Days and Lives :: Fates

Prisoner: Boris Chetverikov

Chetverikov was rehabilitated in 1956. He continued his literary activity and died on March 17, 1981. “It is still important to describe lived experience, to show clearly that a man of firm convictions will not bend or switch sides in any circumstances…. I was rehabilitated, and I came out of all these trials the same Soviet person as I was before. And, however odd that sounds, in some way these years enriched me, I became wiser, reached a deeper understanding of life. To the very bottom of it.”

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.

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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.