Gulag History Online

The largest penal system in human history–the Gulag–is fast disappearing from the physical landscape. Of all of the many camps that dotted the maps of the Soviet Union, only Perm 36 survives largely as it was before 1991. The rest of the Gulag complex has been torn down, scavenged for scrap metal and building materials, or left to decay in isolated regions of Siberia now accessible only by helicopter.

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, the Gulag Museum at Perm 36, and the International Memorial Society (and several other partners) have collaborated on a new new website: Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives.

This project explores the history of the Soviet Gulag through bilingual exhibits (English and Russian), an archive of primary sources, a series of podcasts, and other resources. Exhibits are presented with a thematic approach that illustrates the diversity of the Gulag experience through original mini-documentaries, images, and the words of individual prisoners. A searchable archive includes archival documents, photographs, paintings, drawings, and oral histories that give visitors the opportunity to explore the subject in much greater depth. Later this summer, Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives will also feature a virtual visit to the Gulag Museum at Perm 36.

This site will be a real boon to teachers trying to introduce the Gulag to their students and, I think, will also be of interest to the general public.