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The First Guidebook to Prisons and Concentration Camps of the Soviet Union Paperback – April, 1982
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The author describes a world of watchtowers manned by guards bearing machine guns, and electrically charged barbed-wire fences; he portrays prisoners in columns or transport vehicles, prisoners attacked by dogs, prisoners in camp uniforms with numbers across their chests, women prisoners, child and teenage prisoners (p. 3). These are people persecuted for thinking differently; reading "forbidden" philosophical, political or religious books; posting notices; raising a flag; demanding religious instruction for their children; or undertaking a private commercial initiative (pp. 3-4). Such were the "crimes" for which millions of Soviet citizens were savagely punished.
Perhaps the most distressing part of this work is the very first section, which lists 119 prisons and concentration camps built specifically for women and children (pp. 14-22): a picture of inmates at Orel, a camp with 3,000 children, contains a sign with the words "Honest work: the road home to the family," an obvious parallel with the Nazi slogan "Work shall set you free" ("Arbeit macht frei") (p. 16).Read more ›
This comprehensive catalogue, based upon the author's experiences as well as eyewitness accounts, lists thousands of detention facilities, according to city, town, and region, in the USSR. The facilities are located not only in remote areas of the Soviet Union, but also population centers, including the seized Polish city of Lvov (Lwow, Lviv). (p. 80).
Many of the conditions of incarceration in Soviet camps are no better than they were in the days of Stalin. For instance, in the notorious logging camps, prisoners toil long hours in 40 or 50 below Celsius weather. Owing to their meager and unbalanced diet, they experience scurvy (p. 167), if not avitaminosis.
It has been argued that there were no death camps under the Communist system comparable to the Nazi death camps--to which admission guaranteed death. There certainly were, even in the 1970's. (e. g., p. 31-on, 73, 228, 266, 269, 285). These include the camps where poorly protected or unprotected workers dealt with uranium, facing very close to 100% mortality. Interestingly, one "ordinary" camp had a phrase praising work as a means of freedom--chillingly reminiscent of the ARBEIT MACHT FREI sign at Auschwitz. (p. 10).
Non-criminal prisoners are housed with common criminals (p. 88). They often face abuse, some organized by the prison staff, from the latter.Read more ›