Gulag

Gulag

Overview
The Gulag was the government agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 that administered the main Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 forced labor camp
Labor camp
A labor camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are forced to engage in penal labor. Labor camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons...

 systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convict
Convict
A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison", sometimes referred to in slang as simply a "con". Convicts are often called prisoners or inmates. Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences often are not termed...

s, from petty criminals to political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troika
NKVD troika
NKVD troika or Troika, in Soviet Union history, were commissions of three persons who convicted people without trial. These commissions were employed as an instrument of extrajudicial punishment introduced to circumvent the legal system with a means for quick execution or imprisonment...

s and other instruments of extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

, and the Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.

GULag is the acronym for Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies of the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

.
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Encyclopedia
The Gulag was the government agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 that administered the main Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 forced labor camp
Labor camp
A labor camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are forced to engage in penal labor. Labor camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons...

 systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convict
Convict
A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison", sometimes referred to in slang as simply a "con". Convicts are often called prisoners or inmates. Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences often are not termed...

s, from petty criminals to political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troika
NKVD troika
NKVD troika or Troika, in Soviet Union history, were commissions of three persons who convicted people without trial. These commissions were employed as an instrument of extrajudicial punishment introduced to circumvent the legal system with a means for quick execution or imprisonment...

s and other instruments of extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

, and the Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.

GULag is the acronym for Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies of the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

. It was officially created on April 25, 1930 and dissolved on January 13, 1960. Eventually, by metonymy
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

, the usage of "the Gulag" began generally denoting the entire penal labor system in the USSR.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

, introduced the term to the Western world with the 1973 publication of his The Gulag Archipelago
The Gulag Archipelago
The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a narrative relying on eyewitness testimony and primary research material, as well as the author's own experiences as a prisoner in a gulag labor camp...

. The book likened the scattered camps to "a chain of islands" and described the Gulag as a system where people were worked to death. Some scholars concur with this view, whereas others argue that the Gulag was neither as large nor as deadly as it is often presented, and it did not have death camps, although during some periods of its history, mortality was high in the labor camps.

On March 1940, there were 53 separate camps and 423 labor colonies in the USSR. Today's major industrial cities of the Russian Arctic, such as Norilsk
Norilsk
Norilsk is an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located between the Yenisei River and the Taymyr Peninsula. Population: It was granted city status in 1953. It is the northernmost city in Siberia and the world's second largest city north of the Arctic Circle...

, Vorkuta
Vorkuta
Vorkuta is a coal-mining town in the Komi Republic, Russia, situated just north of the Arctic Circle in the Pechora coal basin at the Usa River. Population: - Labor camp origins :...

, and Magadan
Magadan
Magadan is a port town on the Sea of Okhotsk and gateway to the Kolyma region. It is the administrative center of Magadan Oblast , in the Russian Far East. Founded in 1929 on the site of an earlier settlement from the 1920s, it was granted the status of town in 1939...

, were originally camps built by prisoners and run by ex-prisoners.

Brief history



14 million people passed through the Gulag "labour camps" from 1929 to 1953, with a further 6 to 7 million being deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR, plus 4-5 millions passed through "labour colonies", which meant to confine the prisoners serving short (less than 3 years) terms. The total population of the camps varied from 510,307 (in 1934) to 1,727,970 (in 1953). According to a 1993 study of archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag from 1934 to 1953. These estimates exclude those who died shortly after their release but whose death resulted from the harsh treatment in the camps; such deaths happened frequently. The studies that take into account these deaths put the death toll for this same time period at 1,258,537, with an estimated 1.6 million casualties from 1929 to 1953.

Most Gulag inmates were not political prisoners, although the political prisoner population was always significant. People could be imprisoned in a Gulag camp for crimes such as petty theft and joking about government officials. About half of the political prisoners were sent to Gulag prison camps without trial
By administrative means
By administrative means was an expression in use in the Soviet Union applied to the cases when some actions that normally required a court decision were left to the decision of executive bodies .With respect to the imprisonment and deportation of individuals this meant extrajudicial punishment.See...

; official data suggest that there were more than 2.6 million imprisonment sentences in cases investigated by the secret police, 1921-1953. The Gulag was radically reduced in size following Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

’s 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. Political prisoners also continued to be held in the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 era.

Modern usage and other terminology


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
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

-based, unfree labor
— 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.

Other authors, mostly in the West, use gulag as denoting all the prisons and internment camps in Soviet history (1917–1991) with the plural gulags. The term's contemporary usage is notably unrelated to the USSR, such as in the expression “North Korea's Gulag” for camps operational still today.

The word Gulag was not often used in Russian — either officially or colloquially; the predominant terms were the camps and the zone , usually singular — for the labor camp system and for the individual camps. The official term, "corrective labor camp", was suggested for official politburo
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 use in the session of July 27, 1929.

Background


From 1920s to 1950s, the leaders of the Communist Party and Soviet state considered repressiveness not only as a way to provide the conditions for normal functioning of the state system, but also to preserve and strengthen positions of their social base, presented by working class, in society. From social class perspectives, the Gulag is an offspring of the working class which became a leading class of society after the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

. The Gulag was invented to isolate class-alien, socially dangerous, disruptive, suspicious, and other disloyal elements (real and imaginary ones) whose deeds and thoughts were not contributing to the strengthening of the “dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

.” After having appeared as a tool and place for isolating counterrevolutionary and criminal elements to protect and strengthen the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the Gulag, because of its principle of “correction by forced labor”, quickly became, in fact, an independent branch of the national economy secured on a cheap labor force presented by prisoners. Without this “industry”, it has actually become impossible to solve many tasks of industrialization in eastern and northern regions. Hence it is followed by one more important reason for the constancy of the repressive policy, namely, the state's interest in unremitting rates of receiving the cheap labor force that was forcibly used mainly in the extreme conditions of the east and north. Thus, the Gulag possessed two functions, the first one was punitive, and the second one was economic.

According to Anne Applebaum
Anne Applebaum
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post...

, "In 1906, only about 6000 katorga
Katorga
Katorga was a system of penal servitude of the prison farm type in Tsarist Russia...

 convicts were serving sentences; in 1916, on the eve of the Revolution, there were only 28,600." After the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 the Russian penal system was taken over by the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s. From 1918, camp-type detention facilities were set up, as a reformed analogy of the earlier system of penal labor (katorga
Katorga
Katorga was a system of penal servitude of the prison farm type in Tsarist Russia...

s
), operated in Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 in Imperial Russia. The two main types were "Vechecka Special-purpose Camps" and forced labor camps . They were installed for various categories of people deemed dangerous for the state: for common criminals, for prisoners of the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, 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 labor, the system of squeezing ‘golden sweat’ 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 – these are entirely inadmissible in Soviet places of confinement.”

The legal base and the guidance for the creation of the system of "corrective labor camps" , 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
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 meeting of June 27, 1929.

Creation of "Gulag" and its expansion under Stalin


As an all-Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 institution and a main administration with the OGPU (the Soviet secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

), 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.

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
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 (1937–38) 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 № 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. 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 1931–32 archives indicate the Gulag had approximately 200,000 prisoners in the camps; in 1935 — approximately 800,000 in camps and 300,000 in colonies (annual averages).

Between 1934 and 1941, the number of prisoners with higher education increased more than eight times, and the number of prisoners with high education increased five times. It resulted in their increased share in the overall composition of the camp prisoners. Among the camp prisoners, the number and share of the intelligentsia was growing at the quickest pace. Distrust, hostility, and even hatred for the intelligentsia is a common characteristic of the communist leaders. After having laid hold of unlimited power, they, as practice has shown, were simply unable to resist the temptation to mock the intelligentsia. The Stalin version of mocking the intelligentsia was the referral of its part to the Gulag on the basis of far-fetched or fabricated charges. For unrepressed part of the intelligentsia, the mockery was prepared in the form of “ideological dressing down”, leading and guiding instructions “from above” on how to think, do, worship the “leaders”, etc.

