Days and Lives :: Guards

Prisoner: Alexander Dolgun

“At the work site the guards often came in and walked around the shop or the welding yard or wherever we were working. They looked at us as if we were exhibits in a zoo. They were rotated from post to post frequently, and from camp to camp, to ensure that they formed no friendships with the prisoners. It would have been bad for morale if the guards discovered that we were human beings and that most of us were serving our sentences for modest offenses or for no offense at all.”

Guard Violence

Gulag guards endured their own brutal existence, and through a combination of frustration and indoctrination they frequently directed that brutality at inmates. In this videoclip, former prisoner Oleg Volkov recalls some of the violence at one of the Soviet Union’s first Gulag camps, in the Solovetsky islands.