Companion volume to the exhibition
"Gulag: Traces and Testimonies 1929-1956"

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For decades, memoirs represented the only reliable source on the history of the Stalinist camp system. Particularly Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Yevgenia Ginzburg's Journey into the Whirlwind shaped our image of the Soviet Union's penal camp system, which Solzhenitsyn's book title The Gulag Archipelago reduced to a single concise term. The acronym Gulag now no longer referred merely to the so-called Chief Administration of Camps (Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagerey) - in reality the administration of a persecution apparatus - but to the persecution system of the Stalinist penal camp and the inhumanity of political repression in the Soviet Union as a whole.

The state of knowledge about the Gulag has expanded significantly over the past twenty years, thanks not least of all to the activities of the "Memorial" Society. Since the late 1980s, "Memorial" has collected thousands of memoirs and travelled to former camp sites to obtain hundreds of objects. The exhibition "Gulag: Traces and Testimonies 1929-1956" is the first to show these remains of the Soviet camp system in Germany. With the aid of reports by former camp inmates, the objects and documents are contextualized in the history of the Gulag. Flanked by a review of the camps' historical background in the Russian civil war and their aftermath in the suppressed memories of the Gulag after 1956, the show presents a sombre panorama of the Stalinist penal camp system. In the process, it delineates the specific characteristics of this system - in and of themselves, and in contradistinction to those of other camp systems of the twentieth century.

The volume documents the Gulag with the aid of significant objects, and presents hitherto unknown historical photos and documents. The biographies of former camp inmates moreover provide an overview of the wide range of fates suffered under persecution. Supplementary scholarly articles by Nicolas Werth and Irina Sherbakova shed light on the international research into the history of the Gulag and describe the activities and collections of the "Memorial" Society.

Publisher Wallstein Verlag Göttingen
Length 155 pages w/ over 150 colour and b/w ill., 90 pages exhibition presentation, 30 pages with two scholarly contributions by Nicolas Werth and Irina Sherbakova
Format Paperback, with flaps, thread stitching
Price € 14.90
ISBN 978-3-8353-1050-6

The companion volume can be ordered via the Onlineshop of the Buchenwald Memorial.

Audio file for the exhibition (in German only)

Introduction in the exhibition GULag.