Days and Lives :: Fates

Prisoner: Anna Larina

Larina was released from the Gulag system in 1959 after Stalin’s death, ill with tuberculosis, after having spent almost twenty years of her life there. She did not see her son for 18 years. She devoted the rest of her life to clearing her husband’s name. He was finally “rehabilitated” and cleared of all charges in 1988 – fifty years after his death. In 1988, she gave a speech at a conference commemorating the hundredth anniversary of Bukharin’s birth given by the Institute of Markism-Leninism of the Communist Party Central Committee.

Introduction

Survivors of the Gulag often found their former lives torn apart and irrecoverable after leaving the camps. Released prisoners experienced discrimination and alienation making living and working difficult. Those who did survive have contributed immensely to the documentation of the Gulag's history.

Listen to the sound or read the transcript below.

Movie Transcription

Across the former Soviet Union, millions lie in anonymous graves. Whether shot in a prison basement, or killed in Gulag camps by exhaustion, starvation, malnutrition-related illness, labor accident, or the violence of fellow prisoners and guards, millions died at the hands of Soviet terror.

Telling the story of the Gulag through the eyes of its prisoners inevitably excludes the stories of those millions who died. These victims did not make it out of the camps to publish memoirs. Their stories are buried beneath the grounds of Siberia, Kazakhstan and the whole of the former Soviet Union.

Even those who survived the camps emerged traumatized and brutalized. Readjusting to life outside the camps would be a struggle. Many former inmates maintained life-long bonds with their fellow inmates after leaving the camps, and many continue to struggle to keep the Gulag’s memory alive to prevent new human rights abuses in the countries of the former Soviet Union today.