During World War II



On the eve of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Soviet archives indicate a combined camp and colony population upwards of 1.6 million in 1939, according to V. P. Kozlov. Anne Applebaum
Anne Applebaum
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post...

 and Steven Rosefielde
Steven Rosefielde
Steven Rosefielde is a Professor of Comparative Economic Systems at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.. He is also a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.-Selected works:...

 estimate that 1.2 to 1.5 million people were in Gulag system's prison camps and colonies when the war started.

After the German invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 that marked the start of WWII, the Soviet Union invaded and annexed eastern parts
Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)
The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland was a Soviet military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939, during the early stages of World War II. Sixteen days after Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union did so from the east...

 of the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

. In 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 (now the Republic of Moldova) and Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

. According to some estimates, hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens 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.

Approximately 300,000 Polish prisoners of war
Polish prisoners of war in the Soviet Union (after 1939)
As a result of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, hundreds of thousands of Polish soldiers became prisoners of war in the Soviet Union. Many of them were executed; over 20,000 Polish military personnel and civilians perished in the Katyn massacre....

 were captured by the USSR during and after the 'Polish Defensive War'
Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)
The 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland was a Soviet military operation that started without a formal declaration of war on 17 September 1939, during the early stages of World War II. Sixteen days after Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union did so from the east...

. Almost all of the captured officers and a large number of ordinary soldiers were then murdered (see Katyn massacre
Katyn massacre
The Katyn massacre, also known as the Katyn Forest massacre , was a mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs , the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of...

) or sent to GULag Of the 10,000-12,000 Poles sent to Kolyma
Kolyma
The Kolyma region is located in the far north-eastern area of Russia in what is commonly known as Siberia but is actually part of the Russian Far East. It is bounded by the East Siberian Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk to the south...

 in
1940-1941, most POWs, only 583 men survived, released in 1942 to join the Polish Armed Forces in the East
Polish Armed Forces in the East
Polish Armed Forces in the East refers to military units composed of Poles created in the Soviet Union at the time when the territory of Poland was occupied by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the Second World War....

. Out of Anders' 80,000 evacuees from Soviet Union gathered in Great Britain only 310 volunteered to return to Soviet-controlled Poland in 1947.

During the war, Gulag populations declined sharply due to a steep rise in mortality in 1942–43. In the winter of 1941 a quarter of the Gulag's population died of starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

. 516,841 prisoners died in prison camps in 1941-43.

In 1943, the term katorga
Katorga
Katorga was a system of penal servitude of the prison farm type in Tsarist Russia...

 works
(каторжные работы) was reintroduced. They were initially intended for Nazi collaborators
Collaboration during World War II
Within nations occupied by the Axis Powers, some citizens, driven by nationalism, ethnic hatred, anti-communism, anti-Semitism or opportunism, knowingly engaged in collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II...

, but then other categories of political prisoners (for example, members of deported peoples
Population transfer in the Soviet Union
Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite...

 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.

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.
Operation Keelhaul
Operation Keelhaul was carried out in Northern Italy by British and American forces to repatriate Soviet Armed Forces POWs of the Nazis to the Soviet Union between August 14, 1946 and May 9, 1947...

 On 11 February 1945, at the conclusion of the Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 signed a Repatriation Agreement with the Soviet Union. One interpretation of this agreement resulted in the forcible repatriation of all Soviets. British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and U.S. civilian authorities ordered their military forces in Europe to deport to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 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.

Often, one finds statements that Soviet POW
Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs
The Nazi crimes against Soviet Prisoners of War relate to the deliberately genocidal policies taken towards the captured soldiers of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany...

s on their return to the Soviet Union were often treated as traitors (see Order No. 270). According to some sources, over 1.5 million surviving Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 soldiers imprisoned by the Germans were sent to the Gulag. 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 percent were cleared, and about 8 percent 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, the major part of the population of these camps were cleared by NKVD and either sent home or conscripted (see table for details). 226,127 out of 1,539,475 POWs were transferred to the NKVD, i.e. the Gulag.
Results of the checks and the filtration of the repatriants (by 1 March 1946)
Category Total % Civilian % POWs %
Released and sent home (this figure included those who died in custody) 2,427,906 57.81 2,146,126 80.68 281,780 18.31
Conscripted 801,152 19.08 141,962 5.34 659,190 42.82
Sent to labour battalions of the Ministry of Defence 608,095 14.48 263,647 9.91 344,448 22.37
Sent to NKVD as spetskontingent(i.e. sent to GULAG) 272,867 6.50 46,740 1.76 226,127 14.69
Were waiting for transportation and worked for Soviet military units abroad 89,468 2.13 61,538 2.31 27,930 1,81
Totally: 4,199,488 2,660,013 1,539,475


After Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

's defeat, ten NKVD-run "special camps"
NKVD special camps
NKVD special camps were NKVD-run late and post-World War II internment camps in the Soviet-occupied parts of Germany and areas east of the Oder-Neisse line. The short-lived camps east of the line were subsequently transferred to the Soviet occupation zone, where they were set up by the Soviet...

 subordinate to the Gulag were set up in the Soviet Occupation Zone of post-war Germany
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

. These "special camps" were former Stalag
Stalag
In Germany, stalag was a term used for prisoner-of-war camps. Stalag is a contraction of "Stammlager", itself short for Kriegsgefangenen-Mannschafts-Stammlager.- Legal definitions :...

s, prisons, or Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

 such as Sachsenhausen (special camp number 7)
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

 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." 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.

For years after World War II, a significant minority of the inmates were Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

, Belarusians
Belarusians
Belarusians ; are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Old Belarusian...

, Lithuanians
Lithuanians
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

, Latvians
Latvians
Latvians or Letts are the indigenous Baltic people of Latvia.-History:Latvians occasionally refer to themselves by the ancient name of Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia...

 and Estonians
Estonians
Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. They speak a Finnic language known as Estonian...

 from lands newly incorporated into the Soviet Union, as well as Finns, Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

, Volga Germans, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

ns and others. POWs, in contrast, were kept in a separate camp system (see POW labor in the Soviet Union
POW labor in the Soviet Union
Systematic POW labor in the Soviet Union is associated primarily with the outcomes of the World War II and covers the period of 1939-1956.This form of forced labor was handled by the Chief Directorate for Prisoners of War and Internees Affairs of the NKVD, established in 1939 Systematic POW labor...

), which was managed by GUPVI, a separate main administration with the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

/MVD.

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.

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
Bitch Wars
The Bitch Wars or Suka Wars occurred within the Soviet labor camp system between 1945 and around the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.The Russian word suka "сука" has a stronger negative connotation than its English equivalent...

; Kengir uprising
Kengir uprising
The Kengir uprising was a prisoner uprising that took place in the Soviet prison labor camp Kengir in May and June 1954. Its duration and intensity distinguished it from other Gulag uprisings in the same period ....

; Vorkuta uprising
Vorkuta Uprising
The Vorkuta Uprising was a major uprising of the concentration camp inmates at the Vorkuta Gulag in Vorkuta, Russia in July–August 1953, shortly after the arrest of Lavrentiy Beria. The uprising was violently stopped by the camp administration after two weeks of bloodless standoff.Vorkuta Rechlag ...

).

The amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 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 rehabilitation
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

s, after Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

's denunciation of Stalinism
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 in his Secret Speech at the 20th Congress of the CPSU
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 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.

(See also Foreign forced labor in the Soviet Union
Foreign forced labor in the Soviet Union
Foreign forced labor was used by the Soviet Union during and in the aftermath of the World War II, which continued up to 1950s.There have been two categories of foreigners amassed for forced labor: prisoners of war and civilians...

)

Conditions


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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 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. Most prisoners were compelled to perform harsh physical labor. 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
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 chief Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov or Ezhov was a senior figure in the NKVD under Joseph Stalin during the period of the Great Purge. His reign is sometimes known as the "Yezhovshchina" , "the Yezhov era", a term that began to be used during the de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s...

 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.


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
Production quota
A production quota is a goal for the production of a good. It is typically set by a government or an organization, and can be applied to an individual worker, firm, industry or country. Quotas can be set high to encourage production, or can be used to limit production to control the supply of goods...

