The Gulag | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

The Gulag

“It is unthinkable in the twentieth century to fail to distinguish between what constitutes an abominable atrocity that must be prosecuted and what constitutes that “past” which “ought not to be stirred up.”

― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

This virtual museum is devoted to the history of the Gulag, the vast network of labor camps which was once scattered across the length and breadth of the Soviet Union, from the islands of the White Sea to the shores of the Black Sea, from the Arctic circle to the plains of Central Asia, from Murmansk to Vorkuta to Kazakhstan, from central Moscow to the Leningrad suburbs.

The Gulag is an exhibit of The Museum on Communism- a project of the non-profit, non-partisan Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, established by an Act of Congress on December 17, 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

 

What does Gulag mean?

The word “GULAG” is an acronym for Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration, the institution which ran the Soviet camps. But over time, the word has also come to signify the system of Soviet slave labor itself, in all its forms and varieties: labour camps, punishment camps, criminal and political camps, women’s camps, children’s camps, transit camps.Even more broadly, “Gulag” has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedures that Alexander Solzhenitsyn once called “our meat grinder”: the arrests, the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the forced labor, the destruction of families, the years spent in exile, the early and unnecessary deaths.