The Truth About Stalin’s Prison CampsHistorians in the News
tags: Communism, documentaries, Soviet Union, GULAG, Josef Stalin
Vera Golubeva spent more than six years in one of Joseph Stalin’s gulag camps. Her crime? “To this day, I still don’t know,” she says.
In a new documentary from Coda Story, Golubeva remembers the excruciating details of her imprisonment. When she was arrested, along with her father, mother, and sister, Golubeva was taken to KGB headquarters and tortured. She was eight months pregnant. “I felt as if they were burying me alive,” she says in the film. Shortly before being transferred to a labor camp, Golubeva gave birth to a baby boy, who died just days later while in the care of KGB agents. “It was the worst cruelty,” she says.
From 1918 to 1987, Soviet Russia operated a network of hundreds of prison camps that held up to 10,000 people each. When Stalin launched his infamous purges in 1936, millions of so-called political prisoners were arrested and transported to the gulags without trial. The first wave of prisoners were military and government officials; later, ordinary citizens—especially intellectuals, doctors, writers, artists, and scientists—were arrested ex nihilo. At the camps, many prisoners were executed or died from overwork and malnutrition. The death rate often hovered around 5 percent, although in years of widespread famine, the mortality rate could be as high as 25 percent. Historians estimate that as part of the gulag, Soviet authorities imprisoned or executed about 25 million people.
comments powered by Disqus
- Studying History Should not be Only for the Elite, Say Academics
- How Malcolm X Inspired John Coltrane to Embrace Islamic Spirituality
- Connecticut Professor Sends Controversial Anti-1619 Project Email Blast to Public School Superintendents
- France Battles Over Whether to "Cancel" or Celebrate Napoleon
- West Virginia Univ. Researcher Wins Carnegie Award for Study of Appalachian Feminism