No one knows exactly how many Soviet citizens met unnatural deaths during the quarter-century that Stalin wielded absolute power, but adding together those who were sentenced to death and shot, died in manmade famines, or were worked to death in gulag camps like these, authoritative estimates put the total at approximately 20 million. Like the other great horror show unfolding in German-occupied Europe in the same period, the Soviet story was one of mass deaths on an almost unimaginable scale. But, unlike the Nazis, the Soviets, in their first two decades in power, were partly sustained by great idealism on the part of people all over the world who were fervently hoping for a more just society. The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis is a poignant reminder of this. For his account of the Stalin years and their aftermath is seen through an unusual prism: the experience of tens of thousands of Americans who emigrated to the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Many of them, like the Russians they lived among, fell victim. Bits and pieces of this story have been told before, mainly in survivors’ memoirs. But to my knowledge this is the first comprehensive history, and a sad and fascinating one it is.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Depression Era Americans in the Gulag
Posted by Nick