), 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 individual sentences, 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
Udarnik
Udarnik is a Russian, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian term for a superproductive worker in the Soviet Union and ex-Yugoslavia. The term is derived from the expression "udarny trud" for "superproductive, enthusiastic labour", which is often translated as strike labour , and udarnik as strike worker,...

 or Stakhanovite
Stakhanovite
In Soviet history and iconography, a Stakhanovite follows the example of Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov, employing hard work or Taylorist efficiencies to over-achieve on the job.- History :...

s in Soviet parlance).

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 inmates’ ration depended on the percentage of the work quota delivered. Naftaly Frenkel
Naftaly Frenkel
Naftaly Aronovich Frenkel ; was a Soviet citizen and Chekist . Frenkel is best known for his role in the organisation of work in the Gulag, starting from the forced labor camp of the Solovetsky Islands, which is recognised as one of the earliest sites of the Gulag. -Origins:Naftaly Frenkel's...

 is credited for the introduction of this policy. While it was effective in compelling many prisoners to work harder, 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
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 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:
  • "kulak
    Kulak
    Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

    s", osadnik
    Osadnik
    Osadniks was the Polish loanword used in Soviet Union for veterans of the Polish Army that were given land in the Kresy territory ceded to Poland by Polish-Soviet Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 .-Colonization process:Shortly before the battle of Warsaw on August 7, 1920, the Premier of Poland,...

    s, "ukazniks" (people sentenced for violation of various ukase
    Ukase
    A ukase , in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader that had the force of law...

    s, such as Law of Spikelets
    Law of Spikelets
    Law of Spikelets or Law of Three Spikelets was a common name of the Soviet law to protect state property of kolkhozes. The common name came into use because the law was used to prosecute not only property thieves but also anyone who collected as little as a handful of grain or "spikelets" left...

    , decree about work discipline, etc.), occasional violators of criminal law
    Criminal law
    Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

  • dedicated criminals: "thieves in law"
  • people 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. 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. Other scholars have stressed that internal discrepancies in archival material suggests that the NKVD Gulag data are seriously incomplete. Adam Jones wrote:

It was these Siberian camps, devoted either to gold-mining or timber harvesting, that inflicted the greatest toll in the Gulag system. Such camps “can only be described as extermination centres,” according to Leo Kuper. The camp network that came to symbolize the horrors of the Gulag was centered on the Kolyma gold-fields, where “outside work for prisoners was compulsory until the temperature reached −50C and the death rate among miners in the goldfields was estimated at about 30 per cent per annum.

Social conditions


The convicts in such camps were actively involved in all kinds of labor with one of them being logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 (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.

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. There is some evidence that money rewards were given to any guards who shot an escaping prisoner, but the official rules (as seen below) state guards were fined for escaping prisoners.

Locals who captured a runaway were given rewards. Its also said that Gulags in colder areas, were less keen on "escaping" prisoners as they would die anyhow for the cold and severe winters. Prisoners who did escape without getting shot were often found dead miles away from the camp.

Geography


In the early days of Gulag, the locations for the camps were chosen primarily for the isolated conditions involved. Remote monasteries in particular were frequently reused as sites for new camps. The site on the Solovetsky Islands
Solovetsky Islands
The Solovetsky Islands , or Solovki , are an archipelago located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, Russia. The islands are served by the Solovki Airport. Area: ....

 in the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

 is one of the earliest and also most noteworthy, taking root soon after the Revolution in 1918. The colloquial name for the islands, "Solovki
Solovki
The Solovki prison camp was located on the Solovetsky Islands, in the White Sea). It was the "mother of the GULAG" according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn...

", entered the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 as a synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

 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
Intelligentsia
The intelligentsia is a social class of people engaged in complex, mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them...

, 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
Solovki
The Solovki prison camp was located on the Solovetsky Islands, in the White Sea). It was the "mother of the GULAG" according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn...

 for more detail. In 1929 Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist.-Early years:...

 visited the camp and published an apology for it.

With the new emphasis on Gulag as the means of concentrating cheap labor, 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
White Sea-Baltic Canal
The White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal , often abbreviated to White Sea Canal is a ship canal in Russia opened on 2 August 1933. It connects the White Sea with Lake Onega, which is further connected to the Baltic Sea. Until 1961, its original name was the Stalin White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal...

 or the Baikal Amur Mainline), including facilities in big cities — parts of the famous Moscow Metro
Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is a rapid transit system serving Moscow and the neighbouring town of Krasnogorsk. Opened in 1935 with one line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As of 2011, the Moscow Metro has 182 stations and its route length is . The system is...

 and the Moscow State University
Moscow State University
Lomonosov Moscow State University , previously known as Lomonosov University or MSU , is the largest university in Russia. Founded in 1755, it also claims to be one of the oldest university in Russia and to have the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy...

 new campus were built by forced labor. Many more projects during the rapid industrialization of the 1930s, war-time
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 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 majority of Gulag camps were positioned in extremely remote areas of north-eastern Siberia (the best known clusters are Sevvostlag
Sevvostlag
Sevvostlag was a system of forced labor camps set up to satisfy the workforce requirements of the Dalstroy construction trust in the Kolyma region in April 1932. Organizationally being part of Dalstroy and under the management of the Labor and Defence Council of Sovnarkom, these camps were...

(The North-East Camps) along Kolyma
Kolyma
The Kolyma region is located in the far north-eastern area of Russia in what is commonly known as Siberia but is actually part of the Russian Far East. It is bounded by the East Siberian Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk to the south...

 river and Norillag
Norillag
Norillag, Norilsk Corrective Labor Camp was a gulag labor camp set by Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia and headquartered there. It existed from June 25, 1935 to August 22, 1956....

near Norilsk
Norilsk
Norilsk is an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located between the Yenisei River and the Taymyr Peninsula. Population: It was granted city status in 1953. It is the northernmost city in Siberia and the world's second largest city north of the Arctic Circle...

) and in the south-eastern parts of the Soviet Union, mainly in the steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

s of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 (Luglag, Steplag, Peschanlag). A very precise map was made by the Memorial Foundation. 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
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, including the European parts of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. There were also several camps located outside of the Soviet Union, in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, and Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, 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. Further, if an escaping prisoner was shot, guards could be fined amounts that were often equivalent to one or two weeks wages.

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.

The area along the Indigirka river
Indigirka River
The Indigirka River is a river in the Sakha Republic in Russia between the Yana River and the Kolyma River. It is in length. The area of its basin is 360,000 km²...

 was known as the Gulag inside the Gulag. In 1926, the Oimiakon (Оймякон) village in this region registered the record low temperature of −71.2 °C (−96 °F).

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
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 ore
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 and prepare test facilities on Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya , also known in Dutch as Nova Zembla and in Norwegian as , is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the northern island...

, Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island
Vaygach Island is an island in the Arctic Sea between the Pechora Sea and the Kara Sea.Vaygach Island is separated from the Yugorsky Peninsula in the mainland by the Yugorsky Strait and from Novaya Zemlya by the Kara Strait...

, Semipalatinsk
Semipalatinsk Test Site
The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons. It is located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan , south of the valley of the Irtysh River...

, among other sites.

Throughout the history of the Soviet Union
History of the Soviet Union
The history of the Soviet Union has roots in the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, emerged as the main political force in the capital of the former Russian Empire, though they had to fight a long and brutal civil war against the Mensheviks, or Whites...

, at least 476 separate camp administrations existed. The Russian researcher Galina Ivanovna stated that, "to date, Russian historians have discovered and described 476 camps that existed at different times on the territory of the USSR. It is well known that practically every one of them had several branches, many of which were quite large. In addition to the large numbers of camps, there were no less than 2,000 colonies. It would be virtually impossible to reflect the entire mass of Gulag facilities on a map that would also account for the various times of their existence." 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. The infamous complexes were those at Kolyma
Kolyma
The Kolyma region is located in the far north-eastern area of Russia in what is commonly known as Siberia but is actually part of the Russian Far East. It is bounded by the East Siberian Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk to the south...

, Norilsk
Norilsk
Norilsk is an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located between the Yenisei River and the Taymyr Peninsula. Population: It was granted city status in 1953. It is the northernmost city in Siberia and the world's second largest city north of the Arctic Circle...

, and Vorkuta
Vorkuta
Vorkuta is a coal-mining town in the Komi Republic, Russia, situated just north of the Arctic Circle in the Pechora coal basin at the Usa River. Population: - Labor camp origins :...

