GULAG was Not Something Far Away in Siberia: It was All Around Even in Moscow
October 29 – Today, Russians of good will paused to remember those who had
suffered and died in Stalin’s GULAG. This commemoration took many forms but one
of the most significant risks being lost: a new map of “The GULAG in Moscow”
shows that Stalin’s camps and torture places were not somewhere far away as
some imagine but everywhere.
Moscow alone, the map shows there were 190 GULAG facilities. There were 174
forced labor locations, 121 sharashkas where imprisoned scientists were forced
to work for the state, and 27 sites listed under the category “concentration
camps and houses of arrest.” (For the map, see topos.memo.ru/.)
maps which are only beginning to be prepared are important for two reasons. On
the one hand, they are a reminder of the fact that the GULAG wasn’t some
distant phenomenon which many people could easily ignore if they just went
about their business but rather something embedded in their lives regardless of
where they lived.
on the other, they suggest that just as the prisons were nearby, so too were
the investigators, the sham courts, and the jailors.They too were part of the ordinary scene of
life in Stalin’s Soviet Union – and just as some of the victims and their
descendants have survived, so too have many of them.
the new geography of the GULAG is essential for all those who want to know what
has happened in that part of the world and for those who want to make sure that
it doesn’t return. Its evil was not secreted away; it was everywhere. And those
who seek to deny or justify it do not have a leg to stand on.