Remembering ‘Gulag Archipelago’ 50 Years On

( – Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of the original Russian edition of the first two parts of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago.”

In a column at the Federalist, writer G.W. Thielman commemorated the anniversary of the work that exposed the West to the inhumanity of the Soviet regime.

According to Thielman, before its publication, the West only had glimpses of what the Soviets were like, primarily from those who made it out. But even then, the voices of survivors were often drowned out by pro-Soviet apologists who defended the USSR’s coercion.

With the publication of “The Gulag Archipelago,” Thielman wrote that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn succeeded in pulling back the curtain and forcing the West’s progressive elite to see the truth about their socialist utopia, namely that it was “a cruel and barbaric sham.”

The word “gulag,” which is now been adopted in the English language, is, in reality, a shortening of a Russian term that translates to English as General Authority on Internment and Detention.

The group is made up of prison and labor camps throughout Russia, as well as Kazakhstan and Ukraine, where millions of people from the Soviet Union’s various ethnic republics were placed.

Solzhenitsyn, who dedicated “The Gulag Archipelago” to “all those who did not live to tell it,” used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the penal camps where the enemies of the Soviet Union were punished for their “thought crimes,” generally under the Russian Federation’s Article 58/Section 10 of the penal code.

Solzhenitsyn was arrested in 1945 after making derogatory comments about Josef Stalin in a personal letter. He was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp located in Kazakhstan. Upon his release, he was exiled within the Soviet Union.

In 1958, two years after his exile ended, Solzhenitsyn began working on “The Gulag Archipelago,” completing it in 1967.

After the first two parts were published in 1973, the third and fourth parts were released in 1975 followed by parts five, six, and seven in 1976.

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