, 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.

Special institutions

  • Special camps or zones for children (Gulag jargon
    Jargon
    Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

    : , underaged), for disabled (in Spassk
    Spassk
    Spassk may refer to:*Spassk, Penza Oblast, a town in Penza Oblast, Russia*Spassk, Kemerovo Oblast, an urban-type settlement in Kemerovo Oblast, Russia*Spassk-Dalny, a town in Primorsky Krai, Russia*Spassk-Ryazansky, a town in Ryazan Oblast, Russia...

    ), and for mothers with babies.
  • Camps for "wives of traitors of Motherland" — there was a special category of repression: "Traitor of Motherland Family Member" .
  • Sharashka
    Sharashka
    Sharashka was an informal name for secret research and development laboratories in the Soviet Gulag labor camp system...

    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.

Archival documents


Statistical reports made by the OGPU-NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

-MGB
MGB
The abbreviation MGB may refer to:* Mathematical Gymnasium Belgrade, special school, elementary and high school, for gifted in areas of mathematics, physics, and ICT, under University of Belgrade umbrella...

-MVD between the 1930s and 1950s are kept in the State Archive of the Russian Federation formerly called Central State Archive of the October Revolution (CSAOR). These documents were highly classified and inaccessible. Amid glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 and democratization
Democratization
Democratization is the transition to a more democratic political regime. It may be the transition from an authoritarian regime to a full democracy, a transition from an authoritarian political system to a semi-democracy or transition from a semi-authoritarian political system to a democratic...

 in the late 1980s, Viktor Zemskov
Viktor Zemskov
Viktor Nikolaevich Zemskov is a Russian historian, doctor of historical sciences , scientific worker of the Institute of Russian History. He is a specialist on the Gulag...

 and other Russian researchers managed to gain access to the documents and published the highly classified statistical data collected by the OGPU-NKVD-MGB-MVD and related to the number of the Gulag prisoners, special settlers, etc. In 1995, Zemskov wrote that foreign scientists have begun to be admitted to the restricted-access collection of these documents in the State Archive of the Russian Federation since 1992. However, the only one historian, namely Zemskov, was admitted to these archives, and later the archives were again “closed”, according to Leonid Lopatnikov.

While considering the issue of reliability of the primary data provided by corrective labor institutions, it is necessary to take into account the following two circumstances. On the one hand, their administration was not interested to understate the number of prisoners in its reports, because it would have automatically led to a decrease in the food supply plan for camps, prisons, and corrective labor colonies. The decrement in food would have been accompanied by an increase in mortality that would have led to wrecking of the vast production program of the Gulag. On the other hand, overstatement of data of the number of prisoners also did not comply with departmental interests, because it was fraught with the same (i.e., impossible) increase in production tasks set by planning bodies. In those days, people were highly responsible for non-fulfilment of plan. It seems that a resultant of these objective departmental interests was a sufficient degree of reliability of the reports.

Between 1990 and 1992, the first precise statistical data on the Gulag based on the Gulag archives were published by Viktor Zemskov
Viktor Zemskov
Viktor Nikolaevich Zemskov is a Russian historian, doctor of historical sciences , scientific worker of the Institute of Russian History. He is a specialist on the Gulag...

. These had been generally accepted by leading Western scholars, despite the fact that a number of inconsistencies were found in this statistics. It is also necessary to note that not all conclusion drawn by Zemskov based on his data had been generally accepted. Thus, Sergei Maksudov noted that although the literary sources, for example the books of Lev Razgon
Lev Razgon
Lev Emmanuilovich Razgon was a Soviet and Russian writer, detainee of the Gulag, human rights activist....

 or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

, did not envisage the total number of the camps very well and markedly exaggerated their size, at the same time, from their experience, they knew something extraordinarily important about the Archipelago, its diabolical anti-human nature. On the other hand, Viktor Zemskov, who published many documents by the NKVD and KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

, is very far from understanding of the Gulag essence and the nature of socio-political processes in the country. Without distinguishing the degree of accuracy and reliability of certain figures, without making a critical analysis of sources, without comparing new data with already known information, Zemskov absolutizes the published materials by presenting them as the ultimate truth. As a result, his attempts to make generalized statements with reference to a particular document, as a rule, do not hold water.

In response, Zemskov wrote that the charge that Zemskov allegedly did not compare new data with already known information could not be called fair. In his words, the trouble with most western writers is that they do not benefit from such comparisons. Zemskov added that when he tried not to overuse the juxtaposition of new information with “old” one, it was only because of a sense of delicacy, not to once again psychologically traumatize the researchers whose works used incorrect figures, as it turned out after the publication of the statistics by the OGPU-NKVD-MGB-MVD.

According to French historian Nicolas Werth, the mountains of the materials of the Gulag archives, which are stored in funds of the State Archive of the Russian Federation and are being constantly exposed during the last fifteen years, represent only a very small part of bureaucratic prose of immense size left over the decades of “creativity” by the dull and reptile organization managing the Gulag. In many cases, local camp archives, which had been stored in sheds, barracks, or other rapidly disintegrating buildings, simply disappeared in the same way as most of the camp buildings did.

In 2004 and 2005, some archival documents were published in the edition Istoriya Stalinskogo Gulaga. Konets 1920-kh — Pervaya Polovina 1950-kh Godov. Sobranie Dokumentov v 7 Tomakh (The History of Stalin’s Gulag. From the Late 1920s to the First Half of the 1950s. Collection of Documents in Seven Volumes) wherein each of its seven volumes covered a particular issue indicated in the title of the volume: the first volume has the title Massovye Repressii v SSSR (Mass Repression in the USSR), the second volume has the title Karatelnaya Sistema. Struktura i Kadry (Punitive System. Structure and Cadres), the third volume has the title Ekonomika Gulaga (Economy of the Gulag), the forth volume has the title Naselenie Gulaga. Chislennost i Usloviya Soderzhaniya (The Population of the Gulag. The Number and Conditions of Confinement), the fifth volume has the title Specpereselentsy v SSSR (Specsettlers in the USSR), the sixth volume has the title Vosstaniya, Bunty i Zabastovki Zaklyuchyonnykh (Uprisings, Riots, and Strikes of Prisoners), the seventh volume has the title Sovetskaya Pepressivno-karatelnaya Politika i Penitentsiarnaya Sistema. Annotirovanniy Ukazatel Del GA RF (Soviet Repressive and Punitive Policy. Annotated Index of Cases of the SA RF). The edition contains the brief introductions by the two “patriarchs of the Gulag science”, Robert Conquest
Robert Conquest
George Robert Ackworth Conquest CMG is a British historian who became a well-known writer and researcher on the Soviet Union with the publication in 1968 of The Great Terror, an account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s...

 and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

, and 1431 documents, the overwhelming majority of which were obtained from funds of the State Archive of the Russian Federation.

History of Gulag population estimates


During the decades before the dissolution of the USSR, the debates about the population size of GULAG failed to arrive to generally accepted figures; wide-ranging estimates have been offered, and the bias toward higher or lower side was frequently affected by political views of the particular author. Some of those earlier estimates (both high and low) are shown in the table below.
Outdated historical estimates of the GULAG population size (in chronological order)
GULAG population Year the estimate was made for Source Methodology
15 million 1940-42 Mora & Zwiernag(1945) --
2.3 million December 1937 Timasheff(1948) Calculation of disenfranchised population
Up to 3.5 million 1941 Jasny(1951) Analysis of the output of the Soviet enterprises run by NKVD
50 million total number of persons
passed through GULAG
Solzhenitsyn(1975) Analysis of various indirect data,
including own experience and testimonies of numerous witnesses
16 million 1938 Antonov-Ovseenko(1980) --
4-5 million 1939 Wheatcroft(1981) Analysis of demographic data.
10.6 million 1941 Rosefielde(1981) Based on data of Mora & Zwiernak and annual mortality.
5.5-9.5 million late 1938 Conquest (1991) 1937 Census figures, arrest and deaths
estimates, variety of personal and literary sources.
4-5 million every single year Volkogonov (1990s)
a.Note: Later numbers from Rosefielde, Wheatcroft and Conquest were revised down by the authors themselves.


