This landmark book uncovers for the first time in detail one of the greatest horrors of the twentieth century: the vast system of Soviet camps that were responsible for the deaths of countless millions. Gulag is the only major history in any language to draw together the mass of memoirs and writings on the Soviet camps that have been published in Russia and the West. Using these, as well as her own original research in NKVD archives and interviews with survivors, Anne Applebaum has written a fully documented history of the camp system: from its origins under the tsars, to its colossal expansion under Stalin's reign of terror, its zenith in the late 1940s and eventual collapse in the era of glasnost. It is a gigantic feat of investigation, synthesis and moral reckoning.
Death and Redemption offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the role of the Gulag--the Soviet Union's vast system of forced-labor camps, internal exile, and prisons--in Soviet society. Soviet authorities undoubtedly had the means to exterminate all the prisoners who passed through the Gulag, but unlike the Nazis they did not conceive of their concentration camps as instruments of genocide. In this provocative book, Steven Barnes argues that the Gulag must be understood primarily as a penal institution where prisoners were given one final chance to reintegrate into Soviet society. Millions whom authorities deemed "reeducated" through brutal forced labor were allowed to leave. Millions more who "failed" never got out alive. Drawing on newly opened archives in Russia and Kazakhstan as well as memoirs by actual prisoners, Barnes shows how the Gulag was integral to the Soviet goal of building a utopian socialist society. He takes readers into the Gulag itself, focusing on one outpost of the Gulag system in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, a location that featured the full panoply of Soviet detention institutions. Barnes traces the Gulag experience from its beginnings after the 1917 Russian Revolution to its decline following the 1953 death of Stalin. Death and Redemption reveals how the Gulag defined the border between those who would reenter Soviet society and those who would be excluded through death.
The Rediscovery and Commemoration of Russia's Repressive Past
Author: Zuzanna Bogumił
Publisher: Berghahn Books
Though the institution of the Gulag was nominally closed over half a decade ago, it lives on as an often hotly contested site of memory in the post-socialist era. This ethnographic study takes a holistic, comprehensive approach to understanding memories of the Gulag, and particularly the language of commemoration that surrounds it in present-day Russian society. It focuses on four regions of particular historical significance—the Solovetsky Islands, the Komi Republic, the Perm region, and Kolyma—to carefully explore how memories become a social phenomenon, how objects become heritage, and how the human need to create sites of memory has preserved the Gulag in specific ways today.
A new and chilling study of lethal human exploitation in the Soviet forced labor camps, one of the pillars of Stalinist terror In a shocking new study of life and death in Stalin’s Gulag, historian Golfo Alexopoulos suggests that Soviet forced labor camps were driven by brutal exploitation and often administered as death camps. The first study to examine the Gulag penal system through the lens of health, medicine, and human exploitation, this extraordinary work draws from previously inaccessible archives to offer a chilling new view of one of the pillars of Stalinist terror.
Forced Labour, Mass Death, and Soviet Victory in the Second World War
Author: Wilson T. Bell
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Stalin's Gulag at War places the Gulag within the story of the regional wartime mobilization of Western Siberia during the Second World War. The author explores a diverse array of issues, including mass death, informal practices, and the responses of prisoners and personnel to the war.
