From October Revolution to Gulag
For Lenin’s Bolshevist party, the revolution was an unavoidable act of violent social reorganization: a “proletarian dictatorship” was to clear the way for a new, humane society. Following the Bolshevik victory in 1917, however, the repressions became ever more rampant, and the better society remained an unfulfilled promise.
Clearly defined stereotypes of the “enemy” and the persecution of “opponents to Soviet power” were the first milestones on the way to the Gulag system. The emergence of the latter was not inevitable, but took place gradually as the result of various political decisions over the course of about a decade. It was the Stalinist reformation of Soviet society that finally created the camp cosmos referred to as the “Gulag Archipelago” – the name coined by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.