Synopses & Reviews
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