  37. ^ "''The warlords: Joseph Stalin''". Channel4.com. 1953-03-06. http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/t-z/warlords1stalin.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  38. ^ "Remembrance (Zeithain Memorial Grove)". Stsg.de. 1941-08-16. http://www.stsg.de/main/zeithain/geschichte/gedenken/index_en.php. Retrieved 2009-01-06. [dead link]
  39. ^ "Soviet Prisoners of War: Forgotten Nazi Victims of World War II". Historynet.com. 1941-09-08. http://www.historynet.com/wars_conflicts/world_war_2/3037296.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  40. ^ "Sorting Pieces of the Russian Past". Hoover.org. 2002-10-23. http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3063246.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  41. ^ "Patriots ignore greatest brutality". Smh.com.au. 2007-08-13. http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/patriots-ignore-greatest-brutality/2007/08/12/1186857342382.html?page=2. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  42. ^ "Joseph Stalin killer file". Moreorless.au.com. 2001-05-23. http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/stalin.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  43. ^ (âВоенно-иññоñиñеñкий жññна»â (âMilitary-Historical Magazineâ), 1997, â„5. page 32)
  44. ^ Земñкое В.Н. š во¿ñоññ о ñе¿аññиаñии ñовеññкиñ гñаждан. 1944-1951 годñ // Иññоñиñ ¡¡¡Р. 1990. â„ 4 (Zemskov V.N. On repatriation of Soviet citizens. Istoriya SSSR., 1990, No.4
  45. ^ Germans Find Mass Graves at an Ex-Soviet Camp New York Times, September 24, 1992
  46. ^ Ex-Death Camp Tells Story Of Nazi and Soviet Horrors New York Times, December 17, 2001
  47. ^ http://www.etext.org/Politics/Staljin/Staljin/articles/AHR/AHR.html
  48. ^ http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2007/0313/tema06.php
  49. ^ The Gulag Collection: Paintings of Nikolai Getman[dead link]
  50. ^ Jonathan Brent. Inside the Stalin Archives: Discovering the New Russia. Atlas & Co., 2008 (ISBN 0977743330) pg. 12 Introduction online (PDF file)
  51. ^ Leonid Borodkin and Simon Ertz 'Forced Labour and the Need for Motivation: Wages and Bonuses in the Stalinist Camp System', Comparative Economic Studies, June 2005, Vol.47, Iss. 2, pp. 418â436.
  52. ^ "Demographic Losses Due to Repressions", by Anatoly Vishnevsky, Director of the Center for Human Demography and Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences, (Russian)
  53. ^ "The History of the GULAG", by Oleg V.Khlevniuk
  54. ^ Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System, p. 131.
  55. ^ 1937 - 2007: 70 years of terror (Russian)
  56. ^ "¡иññема иñ¿ñавиñе»ñно-ñññдовññ »агеñей в ¡¡¡Р". Memo.ru. http://www.memo.ru/history/nkvd/gulag/gulag3.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  57. ^ Anne Applebaum â Inside the Gulag[dead link]
  58. ^ "Coercion versus Motivation: Forced Labor in Norilsk" (PDF). http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817939423_75.pdf. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  59. ^ Prosecuting the Gulag, Moscow Times, January 21, 2005, retrieved 18 January 2007.

[edit] Books

[edit] Memoirs

[edit] Fiction

[edit] External links



Related Articles & Resources

Sources Subject Index - Experts, Sources, Spokespersons

Sources Select Resources Articles







This article is based on one or more articles in Wikipedia, with modifications and additional content by SOURCES editors. This article is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The remainder of the content of this website, except where otherwise indicated, is copyright SOURCES and may not be reproduced without written permission. (For information call 416-964-7799 or use the Contact form.)

SOURCES.COM is an online portal and directory for journalists, news media, researchers and anyone seeking experts, spokespersons, and reliable information resources. Use SOURCES.COM to find experts, media contacts, news releases, background information, scientists, officials, speakers, newsmakers, spokespeople, talk show guests, story ideas, research studies, databases, universities, associations and NGOs, businesses, government spokespeople. Indexing and search applications by Ulli Diemer and Chris DeFreitas.

For information about being included in SOURCES as a expert or spokesperson see the FAQ or use the online membership form. Check here for information about becoming an affiliate. For partnerships, content and applications, and domain name opportunities contact us.


Sources home page