Nikolai Getman - To the Kolyma Forced Labor Camp

Nikolai Getman - Artistic Work Civil Rights History Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Visual Arts Ethics

At the age of 28, Nikolai Getman boards a ship at Vanino.  From there, he—and many, many others—will travel to the Kolyma labor camps. 

When Nikolai arrives at Vanino, the port is already ice-bound.  This means he is able to live in a transit camp until spring, when the water is once-again navigable (and another ship could get him to the more-northern port of Magadan). Getman always believes that event helped him to survive the awful ordeal he was about to endure for many years.

Nickolai has named the ships in his self-portrait.  They are the names of actual vessels which transported people to a life of misery in the forced-labor camps (where slave laborers built the Kolyma Road, among other things). 

The freight train, which we also see in the background, was the method by which people from other areas of the USSR made their way to Kolyma

Forced laborers sang a song of misery which Nikolai memorializes.  Look for the words on the gangway.  Translated into English, they are:

I remember the Vanino port
The morose drone of the steamships
As we climbed aboard
Into the cold and forbidding ship’s hold...

Nikolai’s original oil-on-canvas, entitled “I Remember the Port in Vanino,” measures 42.3 x 29.2 inches.  He entrusted its care to the Jamestown Foundation.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5156stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 15, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Mar 15, 2017

Media Credits

Image, described above, online courtesy Jamestown Foundation.


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"Nikolai Getman - To the Kolyma Forced Labor Camp" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 15, 2017. Jun 23, 2018.
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