The goal of this project is to educate Americans about the important history of the Soviet Union’s notorious forced labor camp system and its impact on Russia and the world today. This vast network of labor camps, which at its height imprisoned or internally exiled over 5 million citizens, both repressed any political opposition to the state and provided labor to fuel the Soviet Union’s economic engine. Dismayingly, this history remains largely unknown to most Americans despite the internationally acclaimed works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and more recent revelatory studies, such as Anne Applebaum’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Gulag: A History. Understanding and confronting this painful past is essential for all peoples of the former Soviet Union and for Americans as well. How we address this history of repression will determine the future of civil society in Russia today and throughout the world.
The exhibit features archival footage, re-creation of a prison camp cell, prisoner artwork, maps, historic photographs, and artifacts depicting daily camp life. At each of the host venues, related programming will be offered.