Political reforms in the USSR in late 1980s ("glastnost'") and subsequent dissolution of the USSR had led to release of a large amount of formerly classified archival documents, including new demographic and NKVD data. Analysis of the official GULAG statistics by Western scholars immediately demonstrated that, despite their inconsistency, they do not support previously published higher estimates. Importantly, the released documents made possible to clarify terminology used to describe different categories of forced labour population, because the use of the terms "forced labour", "GULAG", "camps" interchangeably by early researchers led to significant confusion and resulted in significant inconsistencies in the earlier estimates. Archival studies revealed several components of the NKVD penal system in the Stalinist USSR: prisons, labor camps, labor colonies, as well as various "settlements" (exile) and of non-custodial forced labour. Although most of them fit the definition of forced labour, only labour camps, and labour colonies were associated with punitive forced labour in detention. Forced labour camps ("GULAG camps") were hard regime camps, whose inmates were serving more than three-year terms. As a rule, they were situated in remote parts of the USSR, and labour conditions were extremely hard there. They formed a core of the GUALG system. The inmates of "corrective labour colonies" served shorter terms; these colonies were located in less remote parts of the USSR, and they were run by local NKVD administration. Preliminary analysis of the GULAG camps and colonies statistics (see the chart on the right) demonstrated that the population reached the maximum before the WWII, then dropped sharply, partially due to massive releases, partially due to wartime high mortality, and then was gradually increasing until the end of Stalin era, reaching the global maximum in 1953, when the combined population of GULAG camps and labour colonies amounted 1,727,970 and 465,256, accordingly.

The results of these archival studies forced many scholars, including Robert Conquest
Robert Conquest
George Robert Ackworth Conquest CMG is a British historian who became a well-known writer and researcher on the Soviet Union with the publication in 1968 of The Great Terror, an account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s...

 or Stephen Wheatcroft to reconsider their earlier estimates of the size of the GULAG population, although with some reservations. Although such scholars as Rosefielde or Vishnevsky point at several inconsistencies in archival data, it is generally believed that these data provide more reliable and detailed information that the indirect data and literary sources available for the scholars during the Cold War era. These data allowed scholars to conclude that during the period of 1928–53, about 14 million prisoners passed through the system of GULAG labour camps and 4-5 passed through the labour colonies. Soviet archival figures should be treated with caution. Thus, these figures reflect the number of convicted persons, and do not take into account the fact that a significant part of Gulag inmates had been convicted more than one time, so the actual number of convicted is somewhat overstated by these statistics. From other hand, during some periods of Gulag history the official figures of GULAG population reflected the camps' capacity, not the actual amount of inmates, so the actual figures were 15% higher in, e.g. 1946.

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
Bard (Soviet Union)
The term bard came to be used in the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, and continues to be used in Russia today, to refer to singer-songwriters who wrote songs outside the Soviet establishment, similarly to beatnik folk singers of the United States...

, most notably Vladimir Vysotsky
Vladimir Vysotsky
Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky was a Soviet singer, songwriter, poet, and actor whose career had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. He became widely known for his unique singing style and for his lyrics, which featured social and political commentary in often humorous street...

 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
Alexander Dolgun
Alexander Dolgun was a survivor of the Soviet Gulag who wrote about his experiences in 1975 after being allowed to leave the Soviet Union and return to his native United States.- Pre-Gulag years :...

, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

, Varlam Shalamov
Varlam Shalamov
Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov , baptized as Varlaam, was a Russian writer, journalist, poet and Gulag survivor.-Early life:Varlam Shalamov was born in Vologda, Vologda Governorate, a Russian city with a rich culture famous for its wooden architecture, to a family of a hereditary Russian Orthodox...

 and Yevgenia Ginzburg
Yevgenia Ginzburg
Yevgenia Ginzburg was a Russian author who served an 18-year sentence in the Gulag. Her given name is often Latinized to Eugenia.-Family and early career:...

, 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
Magadan
Magadan is a port town on the Sea of Okhotsk and gateway to the Kolyma region. It is the administrative center of Magadan Oblast , in the Russian Far East. Founded in 1929 on the site of an earlier settlement from the 1920s, it was granted the status of town in 1939...

, where, for example, the quality of theatre production was comparable to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

's.

Literature


Many eyewitness accounts of Gulag prisoners have been published:
  • Varlam Shalamov
    Varlam Shalamov
    Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov , baptized as Varlaam, was a Russian writer, journalist, poet and Gulag survivor.-Early life:Varlam Shalamov was born in Vologda, Vologda Governorate, a Russian city with a rich culture famous for its wooden architecture, to a family of a hereditary Russian Orthodox...

    's Kolyma Tales
    The Kolyma Tales
    Kolyma Tales is a collection of short stories by Russian author Varlam Shalamov, about labour camp life in the Soviet Union. He began working on this book in 1954 and continued until 1973.-Background:...

     is a short-story collection, cited by most major works on the Gulag, and widely considered one of the main Soviet accounts.
  • Victor Kravchenko wrote "I Chose Freedom" after defecting to the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     in 1944. As a leader of industrial plants he had encountered forced labor camps in various parts of the Soviet Union from 1935 to 1941. He describes a visit to one camp at Kemerovo
    Kemerovo
    Kemerovo is an industrial city in Russia, situated on the Tom River, east-northeast of Novosibirsk. It is the administrative center of Kemerovo Oblast, located in the major coal mining region of the Kuznetsk Basin...

     on river Tom in Siberia. Factories paid a fixed sum to the KGB
    KGB
    The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

     for every convict they employed.
  • Anatoli Granovsky
    Anatoli Granovsky
    Anatoli Granovsky was an NKVD agent who defected to the West in 1946 and authored an autobiographical book about his career in Soviet intelligence. Granovsky was the son of a high-ranking Soviet bureaucrat, Mickail Granovsky, who was a victim of the Stalinist Purges of the late 1930s...

     wrote "I Was an NKVD Agent" after defecting
    Defection
    In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. More broadly, it involves abandoning a person, cause or doctrine to whom or to which one is bound by some tie, as of allegiance or duty.This term is also applied,...

     to Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

     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-Grudziński
    Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski
    Gustaw Herling-Grudziński was a Polish writer, journalist, essayist and soldier. He is best known for writing a personal account of life in the Soviet gulag - A World Apart.-Biography:...

     wrote A World Apart, which was translated into English by Andrzej Ciolkosz and published with an introduction by Bertrand Russell
    Bertrand Russell
    Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

     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
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

    's book The Gulag Archipelago
    The Gulag Archipelago
    The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a narrative relying on eyewitness testimony and primary research material, as well as the author's own experiences as a prisoner in a gulag labor camp...

    was not the first literary work about labor camps. His previous book on the subject, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a novel written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in November 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir . The story is set in a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s, and describes a single day of an ordinary prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov...

    ", about a typical day of the GULag inmate, was originally published in the most prestigious Soviet monthly, Novy Mir
    Novy Mir
    Novy Mir is a Russian language literary magazine that has been published in Moscow since January 1925. It was supposed to be modelled on the popular pre-Soviet literary magazine Mir Bozhy , which was published from 1892 to 1906, and its follow-up, Sovremenny Mir , which was published 1906-1917...

    , (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
    The First Circle
    In the First Circle is a novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn released in 1968. A fuller version of the book was published in English in 2009....

    , an account of three days in the lives of prisoners in the Marfino sharashka
    Sharashka
    Sharashka was an informal name for secret research and development laboratories in the Soviet Gulag labor camp system...

    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.
  • János Rózsás
    János Rózsás
    János Rózsás a writer, dubbed the "Hungarian Solzhenitsyn". He was held captive in the Soviet Union between 1944 and 1953, and during these years he became friends with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the famous Noble-prize winner Soviet writer...

    , Hungarian writer, often referred to as the Hungarian Solzhenitsyn, wrote a lot of books and articles on the issue of GULag.
  • Zoltan Szalkai
    Zoltan Szalkai
    Zoltán Szalkai, a Hungarian film director, was born in 1961. He studied agriculture and geology before turning to a career in directing documentary films....

