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Stalin's Gulag As 'Ivan Denisovich' Would Have Seen It

It's been 50 years since the publication in 1962 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich," a grim tale of imprisonment that laid bare for the first time the extent of Stalinist repression in the Soviet Gulag. A sprawling and lethal network of labor camps, the Gulag served as the Soviet regime's main tool of political repression and source of free labor, devastating millions of lives from 1917 to 1960. The author drew on his own eight years in prison for anti-Soviet propaganda, including as prisoner #282 at a special camp for political prisoners at Ekibastuz. But conditions throughout the network were brutal by design. (18 PHOTOS)

Barracks at the Panyshevsky camp
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Barracks at the Panyshevsky camp

A map of the U.S.S.R. with Gulag camp locations marked
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A map of the U.S.S.R. with Gulag camp locations marked

A subdivision of Ozerny Labor Camp No. 7 in 1951
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A subdivision of Ozerny Labor Camp No. 7 in 1951

Female prisoners in overcrowded, poorly heated barracks (undated)
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Female prisoners in overcrowded, poorly heated barracks (undated)

Eating utensils recovered on an expedition to former Gulag sites (undated)
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Eating utensils recovered on an expedition to former Gulag sites (undated)

Female prisoners work with shovels and wheelbarrows at an excavation site at Belomorkanal in 1932.
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Female prisoners work with shovels and wheelbarrows at an excavation site at Belomorkanal in 1932.

Shock workers and officials from the Belomorkanal camp visiting a forest in Vaidai in 1932, posing in front of a banner that read: "Labor in the U.S.S.R. is a matter of Honor, Glory, Valor, and Heroism."
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Shock workers and officials from the Belomorkanal camp visiting a forest in Vaidai in 1932, posing in front of a banner that read: "Labor in the U.S.S.R. is a matter of Honor, Glory, Valor, and Heroism."

Prisoners gathered after a speech by the head of the Belomorkanal camp in 1932
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Prisoners gathered after a speech by the head of the Belomorkanal camp in 1932

Prisoners in the sewing workshop at Belomorkanal camp in 1932
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Prisoners in the sewing workshop at Belomorkanal camp in 1932

A Gulag prisoner's padded jacket, with identification numbers visible on the back
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A Gulag prisoner's padded jacket, with identification numbers visible on the back

Two men exit a paddy wagon designed to look like a delivery truck. (undated)
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Two men exit a paddy wagon designed to look like a delivery truck. (undated)

Prisoners eat lunch at the Bamlag camp in 1933.
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Prisoners eat lunch at the Bamlag camp in 1933.

Prisoners work on construction of the North Pechora Railway. (undated)
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Prisoners work on construction of the North Pechora Railway. (undated)

Patient-inmates in the infirmary at the Belomorkanal camp in 1932
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Patient-inmates in the infirmary at the Belomorkanal camp in 1932

Convicts work on timber at Ozerlag, one of the largest Stalin-era concentration camps, in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. (undated)
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Convicts work on timber at Ozerlag, one of the largest Stalin-era concentration camps, in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. (undated)

Labor Camp No. 125 in Vorkuta in 1946
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Labor Camp No. 125 in Vorkuta in 1946

The Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp, known as Karlag, was among the largest of the Gulag camps. Seen in 1955, it was operated like a state farm and housed some 800,000 prisoners throughout its existence.
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The Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp, known as Karlag, was among the largest of the Gulag camps. Seen in 1955, it was operated like a state farm and housed some 800,000 prisoners throughout its existence.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his prison garb at Ekibastuz around 1953
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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his prison garb at Ekibastuz around 1953

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