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Gulags

Page history last edited by Bill 8 years, 9 months ago

Gulags

 


 

 

 In a time of tragedy and despair, many Russians and other Eastern Europeans (Caucasians, Kirghiz, Kazakhs, Mordovians, Uzbeks, and Ukrainians) suffered under the rule of the infamous communist dictator, Josef Stalin. During this time, millions of individuals were often wrongly accused of having "individualistic tendencies." In other words, they allegedly opposed the Soviet Union or its government. This often included political criminals and revolutionary leaders who disregarded Stalin. If not killed, these people were often sent to cruel forced labor camps called Gulags.

 

 

Josef Stalin 

 

 

History 

 

 

Labor camps in Siberia were closed shortly after the Russian Revolution when the tsars ruled. However, these labor camps were reopened in the 1930's by Joseph Stalin when he came to power, and became known as Gulags. Literally, the word Gulag is an acronym for Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagere (translated in English, it means Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps), but many of its prisoners referred to it as "meat-grinder." These camps were located in the northern part of Russia in an area known as Siberia. Prisoners were often shipped to the camps in unheated cattle cars when the temperatures outside were well below freezing

 

Stalin's Gulags were held accountable for millions of unnecessary deaths. This number is greater than the number of Americans  that were killed in all of the United State's wars combined. During World War II, Gulag populations sank because of the mass releases of  prisoners for the war. After World War II, the population of Gulags rose again. In fact,  Joseph Stalin intentionally modeled his prisons to the concentration camps used by Adolph Hitler in World War II.

 

Interestingly enough, Stalin was particularly suspicious of foreign communists. Most of these communists were Jews from Germany, Hungary and Austria. Then in 1937, many of these people were arrested and shipped to Siberia by the NKVD secret police. Nikolai Yezhov was appointed as the head of police at the time. This secret police force's favorite method of catching "criminals" was to give them intense interrogation and  threaten to harm their family members and friends. This usually took a few days until the "criminal" finally agreed to confess he/she was attempting to overthrow the government.  

 

Even though Gulag camps were reduced in size after Stalin's death in 1953, forced labor camps still existed through out the Soviet Union. They went on until the Gorbachev era.

 

 

A Journey to a Gulag

 

 

Josef Stalin put people in Gulags not only because they offended him, but for numerous other reasons. As silly as it seems, Stalin would sometimes put them in Gulags for very petty crimes, such as stealing a potato or being late for work. After the people were accused of being a criminal, they started their long journey to a horrifying and unpleasant Gulag. They traveled there on unheated cattle cars or carriages, which was very harsh. The people who were traveling in them were stopped usually in deserted areas for inspections twice a day. This was when the prisoners had to get out of the carriages, line up, and get ready to be counted. The guards usually beat these peoples with a hammer, all because of pure spite.     

 

One other harsh condition in the carriages was food rations, which were very scarce. Some people say that depends on the mood of the guards. If the guard was feeling good, he might give them a bit more food. However, if a guard was in a bad mood, he would beat them if they even dared to ask. Some foods that were served in the cattle cars or carriages were, bread, fish, potatoes, porridge, and vegetables. There are many other hardships that the workers had to face. Some of them were inadequate clothing, overcrowded housing, poor hygiene, and insufficient health care. After the workers suffered the long and hard journey in the cattle cars/carriages, they reached their destination: a repulsive and deadly Gulag.

 

 

Life

 

 

The majority of the time the inhabitants at these labor camps were Stalin's enemies. Hardly any of them were common criminals (murderers, robbers etc.) Most of the prisoners never had contact with their families or any explanation for their arrest. They just became Stalin's slave workers. These inmates were brutally treated, often slaving away for almost eighteen hours each day. Prisoners were put to work doing very strenuous tasks, such as mining copper and coal in dangerous mines and chopping down trees by hand in the Siberian forests.

 

In addition to working hard jobs in bitter cold temperatures, food rations were very little and the prisoners had to work under unsanitary conditions. Also, the prisoners received almost no clothing adequate for the harsh Siberian weather. As a result, many people died of the maltreatment, hypothermia, starvation, and illnesses. It is believed that approximately fifty million people died in Soviet Gulags during 1990-1950.

 

 

The Camps

 

 

When the prisoners were not working they were held in barbed wire fenced enclosures. Sleeping conditions were not pleasant, as the inmates were stored in cramped bunks that were far from sanitary. The food rations were quite inadequate compared to the work prisoners were forced to do and were often very skimpy. The prisoners were fed according to how much work they did that day. Prisoners were expected to fulfill the tasks given to them, which reflected the amount of food he or she received. Therefore many inmates sadly died of starvation.  Often times a meal consisted of once bowl of thin soup and a chunk of bread usually without any utensils to use. As you can see, life was extremely hard for people living in the Gulags.