    , Hungarian documentary filmmaker made several films of gulag camps.
  • Karlo Štajner, a Croatian communist active in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia
    Kingdom of Yugoslavia
    The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

     and manager of Comintern Publishing House in Moscow from 1932–39, 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 USSR–Yugoslavia
    Yugoslavia
    Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

    n 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
    Zagreb
    Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb's city...

    , Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

    . 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 1946–55.
  • Yevgenia Ginzburg
    Yevgenia Ginzburg
    Yevgenia Ginzburg was a Russian author who served an 18-year sentence in the Gulag. Her given name is often Latinized to Eugenia.-Family and early career:...

     wrote two famous books of her remembrances, Journey Into the Whirlwind and Within the Whirlwind.
  • Savić Marković Štedimlija
    Savic Markovic Štedimlija
    Savić Marković Štedimlija was a Montenegrin-Croatian nationalist publicist and writer, best known for his revisionist theories on the origins of the Montenegrin people...

    , pro-Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

    n Montenegrin ideologist and Ustasha regime collaborator. Caught on the run in Austria
    Austria
    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

     by the Red Army
    Red Army
    The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

     in 1945, he was sent to the USSR and spent ten years in Gulag. After release, Marković wrote autobiographic account in two volumes titled Ten years in Gulag (Deset godina u Gulagu, Matica crnogorska, Podgorica, Montenegro 2004)
  • Sławomir Rawicz's book, The Long Walk is a controversial account of his escape from the gulag during World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    .

Movies and television

  • The Way Back
    The Way Back
    The Way Back is a 2010 drama film about a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian Gulag camp during World War II. The film is directed by Peter Weir from a screenplay also by Weir and Keith Clarke, inspired by The Long Walk , a book by Sławomir Rawicz, a Polish POW in the Soviet Gulag. It...

  • As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me
    As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me
    As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me is a 2001 film about German World War II prisoner of war Clemens Forell's escape from a Siberian Gulag in Russia back to Germany. It is based on the eponymous book written by Josef Martin Bauer...

  • Lost in Siberia
    Lost in Siberia
    Lost in Siberia is a 1991 film which was produced in co-production between England and Russia. It was shot entirely in Russia, either on location or at Mosfilm Studio. The postproduction was started at Mosfilm Studio and completed in London....


Colonization


Soviet state documents show that the goals of the gulag included 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" (вольное поселение, volnoye poseleniye) outside the confinement of the camp. They were known as "free settlers" (вольнопоселенцы, volnoposelentsy, not to be confused with the term ссыльнопоселенцы,ssyl'noposelentsy, "exile settlers
Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union
Forced settlements in the Soviet Union took several forms. Though the most notorious was the Gulag labor camp system of penal labor, resettling of entire categories of population was another method of political repression implemented by the Soviet Union. At the same time, involuntary settlement...

"). 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.

The gulag inherited this approach from the katorga
Katorga
Katorga was a system of penal servitude of the prison farm type in Tsarist Russia...

 system.

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 Department
First Department
The First Department was in charge of secrecy and political security of the workplace of every enterprise or institution of the Soviet Union that dealt with any kind of technical or scientific information or had printing capabilities .Every branch of the Central Statistical Administration and its...

s" ' onMouseout='HidePop("51497")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Secret_police">secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 at all enterprises and institutions), because former "politicals" had to be monitored.

Many people released from camps were restricted from settling in larger cities
101st kilometre
101st kilometre is a colloquial name for the law restricting freedom of movement in the Soviet Union.In the Soviet Union, the rights of an inmate released from the prison would typically still be restricted for a long period of time...

.

Gulag memorials






Both Moscow and St. Petersburg have memorials to the victims of the Gulag made of boulders from the Solovki camp — the first prison camp in the Gulag system. Moscow's memorial is on Lubyanka Square
Lubyanka Square
Lubyanka Square in Moscow is about north east of Red Square. The name is first mentioned in 1480, when Ivan III settled many Novgorodians in the area. They built the church of St Sophia, modelled after St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, and called the area Lubyanka after the Lubyanitsy district of...

, 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)
Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions
Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions , is an annual day of remembrance for victims of political repression in the Soviet Union....

.

Notable Gulag prisoners

  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

  • Karl Steiner
  • Vladimir Petrov
  • Nikolai Getman
    Nikolai Getman
    Nikolai Getman , an artist, was born in 1917 in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and died at his home inOrel, Russia, in August 2004. He was a prisoner from 1946 to 1953 in forced labor camps in Siberia and Kolyma, where he survived as a result of his ability to sketch for the propaganda requirements of the...

  • Nikolay Timofeev-Ressovsky
  • Sergey Korolyov
    Sergey Korolyov
    Sergei Pavlovich Korolev ; died 14 January 1966 in Moscow, Russia) was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s...

  • Varlam Shalamov
    Varlam Shalamov
    Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov , baptized as Varlaam, was a Russian writer, journalist, poet and Gulag survivor.-Early life:Varlam Shalamov was born in Vologda, Vologda Governorate, a Russian city with a rich culture famous for its wooden architecture, to a family of a hereditary Russian Orthodox...

  • Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli
    Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli
    Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli, , sometimes spelled Chemenzeminli, born Yusif Mirbaba oghlu Vazirov Russia.Chamanzaminli was an Azerbaijani writer and statesman remembered for his novels, short stories, essays, and diaries...

  • Fr. Walter Ciszek
    Walter Ciszek
    Rev. Walter Ciszek, S.J. was a Polish-American Jesuit priest known for his clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1963....

     S.J.

See also

  • Index of Soviet Union-related articles
  • List of Gulag camps
  • List of uprisings in the Gulag
  • 101st kilometre
    101st kilometre
    101st kilometre is a colloquial name for the law restricting freedom of movement in the Soviet Union.In the Soviet Union, the rights of an inmate released from the prison would typically still be restricted for a long period of time...

  • Article 58
    Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code)
    Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on 25 February 1927 to arrest those suspected of counter-revolutionary activities. It was revised several times...

  • Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union
    Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union
    Forced settlements in the Soviet Union took several forms. Though the most notorious was the Gulag labor camp system of penal labor, resettling of entire categories of population was another method of political repression implemented by the Soviet Union. At the same time, involuntary settlement...

  • Kengir uprising
    Kengir uprising
    The Kengir uprising was a prisoner uprising that took place in the Soviet prison labor camp Kengir in May and June 1954. Its duration and intensity distinguished it from other Gulag uprisings in the same period ....

  • Kolyma
    Kolyma
    The Kolyma region is located in the far north-eastern area of Russia in what is commonly known as Siberia but is actually part of the Russian Far East. It is bounded by the East Siberian Sea and the Arctic Ocean in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk to the south...

  • Mass graves in the Soviet Union
    Mass graves in the Soviet Union
    This page discusses mass graves in the Soviet Union.-Soviet repression and terror:The government of the USSR under Stalin murdered many of its own citizens and foreigners. These mass killings were carried out by the security organisations, such as the NKVD, and reached their peak in the Great Purge...

  • Memorial
    Memorial (society)
    Memorial is an international historical and civil rights society that operates in a number of post-Soviet states. It focuses on recording and publicising the Soviet Union's totalitarian past, but also monitors human rights in post-Soviet states....

  • Nazino affair
    Nazino affair
    The Nazino affair was the mass deportation of 6,000 people, 4,000 of whom died, on Nazino Island in the Soviet Union in 1933. The small, isolated Western Siberian island is located about 800 km north of Tomsk, in Alexandrovsky District, Tomsk Oblast near the confluence of the Ob and Nazina Rivers...

  • Norilsk uprising
    Norilsk uprising
    The Norilsk uprising was a major uprising of the GULAG labor camp inmates in [Gorlag] and later in two camps of Norillag [ITL], Norilsk, URSS, now Russia, in the summer of 1953, shortly after Joseph Stalin's death...

    , an uprising in Norilsk
    Norilsk
    Norilsk is an industrial city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located between the Yenisei River and the Taymyr Peninsula. Population: It was granted city status in 1953. It is the northernmost city in Siberia and the world's second largest city north of the Arctic Circle...

     "Gorlag" (mining
    Mining
    Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

     camp), 1953
  • Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union
    Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union
    The history of Christianity in the Soviet Union was not limited to repression and secularization. Soviet policy toward religion was based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, which made atheism the official doctrine of the Soviet Union...

