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Drawing of Dokhodiaga (Goner)

Drawing of Dokhodiaga (Goner)

Goners were extremely emaciated prisoners on the verge of death from starvation. Their presence constantly reminded prisoners of their potential fate if they failed to fulfill work quotas and thus were deprived of their full food rations. Drawing by Evfrosiniia Kersnovskaia, former Gulag prisoner.

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Prisoners' Daily Bread Ration

Prisoners' Daily Bread Ration

Gulag prisoners’ daily bread ration.

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Varlam Shalamov

Varlam Shalamov

Russian author who was imprisoned in the Gulag for more than 20 years. He wrote the celebrated Kolyma Tales, a series of short stories based on his life in the Gulag.

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Prisoners' Eating Utensils

Prisoners' Eating Utensils

Prisoners in the Gulag received food according to how much work they did. A full ration barely provided enough food for survival. If a prisoner did not fulfill his daily work quota, he received even less food. If a prisoner consistently failed to fulfill his work quotas, he would slowly starve to death.

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Camp Jacket

Coat and Camp Jacket

Typical winter overcoat worn by most of the Soviet population in the 1930s through 1950s. The coat is very similar to the type provided to Gulag prisoners. The second image is a camp jacket of a maximum security prisoner.

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Drawing of a soup ration in the gulag

Soup Ration

Paika. “Ration.” Prisoners in the Gulag received food according to how much work they did. A full ration barely provided enough food for survival. If a prisoner did not fulfill his daily work quota, he received even less food. If a prisoner consistently failed to fulfill his work quotas, he would slowly starve to death.

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Odinochka (Solitary Confinement Cell)

Odinochka (Solitary Confinement Cell)

Jacques Rossi, the artist who made the following drawing in the 1960s based on his memories, spent 19 years in the Gulag after he was arrested in the Stalin purges of 1936-37. He later published several writings, including his most important, The Gulag Handbook, in 1987 (published in English in 1989).

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Baraki (Barracks)

Baraki (Barracks)

Jacques Rossi, the artist who made the following drawing in the 1960s based on his memories, spent 19 years in the Gulag after he was arrested in the Stalin purges of 1936-37. He later published several writings, including his most important, The Gulag Handbook, in 1987 (published in English in 1989).

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Layout of Barracks

Layout of Barracks

During their non-working hours, prisoners typically lived in a camp zone surrounded by a fence or barbed wire, overlooked by armed guards in watch towers. The zone contained a number of overcrowded, stinking, poorly-heated barracks. Life in a camp zone was brutal and violent. Prisoners competed for access to all of life’s necessities, and violence among the prisoners was commonplace.

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