 

 

Most camps were normal forced labored camps, however their were other varieties. Below are some of the different types of camps that were in the Soviet Union.

 

 

Sharashka At these camps Stalin's more prominent captives were assigned to work on scientific investigations for the Soviet Union. Prisoners were often treated better in these camps.
Psikhushka The word Psikhushka is a term for a psychiatric hospital. The inmates at these camps were mostly political prisoners, and the prisoners sent to hospitals to be isolated. 
Children's Camps These camps were specifically designed solely for children and women with babies.
Atomic Bomb Program

Specific groups of people were sent  to atomic bomb test facilities on Novaya Zemlya, Vaygach Island, Semipalatinsk to mine uranium ore and prepare atomic bomb tests. It's even said they were forced to decontaminate the testing sites. These camps were especially popular after Stalin died.

 

 

 

Women in poorly heated living conditions.

 

 

Kolyma: "The Land of Gold and Death "

 

 

By far, Kolyma was probably the best known labor camp, which was once maintained by the Soviet Union.  It was located in an area today known as Siberia but, it is actually know as the Russian Far East. Kolyma was an area that contained about one hundred camps, and was approximately six times bigger than France area wise. Approximately three million people have died here, not only because of the hard work they did but, for the ice cold temperatures. At Kolyma, the temperatures drop to -90 degrees Celsius during the winter. This cruel and horrible death of the people and the fact that there were large quantities of gold in the Kolyma region was the reason why it was often called "The Land of Gold and Death." 

 

Kolyma contained mostly men, who traveled there in long trains of red boxes. These trains went to the distant areas of Siberia. After they went in the trains, they traveled in fleets of ships to the hostile arctic land. One slave ship, The Dhzurma, traveled to Kolyma. This ship once had lost a whole boatload of prisoners when she got caught in howling winds and an early frost. At some other point, her human cargo perished in a fire! Anyway, when the prisoners reached Kolyma, the army or secret police put them to work from dusk till dawn. The camp was made to control supply, maintenance and jettisoning of the slave labor. Kolyma was indeed a place you did not want to go to!

 

 

The approximate location of Kolyma.

 

 

Present day 

 

 

What if every time you made a friendly joke about President George Bush, you got sent to a Gulag for ten years? That’s how we would be living right now, if Gulags still existed. Nowadays, we are only left with museums and books to remind us and help us reflect on what dreadful events took place in these dreadful places. One example is the Gulag Museum at Perm-36,  the first exhibition on the Soviet Gulag in the United States. There are also other places that show the ruins of some of the Gulags.

 

In efforts to commemorate those who died at the well known Soviet Gulag, Kolyma, the  Russian government made a memorial to dedicate the millions who died. They called it The Mask of Sorrow. This 15 meter high statue (approximately 49 feet tall) lies on top of a hill near Magadan, Russia . The statue portrays a stone face with tears shaped like masks. On the back of the mask, a crying woman and a headless man is carved. By climbing up the stairs, (located to the right) you can see a replica of a prison cell used by Stalin's prisoners. 

 

 

 This is a picture of The Mask of Sorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Below are pictures of life in a Soviet Gulag.

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

 


Additional information

 

External links:

 

          A general overview of Soviet Gulags.

 

 

          This site talks about the book, The Gulag Archipelago which tells testimonies by actual eyewitnesses living in the Gulags.

 

 

          This website has information on Soviet Gulags.

 

 

             This article talks about many Americans who were also killed in Soviet Gulags. 

 

 

 

Gulags 

 

 


 

 

 

Comments (Show all 70)

Anonymous said

at 4:28 pm on Mar 19, 2007

Everyone, do you think the word exiled is too advanced for the average (a.k.a anyone on our team) 6th grader? Remember Mr. F became suspicious of a group who used the words vast and arctic plain, which are words I happen to know. I know we have to cater our work to those who are less advanced, but how far do we go? If we use some "challenging" vocabulary, it will teach people some harder vocabulary, however I'm trying to cut back it since it will reflect in our grade. I don't know why, but I have a sudden urge to use the word exiled. It fits and it sounds good and makes our writing more mature sounding. However, I'm hesitant about using it since Mr. F tends to think my word choice is too advanced.What do you think?

Anonymous said

at 4:51 pm on Mar 19, 2007

Kristen, I think it's ok to use the word exiled but, only if no other words fit. However, if you do use exiled, make sure you insert a link to its definition.

Anonymous said

at 5:17 pm on Mar 19, 2007

Hey guys, on the journey to a gulag section, I haven't finished it yet, and I will do so tomorrow. (By the way, I think exiled isn't too big of a word, and that we should go ahead and use it.)

Anonymous said

at 3:54 pm on Mar 20, 2007

I think we should keep the word petty in there, because I am trying to make a point about how silly the crimes were (I dont think it is such a big word.)