  • Population transfer in the Soviet Union
    Population transfer in the Soviet Union
    Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite...

  • Punitive psychiatry in the Soviet Union
  • Russian Mafia
    Russian Mafia
    The Russian Mafia is a name applied to organized crime syndicates in Russia and Ukraine. The mafia in various countries take the name of the country, as for example the Ukrainian mafia....

  • Soviet political repression
  • Thief in law
    Thief in law
    Thief in law is a criminal who is respected, has authority and a high ranking status within the...

  • USSR anti-religious campaign (1928–1941)
    USSR Anti-Religious Campaign (1928–1941)
    The USSR anti-religious campaign of 1928–1941 was a new phase of anti-religious persecution in the Soviet Union The campaign began in 1929, with the drafting of new legislation that severely prohibited religious activities and called for a heightened attack on religion in order to further...

  • Letters from Russian Prisons
    Letters from Russian Prisons
    Letters From Russian Prisons: Consisting of Reprints of Documents by Political Prisoners in Soviet Prisons, Prison Camps and Exile, and Reprints of Affidavits Concerning Political Persecution in Soviet Russia, Official Statements by Soviet Authorities, Excerpts from Soviet Laws Pertaining to Civil...



Forced labor camps elsewhere:
  • Slavery in the United States (United States)
  • Devil's Island
    Devil's Island
    Devil's Island is the smallest and northernmost island of the three Îles du Salut located about 6 nautical miles off the coast of French Guiana . It has an area of 14 ha . It was a small part of the notorious French penal colony in French Guiana until 1952...

     (France)
  • The Vietnamese Gulag
    The Vietnamese Gulag
    The Vietnamese Gulag is the autobiography of the Vietnamese pro-democracy activist Doan Van Toai. The book focuses specifically on his arrest and imprisonment by the Communist Vietnamese government, events which precipitated a change in his political belief from luke-warm communist to advocate of...

  • Extermination through labor (Nazi Germany)
  • Danube-Black Sea Canal
    Danube-Black Sea Canal
    The Danube – Black Sea Canal is a canal in Romania which runs from Cernavodă on the Danube to Agigea and Năvodari on the Black Sea...

     (Communist Romania)
  • Katorga
    Katorga
    Katorga was a system of penal servitude of the prison farm type in Tsarist Russia...

     (Russian Empire)
  • Laogai
    Laogai
    Laogai , the abbreviation for Láodòng Gǎizào , which means "reform through labor," is a slogan of the Chinese criminal justice system and has been used to refer to the use of prison labor and prison farms in the People's Republic of China . It is estimated that in the last fifty years more than...

     (China)
  • Goli Otok
    Goli otok
    Goli otok is an island off the northern Adriatic coast, located between Rab's northeastern shore and the mainland, in what is today Croatia's Primorje-Gorski Kotar county. The island is barren and uninhabited...

     (Yugoslavia)
  • Yodok
    Yodok concentration camp
    Yodok concentration camp is a political prison camp in North Korea. The official name is Kwan-li-so No. 15.-Location:...

     (North Korea)
  • Camp 22 (North Korea)

Further reading


Books
  • Anne Applebaum
    Anne Applebaum
    Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post...

    , Gulag: A History
    Gulag: A History
    Gulag: A History, also published as Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps, is a non-fiction book covering the history of the Soviet Gulag system. It was written by American author Anne Applebaum and published in 2003 by Doubleday. Gulag won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the...

    , Broadway Books, 2003, hardcover, 720 pp., ISBN 0-7679-0056-1.
  • Walter Ciszek
    Walter Ciszek
    Rev. Walter Ciszek, S.J. was a Polish-American Jesuit priest known for his clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1963....

    , With God in Russia, Ignatius Press, 1997, 433 pp., ISBN 0-8987-0574-6.
  • Simon Ertz, Zwangsarbeit im stalinistischen Lagersystem: Eine Untersuchung der Methoden, Strategien und Ziele ihrer Ausnutzung am Beispiel Norilsk, 1935-1953, Duncker & Humblot, 2006, 273 pp., ISBN 9783428118632.
  • Orlando Figes
    Orlando Figes
    Orlando Figes is a British historian of Russia, and Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London.-Overview:Figes is the son of the feminist writer Eva Figes. His sister is the author and editor Kate Figes. He attended William Ellis School in north London from 1971-78...

    , The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, Allen Lane, 2007, hardcover, 740 pp., ISBN 0141013516.
  • J. Arch Getty
    J. Arch Getty
    John Archibald Getty, III is an American historian and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is noted for his research on Russian and Soviet history, especially the period under Joseph Stalin and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.-Life and career:Getty was...

    , Oleg V. Naumov, The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939, Yale University Press, 1999, 635 pp., ISBN 0-300-07772-6.
  • Jehanne M. Gheith and Katherine R. Jolluck. Gulag Voices: Oral Histories of Soviet Detention and Exile (Palgrave Studies in Oral History). Palgrave Macmillan
    Palgrave Macmillan
    Palgrave Macmillan is an international academic and trade publishing company, headquartered in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom and with offices in New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong, Delhi, Johannesburg. It was created in 2000 when St...

    , 2010. ISBN 0230610633
  • Slawomir Rawicz
    Slawomir Rawicz
    Sławomir Rawicz was a Polish Army lieutenant who was imprisoned by the Soviets after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland. In a ghost-written book called The Long Walk, he claimed that in 1941 he and six others had escaped from a Siberian Gulag camp and walked over south, through the Gobi Desert,...

    . "The Long Walk". 1995. ISBN 1558216847
  • Paul R. Gregory, Valery Lazarev, eds, The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8179-3942-3, full text available online at "Hoover Books Online"
  • Jan T. Gross
    Jan T. Gross
    Jan Tomasz Gross is a Polish-American historian and sociologist. He is the Norman B. Tomlinson '16 and '48 Professor of War and Society and Professor of History at Princeton University.- Biography :Jan T...

     (intro) and Nicolas Werth, Cannibal Island: Death in a Siberian Gulag (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity). Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 2007. 248 pp., ISBN 0691130833.
  • Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski
    Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski
    Gustaw Herling-Grudziński was a Polish writer, journalist, essayist and soldier. He is best known for writing a personal account of life in the Soviet gulag - A World Apart.-Biography:...

    , A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II, Penguin, 1996, 284 pp., ISBN 0-14-025184-7.
  • Adam Hochschild
    Adam Hochschild
    Adam Hochschild is an American author and journalist.-Biography:Hochschild was born in New York City. As a college student, he spent a summer working on an anti-government newspaper in South Africa and subsequently worked briefly as a civil rights worker in Mississippi in 1964...

    , The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), 304 pp., paperback: ISBN 0-618-25747-0.
  • Oleg V. Khlevniuk, The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror, Yale University Press, 2004, hardcover, 464 pp., ISBN 0-300-09284-9.
  • Tomasz Kizny, Gulag: Life and Death Inside the Soviet Concentration Camps 1917-1990, Firefly Books Ltd., 2004, 496 pp., ISBN 1-55297-964-4.
  • Istorija stalinskogo Gulaga: konec 1920-kh - pervaia polovina 1950-kh godov; sobranie dokumentov v 7 tomach, ed. by V. P. Kozlov et al., Moskva: ROSSPEN 2004-5, 7 vols. ISBN 5-8243-0604-4
  • Jacques Rossi
    Jacques Rossi
    Jacques Rossi , was a Polish-French writer and polyglot. Rossi was best known for his books on the gulag....

    , The Gulag Handbook: An Encyclopedia Dictionary of Soviet Penitentiary Institutions and Terms Related to the Forced Labor Camps, 1989, ISBN 1-55778-024-2.
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

    • The Gulag Archipelago
      The Gulag Archipelago
      The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a narrative relying on eyewitness testimony and primary research material, as well as the author's own experiences as a prisoner in a gulag labor camp...