The History and Legacy of the Notorious Soviet Labor Camps
Author: Charles River Editors
Publisher: Independently Published
*Includes pictures *Includes accounts *Includes a bibliography for further reading One of the most idiosyncratic horrors of Soviet Russia was the Gulag system, an extensive network of forced labor and concentration camps. Part of the rationale behind this system was that it could serve as slave labor in the drive for industrialization, while also serving as a form of punishment. The name Gulag is in fact an acronym, approximating to "Main Administration of Camps" (in Russian: Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei) and operated by the Soviet Union's Ministry of the Interior. The Gulag consisted of internment camps, forced labor camps, psychiatric hospital facilities, and special laboratories, and its prisoners were known as zeks. Such was the closed and secretive nature of the Soviet state that to this day, knowledge of the Gulag system comes mainly from Western studies, firsthand accounts by prisoners such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and some local studies after the fall of communism. The most recognizable version of the Gulag, a term that was never pluralized in Russia itself, existed from the 1930s-1950s, a period in which a huge network of camps and prisons was established across the vast Soviet federation. Prisoners were often used as forced labor, made to do physically arduous and soul-destroying tasks. Some workers helped to build large infrastructure projects, and indeed the system was partly rationalized in terms of economics. By the early 1960s, Gulags were synonymous with various forms of punishments, including house arrest, imprisonment in isolated places, or confinement to a mental hospital where a prisoner would be declared insane or diagnosed with a "political" form of psychosis. In its later years, the Gulags held a particular place in the public's imagination, both within the USSR and in the outside world. They could mean exile, brutal punishment, or simply being banished to Siberia. Though it's often forgotten today, in many respects the Gulags represented a continuation (albeit a more far-reaching version) of the kind of punishment meted out during the Russian Empire under the Romanov dynasty, which was overthrown in 1917. Therefore, it is necessary to examine the system in the context of the broader history of Russia and its empire, even as the system of repression, imprisonment and punishment persisted for decades in the Soviet Union and has been primarily aligned with the rule of one leader: Josef Stalin. As the USSR's leader for almost 30 years and one of history's most notorious tyrants, Stalin was a believer in the economic utility of the Gulags' forced labor. He was so paranoid that he constantly saw potential enemies among his people, particularly his Bolshevik contemporaries. Stalin sent hundreds of thousands to the Gulags, notably in the 1930s during his "Great Terror" and after the end of the Second World War. For Soviet politicians, the Gulags served as a propaganda disaster, and they were constantly cited by Western leaders. Many nominal supporters of the Soviet Union were forced to reappraise their stance towards the country when reports of Stalin's Gulag became common knowledge, and the prison camps became an international issue during the Cold War, especially as human rights became a foreign policy priority for the West in the 1970s. A number of Soviet dissidents and former or current occupants of the Gulag, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, became cause celebres for campaigners outside the country. The USSR collapsed in December 1991, and it can be argued that the labor camps were not only integral to the very existence of the Soviet Union, but also a damning indictment of the Soviets' failed experiment in communist totalitarianism. The Gulags: The History and Legacy of the Notorious Soviet Labor Camps examines the rise of the labor camps, how they were instutionalized by Soviet leaders, and what life was like for the prisoners.
The human cost of the Gulag, the Soviet labor camp system in which millions of people were imprisoned between 1920 and 1956, was staggering. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and others after him have written movingly about the Gulag, yet never has there been a thorough historical study of this unique and tragic episode in Soviet history. This groundbreaking book presents the first comprehensive, historically accurate account of the camp system. Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk has mined the contents of extensive archives, including long-suppressed state and Communist Party documents, to uncover the secrets of the Gulag and how it became a central component of Soviet ideology and social policy.
The impact of Communism on the twentieth century was massive, equal to that of the two world wars. Until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, historians knew relatively little about the secretive world of communist states and parties. Since then, the opening of state, party, and diplomatic archives of the former Eastern Bloc has released a flood of new documentation. The thirty-five essays in this Handbook, written by an international team of scholars, draw on this new material to offer a global history of communism in the twentieth century. In contrast to many histories that concentrate on the Soviet Union, The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism is genuinely global in its coverage, paying particular attention to the Chinese Revolution. It is 'global', too, in the sense that the essays seek to integrate history 'from above' and 'from below', to trace the complex mediations between state and society, and to explore the social and cultural as well as the political and economic realities that shaped the lives of citizens fated to live under communist rule. The essays reflect on the similarities and differences between communist states in order to situate them in their socio-political and cultural contexts and to capture their changing nature over time. Where appropriate, they also reflect on how the fortunes of international communism were shaped by the wider economic, political, and cultural forces of the capitalist world. The Handbook provides an informative introduction for those new to the field and a comprehensive overview of the current state of scholarship for those seeking to deepen their understanding.