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Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The searing accounts of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Evgeniia Ginsberg and Varlam Shalamov opened the world's eyes to the terrors of the Soviet Gulag. But not until now has there been a memoir of life inside the camps written from the perspective of an actual employee of the Secret police.

In this riveting memoir, superbly translated by Deborah Kaple, Fyodor Mochulsky describes being sent to work as a boss at the forced labor camp of Pechorlag in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle. Only twenty-two years old, he had but a vague idea of the true nature of the Gulag. What he discovered was a world of unimaginable suffering and death, a world where men were starved, beaten, worked to death, or simply executed. Mochulsky details the horrific conditions in the camps and the challenges facing all those involved, from prisoners to guards. He depicts the power struggles within the camps between the secret police and the communist party, between the political prisoners (most of whom had been arrested for the generic crime of "counter-revolutionary activities") and the criminal convicts. And because Mochulsky writes of what he witnessed with the detachment of the engineer that he was, readers can easily understand how a system that destroyed millions of lives could be run by ordinary Soviet citizens who believed they were advancing the cause of socialism.

Mochulsky remained a communist party member his entire life--he would later become a diplomat--but was deeply troubled by the gap between socialist theory and the Soviet reality of slave labor and mass murder. This unprecedented memoir takes readers into that reality and sheds new light on one of the most harrowing tragedies of the 20th century.

About the Author

Fyodor Vasilevich Mochulsky (1918-1999) was a foreman and boss at Pechorlag GULAG NKVD from 1940-1946.

Deborah Kaple is Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. She is the author of Dream of a Red Factory: The Legacy of High Stalinism in China (OUP, 1994).

Table of Contents

Introduction by Deborah Kaple

Preface by Fyodor Mochulsky

Part 1: Gulag from the Outside

Chapter 1. The NKVD: Villain or Protector?

Chapter 2. First Acquaintance with Gulag NKVD: Meeting at the Central Committee of the CPSU

Chapter 3. Meeting in the Cadres Department of Gulag NKVD

Chapter 4. 45 Days to Pechorlag

Part 2: Gulag from the Inside

Chapter 5. At the Construction Administration

Chapter 6. Unit Foreman. First Contingent of Prisoners: Soviet Volunteer Ski Troops in the Finnish War

Chapter 7. The Unit Bosses

Chapter 8. A Change in Leadership at Pechorlag

Chapter 9. Transferred to the 93rd Unit. Labor Force: Hardened Criminals

Chapter 10. Attempted Prisoner Revolt in the 93rd Unit

Chapter 11. Boss and Foreman at the 93rd Unit. Labor Force: Political Prisoners

Chapter. 12. Threat of Arrest

Chapter 13. The War

Chapter 14. Illness

Chapter 15. Recovery and Return to Work in the Southern Part of the Camp

Chapter 16. Boss of a Militarized Section. Labor Force: Captured German Prisoners of War

Chapter 17. Boss of a Railway Division. Labor Force: Professional Railwaymen

Chapter 18. The "Liberated" Secretary of the Communist Youth Organization

Chapter 19. Fascist Military Landing Force

Chapter 20. Deputy Boss in the Political Department for Komsomol Work at the NKVD's Road Building Camp No. 3

Part 3: Interesting Asides

Chapter 21. Some Railroad Recollections

Chapter 22. Peschanka, a Village of De-Kulakized People on the River Pechora

Chapter 23. The Countryside of Komi on the River Usa

Chapter 24. Women at Pechorlag

Chapter 25. A Fellow Traveler from Abez to Pechora

Part 4: Final Words

Chapter 26. The End of My Story

Chapter 27. The Real Essence of the Gulag

Afterword: The Nature of Memoir

Appendix 1: Pretexts for Arrest during the Stalin Period

Appendix 2: Article 58 of the RSFSR Criminal Code

Appendix 3: Glossary


Selected Bibliography

Product Details

Mochulsky, Fyodor Vasilevich
Oxford University Press, USA
Kaple, Deborah
Kaple, Deborah
dor Vasilevich
null, Fyodor Vasilevich
null, Deborah
Mochulsky, Fyo
Europe - Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Eastern Europe - General
Modern - 20th Century
Russia (pre & post Soviet Union)
History, World | Russia
Former Soviet Union
History, World | Russia & Former Soviet Union
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
17 halftones, 4 maps
5.7 x 8.3 x 1 in 0.95 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Crime » Prisons and Prisoners
History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
History and Social Science » Russia » Soviet Union
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe
History and Social Science » World History » Russia

Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir New Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199742660 Reviews:
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