      , Harper & Row, 660 pp., ISBN 0-06-080332-0.
    • The Gulag Archipelago: Two, Harper & Row, 712 pp., ISBN 0-06-080345-2.
  • Karl Tobien. Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag. WaterBrook Press, 2006. ISBN 1400070783
  • Nicolas Werth, "A State Against Its People: Violence, Repression, and Terror in the Soviet Union, in Stephane Courtois
    Stéphane Courtois
    Stéphane Courtois is a French historian, an internationally known expert on communist studies, particularly the history of communism and communist genocides, and author of several books...

     et al., eds., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, Harvard University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-674-07608-7, pp. 33–260.
  • "The Literature of Stalin's Repressions" in Azerbaijan International, Vol 14:1 (Spring 2006)


Memoirs
  • Anne Applebaum
    Anne Applebaum
    Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post...

     (foreword) and Paul Hollander
    Paul Hollander
    Paul Hollander is an American scholar, journalist, and conservative political writer. He is known for his criticisms of Communism and left-wing politics. In 1956, he escaped to the west from his native country. He has a Ph.D in Sociology from Princeton University, 1963 and a B.A. from the London...

     (introduction and editor). From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States. Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006. ISBN 1932236783 (from the annotation: "more than forty dramatic personal memoirs of Communist violence and repression from political prisoners across the globe")
  • Janusz Bardach
    Janusz Bardach
    Dr. Janusz Bardach was a gulag survivor, author, and noted plastic surgeon. He was the younger brother of Polish legal scholar Juliusz Bardach- Early life :...

    , Man Is Wolf to Man
    Man Is Wolf To Man
    Man Is Wolf to Man from the Latin Homo homini lupus is a memoir by Janusz Bardach, primarily surrounding the years during World War II. It was co-written with Kathleen Gleeson...

    : Surviving the Gulag.
    University of California Press, 1999. ISBN 0520221524
  • Alexander Dolgun
    Alexander Dolgun
    Alexander Dolgun was a survivor of the Soviet Gulag who wrote about his experiences in 1975 after being allowed to leave the Soviet Union and return to his native United States.- Pre-Gulag years :...

    , Patrick Watson, "Alexander Dolgun's story: An American in the Gulag", NY, Knopf, 1975, 370 pp., ISBN 978-0394494975.
  • Eugenia Ginzburg
    Yevgenia Ginzburg
    Yevgenia Ginzburg was a Russian author who served an 18-year sentence in the Gulag. Her given name is often Latinized to Eugenia.-Family and early career:...

    , Journey into the whirlwind, Harvest/HBJ Book, 2002, 432 pp., ISBN 0156027518.
  • Eugenia Ginzburg
    Yevgenia Ginzburg
    Yevgenia Ginzburg was a Russian author who served an 18-year sentence in the Gulag. Her given name is often Latinized to Eugenia.-Family and early career:...

    , Within the Whirlwind, Harvest/HBJ Book, 1982, 448 pp., ISBN 0156976498.
  • Jerzy Gliksman, Tell the West: An account of his experiences as a slave laborer in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Gresham Press, 358pp. (abridged edition: New York : National Committee for a Free Europe
    National Committee for a Free Europe
    The National Committee for a Free Europe was an American anti-communist organization, founded on March 17, 1949 in New York, which worked for the spreading of American influence in Europe and to oppose Stalin's Soviet occupation and dictatorship...

    , c 1948, 95pp.)
  • Julius Margolin, ПУТЕШЕСТВИЕ В СТРАНУ ЗЭ-КА A Travel to the Land Ze-Ka, full text, according to the original manuscript (book written in 1947-47, first printed in 1952)
  • Fyodor V. Mochulsky, Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir, Oxford University Press, 272 pp., the first memoir from an NKVD employee translated into English
  • Tamara Petkevich, Memoir of a Gulag Actress, Northen Illinois University, 2010
  • John H. Noble
    John H. Noble
    John H. Noble was an American survivor of the Soviet Gulag system, who wrote two books relating to his experiences after being permitted to leave the Soviet Union and return to his native United States....

    , I Was a Slave in Russia, Broadview, Illinois: Cicero Bible Press, 1961).
  • Varlam Shalamov
    Varlam Shalamov
    Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov , baptized as Varlaam, was a Russian writer, journalist, poet and Gulag survivor.-Early life:Varlam Shalamov was born in Vologda, Vologda Governorate, a Russian city with a rich culture famous for its wooden architecture, to a family of a hereditary Russian Orthodox...

    , Kolyma Tales
    The Kolyma Tales
    Kolyma Tales is a collection of short stories by Russian author Varlam Shalamov, about labour camp life in the Soviet Union. He began working on this book in 1954 and continued until 1973.-Background:...

    , Penguin Books, 1995, 528 pp., ISBN 0-14-018695-6.
  • Danylo Shumuk
    Danylo Shumuk
    Danylo Lavrentiyovych Shumuk was a Ukrainian political activist who served a total of 42 years imprisoned by three different states, Second Polish Republic, Nazi Germany and Soviet Union.- Living in the Second Polish Republic:...

    ,
    • Life sentence: Memoirs of a Ukrainian political prisoner, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Study, 1984, 401 pp., ISBN 978-0920862179.
    • Za Chidnim Obriyam - (Beyond The Eastern Horizon),Paris, Baltimore: Smoloskyp, 1974, 447 pp.
  • Hava Volovich
    Hava Volovich
    Hava Vladimirovna Volovich , was a Russian writer, actress, director and a Gulag survivor.Hava Volovich is known for her Memoirs, that are extremely valuable both historically and literary....

    , My Tale is Told: Women's Memoirs of Gulag, by Simeon Vilensky, Indiana University Press, 1999
  • Solzhenitsyn's, Shalamov's, Ginzburg's works at Lib.ru (in original Russian)
  • Вернон Кресс (alias of Петр Зигмундович Демант) "Зекамерон XX века", autobiographical novel
  • Бирюков А.М. Колымские истории: очерки. Новосибирск, 2004


Fiction
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

    • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
      One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
      One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a novel written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in November 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir . The story is set in a Soviet labor camp in the 1950s, and describes a single day of an ordinary prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov...

      , Signet Classic, 158 pp., ISBN 0-451-52310-5.
    • The First Circle
      The First Circle
      In the First Circle is a novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn released in 1968. A fuller version of the book was published in English in 2009....

      , Northwestern University Press, 580 pp., ISBN 978-0810115903.
  • Chabua Amirejibi
    Chabua Amirejibi
    Mzechabuk "Chabua" Amirejibi, is a Georgian novelist and Soviet-era dissident notable for his magnum opus, Data Tutashkhia, and a lengthy experience in Soviet prisons.- Early life and career :...

    , Gora Mborgali. Tbilisi, Georgia: Chabua, 2001, 650 pp., ISBN 99940-734-1-9.
  • Mehdi Husein (1905-1965), "Underground Rivers Flow Into the Sea" (Excerpts - First Novel About Exile to the Gulag by an Azerbaijani Writer)
  • Martin Amis
    Martin Amis
    Martin Louis Amis is a British novelist, the author of many novels including Money and London Fields . He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, but will step down at the end of the 2010/11 academic year...

    , House of Meetings. New York: Vintage Books, 2006, 242 pp., ISBN 978-1-4000-9601-5.
  • Herta Müller
    Herta Müller
    Herta Müller is a Romanian-born German novelist, poet and essayist noted for her works depicting the effects of violence, cruelty and terror, usually in the setting of Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceauşescu regime which she experienced herself...

    , Everything I Possess I Carry With Me
    Everything I Possess I Carry With Me
    Everything I Possess I Carry With Me is a novel by German Nobel Prize-winning author Herta Müller, published in 2009 by Carl Hanser Verlag....

  • Martin Booth
    Martin Booth
    Martin Booth was a prolific British novelist and poet. He also worked as a teacher and screenwriter, and was the founder of the Sceptre Press.-Early life:...

    , The Industry Of Souls. United Kingdom: Dewi Lewis Publishing, 1998, 250 pp., ISBN 0-312-26753-3.


Movies and television
  • The Way Back
    The Way Back
    The Way Back is a 2010 drama film about a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian Gulag camp during World War II. The film is directed by Peter Weir from a screenplay also by Weir and Keith Clarke, inspired by The Long Walk , a book by Sławomir Rawicz, a Polish POW in the Soviet Gulag. It...

    2010 war drama film about a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian Gulag camp during World War II.

External links