Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Gulag

Twelve facts* about the Soviet Gulag.
1. The word gulag is an acronym. It comes from the words "Glavnoe upravlenie lagerie" meaning Main Camp Administration.
2. Over 30,000 camp units were registered.
3. The Gulag - as a system of labour - was officially dissolved on January 25, 1960. It continued on a smaller scale until 1987.
4. The Gulag included: labour camps, punishment camps, transit camps, criminal and political camps, women's camps and children's camps.
5. In 1929, Stalin's secret police began to take over the control of these camps. (Previously they'd been under judicial rule.)
6. Best estimates indicate 28.7 million people passed through the Gulag system. (According to Anne Applebaum).
7. The Gulag was part of Stalin's economic plan - forced labour to build industry. (Gold, coal, ore, lumber, uranium, the White Sea Canal, train track expansion, etc.)
8. Gulag victims were arrested not for specific crimes but for their potential crimes as an 'enemy' of the Soviet state.
9. Gulag victims died of hunger, cold, work, disease & hopelessness. Total death statistics are unavailable.
10. Corpses were stacked up during the winter for a mass burial when the ground thawed.
11. The West has yet to realize the extent of human rights abuses committed in the USSR.12. The Memorial Society was created in the former Soviet Union to remember the Gulag's victims.

* facts
These facts are not certain. The cold, hard facts may never be known.

Here's a link to a photo site of the gulag.

One more fact: My mom was in the Gulag system twice. Once, in winter of 1930/1, as an eleven year daughter of a kulak and then again in 1945 as a German prisoner of war. She came to Canada and wanted to forget and now here I am, trying to make her remember.

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