Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
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06-05-2017, 02:34 PM
Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
I recall when Alexander Solzhenitzyn's book came out and he arrived in the US, all the fuss about it and my initial reaction was that this was a great man, a great author, but I had no desire to read his book.

A few months ago, I eventually succumbed and picked up a copy at the local library and sat down to read it. After the first few chapters I had to put it down because I had an overwhelming sensation that the book didn't ring true. I was wondering if anyone else had the same feeling about it. The reason I say this is that he goes on and on about very insignificant people he met telling him story after story about how they had been arrested, wrongly, because some relative had done something relatively trivial which had given away that they were dissidents. Typically, the detainee would be made to stand in knee deep water for three days or hung upside down by their toes, or have their testicles crushed repeatedly or some other equally horrific punishment would be inflicted on them.

But, Al, who was caught communicating across enemy lines was arrested and, shock of horrors, was left in a room by himself for a few hours, before being put on a train. I realized after a while that all the stories of truly eye-watering torture were second hand tales with no corroboration, while he wasn't tortured at all. One would think that when a 23 year old grocer's assistant whose uncle sneezed inappropriately as politburo member was passing by was racked, a serving army officer who was, in fact, anti-Soviet, would have been harshly dealt with. Apparently not.

There are a lot of Russians living near us now and what I realize is they are all devout Orthodox Christians. I hadn't realized that this religion survived quite successfully through the Soviet era and none of these people seem any different in outlook than Westerners. None of them seem to have anything bad to say about their or their families' experiences or have anything bad to say about their lives back home and they all think Putin is a great guy. It's most peculiar.

I don't doubt Al was locked up in a Gulag but I just couldn't finish the book because it just seemed like a work of a propagandist, not that I am a fan of the Soviets or Russia.
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06-05-2017, 02:40 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
You are a special kind of stupid, aren't you?

I know people who have been to labour camps in Bulgaria which were not nearly as bad as those in Russia, and the stories are horrible.

I guess Primo Levi's books are also the work of a "propagandist""?

Facepalm

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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06-05-2017, 03:25 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
(06-05-2017 02:34 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  I don't doubt Al was locked up in a Gulag but I just couldn't finish the book because it just seemed like a work of a propagandist, not that I am a fan of the Soviets or Russia.

That's on the same lines as saying Eugen Kogon was a propagandist when he described his years in the German concentration camp of Buchenwald.

Both give personal accounts of how they experienced the horrors. Both accounts are, of course, subjective, but both accounts are about well documented historical facts. Millions of people perished in both the German as well as the Soviet camps.

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06-05-2017, 04:53 PM (This post was last modified: 06-05-2017 05:02 PM by Vera.)
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
Is this lady a propagandist, too?

I'm fucking tired of uneducated Westerners trying to diminish the horrific crimes of communism and all the suffering and pain it caused in the world. Just because they didn't have gas chambers, doesn't make them any better than the Nazis, nor are all those "revolutionaries" heroes.

""They'd undress the prisoner and tie him up for the mosquitoes and that was worse than any torture instrument."

Lyudmila added that one young man, enslaved on the railway because of his politically incorrect poetry, was stripped naked and tormented in this way after he refused to give the names of some prisoners who had escaped.

A 16-year-old girl, whose mother had died and whose father returned wounded from the front, was desperate to feed her four younger siblings. When she was caught stealing half a sack of beetroots she too was sent off to build the railway.
"She got 10 years hard labour for that supposedly political crime," explains Lyudmila, "but what did it have to do with politics?"

Lyudmila has many such stories. At the Salekhard museum where she used to be the director and now a retired senior researcher, she shows me a picture of a young woman with dimpled cheeks and curly brown hair. Nadezhda Kukushina was a book-keeper at a state enterprise in Ukraine. When rats got into the safe and chewed up some banknotes, she was accused of embezzlement and sent to work on the railway.

Other prisoners had already endured German prisoner-of-war camps. When they eventually returned home to the Soviet Union, the authorities branded them traitors and sent them to the Arctic."


“The Gulag was conceived in order to transform human matter into a docile, exhausted, ill-smelling mass of individuals living only for themselves and thinking of nothing else but how to appease the constant torture of hunger, living in the instant, concerned with nothing apart from evading kicks, cold and ill treatment.”

"Each time they brought in the soup... it made us all want to cry. We were ready to cry for fear that the soup would be thin. And when a miracle occurred and the soup was thick we couldn’t believe it and ate it as slowly as possible. But even with thick soup in a warm stomach there remained a sucking pain; we’d been hungry for too long. All human emotions—love, friendship, envy, concern for one’s fellow man, compassion, longing for fame, honesty—had left us with the flesh that had melted from our bodies...“

“Ration.” Prisoners in the Gulag received food according to how much work they did. A full ration barely provided enough food for survival. If a prisoner did not fulfill his daily work quota, he received even less food. If a prisoner consistently failed to fulfill his work quotas, he would slowly starve to death.

Goners were extremely emaciated prisoners on the verge of death from starvation. Their presence constantly reminded prisoners of their potential fate if they failed to fulfill work quotas and thus were deprived of their full food rations.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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06-05-2017, 05:05 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
Solzhenitsyn was a very important writer who helps us understand the importance and heroism of the individual who perseveres through horrendous tyranny. Because he's such an iconic voice and has relayed to humanity so much about a very dark time and place it's hard to imagine you're simply criticizing him as an artist. We know unequivocally that countless lives were lost and destroyed and millions experienced unimaginable injustices. Can each individual story be accounted for? No. But to call his work into question like you have makes me think you must have an alternative agenda. What are you up to with this?
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06-05-2017, 05:10 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
And really, what's the fucking point of calling him "Al"? Have some respect. He earned it.
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06-05-2017, 05:55 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
(06-05-2017 05:05 PM)ImFred Wrote:  What are you up to with this?

My guess is provocation for provocation's sake.

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06-05-2017, 06:51 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
Ah yes... the formidable Solzhenitzyn troll. I fall for it every time. Actually, though I was thinking either that or he (I'll spare the women here gender neutrality in this case) has a communist agenda and wants to defend Leninism. Like he was so put off by the Gulag Archipeligo that he refused to put up with it any longer. Offended by this outlandish propaganda! I know there's all kinds out there and I'm one of them, but you start off with some credibility, a thread about Solzhenitsyn, and then it turns out to be the most ignorant take possible. Sorry to the OP for being so blunt if you're not trolling or working an angle. If it's your honest impression then I'll try to say more respectfully that you have completely missed the mark.
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06-05-2017, 09:33 PM
Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
Try reading "How the Steel Was Tempered" or "History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks): Short Course". They may be more to your taste.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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06-05-2017, 09:44 PM
RE: Gulag Archipeligo - truth or propaganda?
(06-05-2017 09:33 PM)Szuchow Wrote:  Try reading "How the Steel Was Tempered"
[Image: giggle.gif]

Oh god, that was a big thing in Bulgaria as well (never read it, needless to say), but quote the name quite a bit in conversation.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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