Anonymous said

at 4:38 pm on Mar 20, 2007

Hey guys, I don't have time to put any links to the 2nd paragraph under journey to Gulags. Do you think you guys could do that? (I might be able to find one or two when I come back)

Anonymous said

at 7:18 pm on Mar 20, 2007

I am going to change the word 'crimes' back to petty crimes, and I can add a link to it, once I change it.

Anonymous said

at 6:52 am on Mar 23, 2007

Wow!!! Im really impressed with all your content, and how good and complex it is. The only thing is, I think alot of 6th graders wont understand alot of your ideas, or words.Is there a way to maybe make it more 11-12 year old understandable? Other than that, I think your page is very intiresting, and I love that it is interactive and moving (all the pictures) lots of links, I really do lke your page. Your group works well together!,
Kathleen

Anonymous said

at 6:54 am on Mar 23, 2007

This page is the best I have ever seen. Everything is perfect and there is a huge amount of content. I love how the links go to different places. You guys have a huge vocabulary.

Anonymous said

at 6:58 am on Mar 23, 2007

WOW! I'm very surprised with all of your work done. I think you guys worked very well together. You also used the comments button well and I didn't seem to find any grammar problems ect. You guys did very well!
-Melissa Kaz

PS--Your page was so good that I used it to compare to my page!! hehe

Anonymous said

at 7:08 am on Mar 23, 2007

I thought your page was the best page on the wiki! It was full of content, it had many photos, and a Bubbleshare. There was no grammer or spelling errors that I saw, and the information on your page was easy to read and understand. It was almost like a set of notes!

Anonymous said

at 7:10 am on Mar 23, 2007

You have a lot of information and really interesting pictures. I also liked your subject lines. One thing that I would like to thank you for is your link to our page (Joseph Stalin).

Anonymous said

at 7:19 am on Mar 23, 2007

I think that your page was really good- probobly the best page in the Russian ABC book. I dont think that anyone could beat your page! I couldnt find any spelling mistakes, and i liked the way all of your links went to different places. I also liked how you put in a lot of links (123 of them). I think that you could have tried to fix the pictures, they dont work. I liked how you used the bubbleshares also. You did a very good job, and on a scale from 1-5, i think that you deserve a 5.

Anonymous said

at 7:20 am on Mar 23, 2007

PS- you also could have put less links to Josef Stalin.

Anonymous said

at 7:27 am on Mar 23, 2007

Wow your page is really good. But like Alex said you have a lot of links to the stalin page. Scale from 1-5 its a 5.

P.S.Your page is great!!

Anonymous said

at 7:28 am on Mar 23, 2007

Have I seen wiki pages before!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw absolute zero flaw. All sorts of good links, amazing use of bubble shares, just plain awsome! on a scale of 1-5 it's a 10-15! Good job guys, and i have never seen so good group work.

Anonymous said

at 7:30 am on Mar 23, 2007

Wow! Your page is the best I've seen yet. There are a lot of links and a lot of information. This page is also very descriptive, but that's a problem, too. Although it's descriptive, it might not be in kid friendly language. So I would give you a 96 or a 5 in a scale from 1-5.

Anonymous said

at 7:35 am on Mar 23, 2007

WOWWOWWOW!!! WOW! This definatly deserves an A+. Great links, there was probaly over one-hundred. Great vocabulary used. I would probably never read the whole page, because it is so overwhelming. The moving picture video type thing was very cool. But some of the pictures wouldn't appear, there was red x's instead. All in all it was an amazing page. Super job, Nicholas M.

Anonymous said

at 7:52 am on Mar 23, 2007

I have seen many many wiki pages before but all the good links, pictures, and content just blew me away. Its not all about pictures and bubbleshares to get an A it your detail and content which I believe you did a great job on. Erin F.

Anonymous said

at 8:15 am on Mar 23, 2007

Lots of info on this page but there are some pic's that aren't working and I think you need to fix that. I would give it 99 only because I would like to see those pictures that could help me understand some things.

Anonymous said

at 8:19 am on Mar 23, 2007

this was fantastic! I am so blown away! If we were to show this to the lefislate(if that is how you spell it) they would freak out. I would say I wanted to learn more about gulags but it seems like you have covered almost everything! I am so proud of you guys! PS: I thought the links to Joseph stalin were great. They are great because Joseph stalin played a big role in gulags and he should be mentioned a lot.

Anonymous said

at 8:31 am on Mar 23, 2007

You know, Guys, I don't think anyone will argue that this is an unbelieveable bit of work. You've done something remarkable here....and I'm proud of you!

Two suggestions....both echoing Nick M's comments:

1. If your pictures don't work on school computers, you probably shouldn't use them. Otherwise it looks like you've got formatting problems, right?

2. Nick said, "I would probably never read the whole page, because it is so overwhelming." Do you think that is a source of concern for you as authors? How could you fix that?

