Mapping Modernity

5. Gulag-Slavery

23 October 2023

The Gulag, an archipelago of penal camps

The term GULAG is the official abbreviation for the network of education and labour camps established in the Soviet Union from 1930. Under Stalin, this era of terror witnessed the condemnation of millions of Soviet citizens to long periods of confinement within these camps. Over time, defeated army units were also consigned to join them in internment.

Inmates in the GULAGs were subjected to gruelling labour in appalling conditions. However, it’s important to note that the aim of the camps was not systematic extermination; in fact, 90% of the prisoners managed to survive.

R. Chapin, Gulag-Slavery, Inc, New York 1951, in: Time Magazine, September 17, 1951, Vol. LVIII, 12, News in pictures. Coll. S/T W.2v.128, 28.5 x 41.5 cm.