Scene from the Gulag Archipelago

Scene from the Gulag Archipelago Ethics Crimes and Criminals Cold War Famous Historical Events Fiction Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Civil Rights

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a GULAG prisoner for 8 years (1945 to 1953).  His crime was saying what he thought about Joseph Stalin—then the leader of the Soviet Union—and someone overhearing (then reporting) his words.

Using his own experiences, extensive research and the stories of 227 other GULAG prisoners, Solzhenitsyn paints a sobering portrait of life as a forced laborer. 

He uses the word “archipelago” to describe how thousands of labor camps were all part of a single unit (the "Chief Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps") just like small islands can be part of a single city (Stockholm) or a nation (The Philippines). 

Using his words, in translation:

...that amazing country of Gulag which, though scattered in an archipelago geographically, was, in the psychological sense, fused into a continent - an almost invisible, almost imperceptible, country inhabited by the zek people..-

Zek—the Russian word for prisoner—is how forced-laborers were addressed in the camps.

When the Soviet secret police seized a copy of his GULAG manuscript, in August of 1973, Solzhenitsyn—who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970—had his multi-volume book published outside the Soviet Union. 

Not long thereafter, the Nobel Laureate was deported from his own country. 

Missing the land of his birth, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russie, years later, after the Soviet Union no longer existed as a unified nation.

This book-cover image depicts a scene from a forced-labor camp which was part of the GULAG. Solzhenitsyn published The Gulag Archipelago on December 28, 1973.

See, also:

Forced Labor Camps in the Gulag

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (documentary clip)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (film)

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Dec 09, 2019

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Amazon.


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"Scene from the Gulag Archipelago" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 09, 2019.
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