Denial of Humanity and Forms of Enslavement in the Russian Gulag: Early Narratives of Gulag Survivors (1919–1940)

Open access


Although the foundations of the Soviet concentration camp system date back to the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War, the amplitude of human suffering in the Gulag would not be known in detail until after 1962, i.e. the year when A. Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published. But even before the start of World War II, the totalitarian Soviet universe spoke the language of oppression that public opinion in the West constantly refused to acknowledge. This paper tries to recover a neglected corpus of early autobiographical narratives depicting the absurd Soviet concentration system, in the authentic voice of a number of Gulag survivors (G. Kitchin, Tatiana Tchernavin, Vladimir Tchernavin, S. A. Malsagoff, etc.).

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Apple haum A. 2011. G idagul. O istorie. Bucharest: Humanitas.

  • Bezsonov Y. 1928. Mes vingt-six prisons et mon evasion de Solovki traduit du russe par E.

  • Semen off. Paris: Payot.

  • Bruce Lockhart. R. H 1932. Memoirs of a British Agent. London: Putnam.

  • Bufnea E. 1931. Cruciaţi tirani şi bandiţi; Vol. 1: În Rusia sovietelor. Vol. 2: În Siberia lui Kolciak. Bucureşti: Editura Tipografiile Române Unite.

  • Cederholm B.. 1929. In the Clutches of Tcheka. New York: Houghton.

  • Courtois S. et al„ 1997. Le livre noir du communisme. Crimes terreur et répression. Paris: Edition Robert Laffbnt.

  • Danzas 1. 1935. Bagne rouge: Souvenirs dune prisonnière au pays des Soviets. Juvizy: Les Édition du Cerf (Centre dominicain deludes russes).

  • De Beausobre. I. 1938. The Woman Who Could Not Die. London: Chattoand Windus.

  • Duguet R. 2004 (first edition 1927). Un bagne en Russie rouge. Paris: Balland.

  • Figes O. 2007. The Whisperers. Private Life in Stalin’s Russia. London: Penguin.

  • Gregory P. R. Lazarev V. (eds.) 2003. The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag.

  • Stanford: Hoover Institution Press - Stanford Uni versity.

  • Kalb M. L. Introduction In: Solzhenitsyn A. 1963. One Day' in The Life of ¡van Denisovich. New Yori; - London: E.P. Dutton pp. v-xii.

  • Kalpashnikoff A. 1920. A Prisoner of Trotsky's. Garden City; New York: Doubleday - Page & Company.

  • Kitchin. G. 1935. Prisoner of the OGPU. London - New York - Tornnto: Longmans.

  • Malsagoff S. A. 1926. An Island Hell: A Soviet Prison in the Far North Translated by F. H. Lyon.

  • London: A. M. Philpot LTD.

  • Marie. J. 1989. Le Goulag. Paris: PUF.

  • McCullagh F. 1922. A Prisoner of the Reds. The Story of A British Officer Captured in Siberia. New Yoric: E. P. Dutton and Company Publishers.

  • Medvedev Z. A Medvedev. R. A. 2003. The Unknown Stalin. London; New York: I. B. Taurus. Naudeau L. Five months in Moscow prisons. In Current History of the New York Times October 1919. pp. 127-36 and November 1919. pp. 318-321.

  • Naudeau L. 1920. En prison sous la terreur rouse. Paris: Librairie Hachette.

  • Rešetovskaja. N. 1995. Soljenifin. Iaşi: Mydo Center. 1995.

  • Soljeni□în A. I. 2008. Arhipelagul Gulag vol. II. Bucharest: Univers.

  • Solonevich I. 1938. Russia in Chains: A Record of Unspeakable Suffering. London: Williams and Norgate Ltd.

  • Steinberg J. 1971. Verdict of Three Decades: from the Literature of Individual Revolt against Soviet Communism: 1917-1950. Manchester: Ayer Publishing.

  • Tchemavin.T. 1934. Escape from the Soviets. New York: E. P. Dutton & CO Inc.

  • Tchemavin. V. V. 1936. I Speak for the Silent (Prisoners of the Soviets). Boston; New York; Hale: Cushman & Flint.

  • Toker L. 2000. Return from the Archipelago: Narratives of Gulag Survivors. Bloomington: Indiana Univeisity Press.

  • Tucan D. Istoria relatàrilor timpurii desprc gulagul so vieti c (1920-1950). In: Mihalache A. Cioflâncă A. (eds.) 2013. Istoria recentă altfel: perspective cultural. Iaşi: Editura Universităţii „Alexandra loan Cuza"din Iaşi 2013. pp. 61-78.

  • Tvardovsky A. Forward to A. Solzhenitsyn One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich. In: Solzhenitsyn A. 1963. One Day' in The Life of ¡van Denisovich. New York; London: E.P. Dutton pp. ii-iv.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.114
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.781

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 244 121 15
PDF Downloads 117 72 10