Fw: 3430- Former Gulag Prisoners (fwd)
soldoll at SPAMinreach.com
Tue Aug 10 12:16:19 MDT 1999
This Email is a contribution to the discussion about Stalin's crimes against
his left opposition. Many years ago I read that Walter Held, the leader of
the Trotskyists in Germany, fled to Sweden to escape from Hitler. With the
invasion of Norway he thought he might avoid detension by Germany if it
invaded Sweden. He tried to transit the USSR and disappeared into the
prisons of the GPU.
From: Alex Chis & Claudette Begin <achis at igc.apc.org>
To: sldrty-l at igc.org <sldrty-l at igc.org>
Date: Tuesday, August 10, 1999 8:20 AM
Subject: 3430- Former Gulag Prisoners (fwd)
>Johnson's Russia List
>10 August 1999
>davidjohnson at erols.com
>Former prisoners of Russia's Gulag still fight for recognition
>VORKUTA, Russia, Aug 10 (AFP) - Ten years after the last Soviet leader
>Mikhail Gorbachev pledged to reveal all about the atrocities committed by
>notorious predecessor, the victims of Josef Stalin are still fighting for
>But at Vorkuta on the Arctic Circle, centre of the network of prison camps
>made famous by Alexander Solzhenitsyn as the Gulag archipelago, memories of
>the Stalin era are fading fast.
>The numbers of ex-prisoners who survived hard labour in the Vorkuta mines
>from the beginning of the 1930s after being arbitrarily condemned as
>traitors, Trotskyites and other "enemies of the people" are shrinking.
>The association Memorial, founded in March 1991, just before the break-up
>the Soviet Union, has the self-appointed task of establishing the
>truth of Stalin's crimes and their recognition as crimes against humanity.
>According to Memorial some 200,000 prisoners, known as zeks, died in the
>camps surrounding Vorkuta, out of more than two million deported between
>"The mortality rate of Vorkuta was not high because the aim was not to
>liquidate the prisoners but use them as cheap labour in the mines,"
>Vitaly Troshin, the president of Memorial.
>But tens of thousands of others died building the railway line to Vorkuta,
>and it is said that bones can still be found along the tracks.
>Some 50,000 foreigners have been identified of the most diverse
>nationalities, including a black American, among those buried here.
>Tens of thousands of Poles were sent to Vorkuta after half of their country
>came under Soviet rule following the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, along with
>residents of the Baltic states annexed by Moscow in 1940.
>Other inmates were many Russians who made the mistake of being captured
>during the conflicts with Finland and in World War II. Immediately suspect,
>they were despatched to the camps on their release.
>Each pit had its corresponding camp, now replaced by a mining village. But
>despite the remains of the barbed wire, many of today's miners do not know
>that hundreds of their predecessors lie buried close to their workplace,
>"It's all in the past," said Vorkuta's mayor Igor Shpektor. "There's a new
>generation which does not even know about World War II, and is anyway more
>concerned with the problems of modern life."
>The camps and Stalinist repression "carry no political weight at the
>a local journalist commented.
>Living history remains in the shape of residents like Olga Petrovna, 89,
>was sentenced to ten years in the mines and on the railway in 1938. At the
>end of her sentence, she chose to remain in Vorkuta rather than return to
>native Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg.
>"When the old generation has gone, the young won't bother about all this,"
>Troshin, 52, the son of a victim of Stalinism and an architect by
>has decided to concentrate Memorial's efforts on the children of Vorkuta
>He would like to organise summer camps for teenagers from other parts of
>Russia, combining leisure activities such as fishing, hunting and
>berry-picking with showing what remains of the dark side of Russia's
>"Someone with no history has no future either," he said.
>* Alex Chis Books *
>* Alex Chis & Claudette Begin *
>* P.O. Box 2944 *
>* Fremont, CA 94536 *
>* 510-489-8554 *
>* achis at igc.apc.org *
>* www.abebooks.com/home/ALEXCHIS/ *
>* www.bibliocity.com/home/alexchis *
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