The history of the USSR is full of successes and failures, but above all of much blood and injustice, like all countries that go through a revolutionary transition. For present-day Russia, as with Germany, the horrors of the life of the Soviet Union are only a reminder of what not to do, while trying to build a new identity, away from violence. Today we particularly want to talk about the GULAG and what life was like in Russian labor camps.
What is GULAG?
GULAG is the acronym of Glávnoieupravlenie ispravítelno-trudovyj lagueréi i koloni, or what is the same in Spanish: General Directorate of Labor Camps. It was a branch of NKVD who ran the penal system of forced labor camps, under the command of the Soviet Union police and the KGB. This system was created in 1930 and was dissolved in 1960.
The historian Anne Applebaum, in her book Gulag: History of the Soviet concentration camps, explains the following:
"The word Gulag has come to denominate not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the Soviet system of forced labor in itself, in all its forms and varieties: fields of work, of punishment, of criminals and politicians, of women, children or transit. Or even more, the prisoners sometimes called it a "meat grinder": arrests, interrogations, transport in cattle vehicles, forced labor, destruction of families, years lost in exile, premature deaths and unnecessary. "
- Anne applebaum
- Editor: DISCUSS
- Soft cover: 672 pages
Last update on 2019-06-29 / Affiliate Links / API Images for Affiliates
But strictly limiting ourselves to forced labor camps, between 1932 and 1937 created 1000 camps, where they went to for spies and believers of the Christian faith.
Life in Russian labor camps
Ivan Chistyakov was a very prominent engineer, but at 1935 he was declared "insufficiently proletarian" and expelled from the Communist Party in the Russia of Josef Stalin. With that accusation he was sent to a forced labor camp in Siberia, where he was forced to work as a guard, arguing that he was too smart to perform other functions. All the experiences of the GULAG are collected in his personal diary.
In his diary, Chistyakov talks about the long hours of work under extreme weather, the rapes against women, the beatings that anyone could receive for inappropriate behavior, the atrocious hunger and the increasingly absurd detentions that could be thought.
The stories of this engineer's diary are confirmed by the autobiographical writing of the Polish journalist and writer, Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski (1919-2000), entitled A World Apart. Herling published this book at 1951, based on his two-year experience in the Arjánguelsk field in northern Russia.
About this last book, the professor of the University of Barcelona and translator of Russian books, Ricardo San Vicente, comments:
"Herling states in his book to what extent the state can destroy a man."
- Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski
- Editor: Asteroid Books
- Edition no. 1 (02 / 27 / 2012)
- Soft cover: 346 pages
Last update on 2019-06-30 / Affiliate Links / API Images for Affiliates
And in short, the GULAG ended up being that, the destruction of the spirit of all men who thought differently.