Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gulags by Anthony McRae


      Long ago back in the days of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, citizens that were rebellious and engaged in explicit activities were sent to labor-intensive correctional facilities. According to leading officials of the politburo, the treasonous criminals that were sent to these isolated locations had dangerous leanings and were simply being reeducated through their hard work for Mother Russia. However, an enemy of the state by the name of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had a different opinion of the corrective labor camps that he so defiantly called gulags. He saw them as a means to silence political dissenters and exploit the masses for relatively inexpensive labor. Of course, that was all just revelutionary nonsense? Right?
      In sad truth, the gulags as Solzhenitsyn descibed were political prisons for intellectuals and free thinkers alike. They originated from the katorga which was an earlier method of penal justice through forced labor. The inmates of these camps would often times have little to no food, inadequate clothing, deteriorating health, and poorly insulated shelters. The work projects were unbearable. People died from overexhaustion almost every day. It was estimated that 14 million people passed through the Gulag from 1929 to 1953. Of these, an estimated 1.6 million died as a result of these "labor camps". If anything should be learned from this, it is that we whould never take our freedom for granted because maybe one day we could find ourselves being sent off to a "corrective labor camp" for "crimes against the state".
                                                                                                                                     -Anthony McRae

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