Mr. F

Anonymous said

at 8:34 am on Mar 23, 2007

WOW!!! it just blew me away.You have lots of information and detail. Hardly any spelling and grammar mistakes. You have great pictures and a vidoe at that. You also have tons of links too. All I have to say is A+. yeah keep it up!!

Anonymous said

at 8:35 am on Mar 23, 2007

Hey Michelle here, Great page. Your page is really good with great detail and elaboration. The only thing i did not like was that some of paragraphs were long it was all facts no opions etc... also some of the pictures did not work. over all it was a god page just cut done on facts give some personality.
great page,

Michelle F. :)

Anonymous said

at 8:36 am on Mar 23, 2007

there was alot that was not in kid friendly language (sorry i forgot to add to last coment)

Anonymous said

at 8:44 am on Mar 23, 2007

This was a really awsome page. I think you should deffonently get an A. I gave a nine out of ten on my grading sheet because you had awsome content and bubble shares/pictures on what you were studying. you guys had a really really good page , way better than mine.

Anonymous said

at 8:46 am on Mar 23, 2007

WOW!!! I am very impressed and I thought that this page has VERY good content and was very interesting. There were lots of good links(inside and out of wiki).The only thing I didnt really like was that some of the paragraphs were a little bit to long and I didnt want to read them. Another plus was that there were not many grammer errors iif any at all. Overall this was a very well written page!!!

Anonymous said

at 10:27 am on Mar 23, 2007

i think this page should get a 95-99 because there was alot of info but a little to much art and fart so i would give you a 95-99 good luck

Anonymous said

at 10:34 am on Mar 23, 2007

That was very impressive. All that detail, and all those pictures. I learned alot by just looking at it. Nice job

Anonymous said

at 10:37 am on Mar 23, 2007

I've never seen this kind of page before!! It really rocks out the page. You've got a lot of accurate information and lots of links. You got varieties of great words that I never knew before. You also got some bubble shares that I really like. Also, I like the video of Joseph Stalin. I wonder how you did that. But one of the weaknesess is that some of the sentences are not really in "kid-friendly language". Make sure put it in your own words. If I would give it a grade, I would give it a 95%-99%. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said

at 10:38 am on Mar 23, 2007

That page was awesome! The content was great. Ther was a lot of links in the page. I learned a lot

Anonymous said

at 10:41 am on Mar 23, 2007

That was great how did u do it. Your detail and pictures were so good. You should exhange the bad pictures to good ones like Mr F said. I would give this a 99 great work.

Anonymous said

at 10:44 am on Mar 23, 2007

If i were Mr.F I would give you a 4. Every thing was great but the only thing that I think is bad is that to much content. Sure more info is good but I had not enough time to read it all. so a 4 from me. GOOD LUCK!!!!

Anonymous said

at 10:49 am on Mar 23, 2007

wow this page was GREAT!! it had alot of content not to much art and fart and extremely nice formating

Anonymous said

at 10:56 am on Mar 23, 2007

Wow ur page is off the chain, this a an awsome page......you guys must have put a lot of effort in to this. I am just blown away by how much you guys did. You had a whole lot of information.....it would take me a long time to just read. I liked the bubbles shares and the pictures a lot too. The format of the page was very good too. Keep rock'n the wiki.

Anonymous said

at 11:05 am on Mar 23, 2007

I really like your page all I can say about it is WOW!!! You guys put in a lot of great information and links whitch ias great. I thought it was cool how you guys put in addional links great idea! I would give you guys from an 92-100. Great work!

Anonymous said

at 11:06 am on Mar 23, 2007

hey guys everybody is saying your page is good. And it is but you didn't put it in kid friendly anguage there were some spelling errrs to! but great work. id give it a high 3

Anonymous said

at 11:14 am on Mar 23, 2007

HOLY COW! I can't begin to tell you hawgo this is! I wonder how long this took you guys to do? An issue I see is that you can't see some of your pictures. i noticed that you repeated some of your information though. You have a lot of great content. I would give this a high 4! Keep it Up!
-Abbey W.

Anonymous said

at 11:19 am on Mar 23, 2007

Ok, first off this page is AMAZING! You guys worked like SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard on this page, its not even funny!!! I mean you guys have so much detail and you have lots of really cool and interesting pix. I would givethis page a 100! I think you guys deserve a 100 becuz this page is really awesome!! Good Job!

--Erin M.

Anonymous said

at 11:24 am on Mar 23, 2007

over all I belive this page is good but take out the pictures if they don't work, also try to edit the format. but other than that i belive guys did an alright job

Anonymous said

at 11:27 am on Mar 23, 2007

Malcolm H. That page gets a four because that information was amazing! There were tons of links and formatting was correct. Just take out some of the pictures that don't work and your page will get a great score.

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