Days and Lives :: Fates

Prisoner: Anna Andreeva

Andreeva was released on August 13, 1956. Her husband Daniil Andreev was released soon afterward. His health was very poor after the camps and he soon died. Andreeva was left alone. She remarried in 1963. She spent the rest of her life introducing Daniil Andreev’s literary work to the public. She didn’t have children. “When Daniil died, I was left hopelessly sick—after a series of operations, after radiation—with unhealthy blood and with no desire to live. I don’t know how it was possible for me to stay alive, but I did. Only I had Daniil’s drafts, saved from prison. That means that God wished me to stay alive on this earth, so I could preserve everything written by my husband for another thirty years… I began a quiet, solitary life, retyped drafts, and worked a lot as an artist.”

Out of the Camp

Survivors

Millions of people did survive the Gulag. Whether among the 20–40 percent of the camp population released on a yearly basis throughout the Stalin era, or among the 2–3 million who went home after Stalin died, perhaps as many as 16 million who entered the Gulag came out alive.

But the Gulag even destroyed the lives of those who survived it. Families were torn apart when spouses were pressured to divorce their “enemy” relatives. Children were taken away from prisoner mothers, often never to be reunited again. The Gulag exacted a physical and psychological toll from which many would never recover.

Upon release from the Gulag, many inmates were denied permission to return to their former homes and were forced either to live in remote exile or to live no fewer than one hundred kilometers from the Soviet Union’s largest cities. With a notation of their imprisonment in their official identity documents, former Gulag inmates were discriminated against in employment and access to housing. Government officials, fellow citizens, and even former friends treated them as pariahs, greeting them with suspicion at best, hatred at worst.