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
. Written between 1958 and 1968 (dates given at the end of the book), it was published in the West in 1973, thereafter circulating in samizdat
(underground publication) form in the Soviet Union until its official publication in 1989.
GULag or Gulág is an acronym for the Russian term G
, the camp system itself.
I dedicate this to all those who did not live to tell it. And may they please forgive me for not having seen it all nor remembered it all, for not having divined all of it.
For years, I have with a reluctant heart withheld from publication this already completed book: my obligation to those still living outweighed my obligation to the dead. But now that State Security has seized the book anyway, I have no alternative but to publish it immediately.
We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely that hackneyed dotted line they have chosen to drive into our memories by incessant hammering.
In 1944, investigator, proud of his faultless logic [...] told Babitsh: "Investigation and the process are merely juridical figaration, that can't change your destiny, which has been determined before. If it is necessary to shoot you, you'll be shot, even if you're completely innocent."
In 1946, a special rule by plenum of Supreme Court of the USSR (July 12, 1946, nr. 8/5/u) was necessary: "On the possibility of exercising punishment only on those persons, who have committed a certain crime." But this was freely bypassed.
In his instructions on the use of Red Terror, the Chekist M. I. Latsis wrote: "In the interrogation do not seek evidence and proof that the person accused acted in word or deed against Soviet power. The first questions should be: What is his class, what is his origin, what is his education and upbringing? [There is your Sapropelite Committee for you!] These are the questions which must determine the fate of the accused."
Six geologists got Article_58_%28RSFSR_Penal_Code%29Summary|§58-7, everyone ten years, for "deliberate hiding (!-for not discovering!) of a lead deposit for the sake of German arrival"
In the winter of 1934, the agronomists of Pskovsk oblast sowed flax on the snow — exactly as Trofim Lysenko|Lysenko had ordered. The seeds expanded, grew mouldy and died. The vast fields stayed empty throughout the year. Lysenko of course couldn't call the snow a Kulak|kulak or himself an idiot. He accused the agronomists of being kulaks and distorting his technology. And the agronomists were sent to Siberia.