Origins Of The Gulag: The Soviet Prison Camp System, 1917-1934

Front Cover
University Press of Kentucky, Jan 13, 2015 - History - 192 pages
0 Reviews

A vast network of prison camps was an essential part of the Stalinist system. Conditions in the camps were brutal, life expectancy short. At their peak, they housed millions, and hardly an individual in the Soviet Union remained untouched by their tentacles. Michael Jakobson's is the first study to examine the most crucial period in the history of the camps: from the October Revolution of 1917, when the tsarist prison system was destroyed to October 1934, when all places of confinement were consolidated under one agency -- the infamous GULAG.

The prison camps served the Soviet government in many ways: to isolate opponents and frighten the population into submission, to increase labor productivity through the arrest of "inefficient" workers, and to provide labor for factories, mines, lumbering, and construction projects.

Jakobson focuses on the structure and interrelations of prison agencies, the Bolshevik views of crime and punishment and inmate reeducation, and prison self-sufficiency. He also describes how political conditions and competition among prison agencies contributed to an unprecedented expansion of the system. Finally, he disputes the official claim of 1931 that the system was profitable -- a claim long accepted by former inmates and Western researchers and used to explain the proliferation of the camps and their population.

Did Marxism or the Bolshevik Revolution or Leninism inexorably lead to the GULAG system? Were its origins truly evil or merely banal? Jakobson's important book probes the official record to cast new light on a system that for a time supported but ultimately helped destroy the now fallen Soviet colossus.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

Origins of the gulag: the Soviet prison camp system, 1917-1934

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Jakobson (history, Univ. of Toledo) has made a valuable contribution to early Soviet scholarship with this study of the development of the Gulag system. He traces the history of the prison ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Imperial Russian Prison System
10
2 The Bolshevik Judicial System 19171922
18
3 The NKIUs Rise to Power
27
4 Reeducation versus Financial SelfSufficiency
53
5 The NKVD Monopoly 19221930
70
6 The NKIUs Last Chance 19301932
91
7 The CUITU under Siege 19321934
103
8 The CPUOCPU Places of Confinement 19221928
111
9 The OGPU during Collectivization and Industrialization
119
Conclusion
139
Appendix The Major Agencies in Brief
146
Notes
152
Index
169
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2015)

Michael Jakobson is assistant professor of history at the University of Toledo.

Bibliographic information