[Marxism] Berries // Varlam Shalamov

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 25 17:33:31 MDT 2018

A short story by Variam Shalamov


Background on Shalamov:

“Shalamov’s experience in the camps was longer and more bitter than my 
own,” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago. “I 
respectfully confess that to him and not me it was given to touch those 
depths of bestiality and despair toward which life in the camps dragged 
us all.”

Varlam Shalamov was a decade older than Solzhenitsyn. Born in Vologda in 
1907, he was arrested for the first time in Moscow, in 1929, for seeking 
to distribute copies of “Lenin’s Testament”—a document that called for 
Stalin’s removal as General Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central 
Committee. Sentenced to three years’ hard labor, he ended up in a camp 
in the Urals. In 1932, he returned to Moscow, where he wrote and worked 
as a journalist. Then, at the height of Stalin’s purges, in 1937, he was 
arrested again, for “counter-revolutionary Trotskyite activities.” This 
time, Shalamov ended up in Magadan, the Siberian city that served as an 
entry point for forced labor camps in the Kolyma region—camps in which 
millions of men, women, and children starved, froze to death, were 
worked to death, or were murdered outright. He remained in Kolyma until 
1953, slaving away in its gold mines, coal mines, and lumber camps 
before landing a series of jobs in camp hospitals that made it possible 
to survive.

 From Bookforum (behind a paywall)

NY Times obit: 

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