Russia: Gulag history museum publishes graphic novel about horrors of Soviet forced-labour camps

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Gulag history museum in Moscow recently published a comic about the horrors that took place in the Soviet forced-labour camps during the 1930s to 1950s and led to the death of more than 1.5 million people, as shown by footage shot Monday.

The museum’s creative manager Sergei Kozhevnikov explained that telling stories about Gulags in a comic format requires “careful approach”.

“There are two types of haters. The first consider comics as an impropriate format for stories like this, for telling about tragic events. Others do not accept these historical facts,” he said.

Kozhevnikov added that the graphic novel’s yellow colour was chosen in order not to darken the story, and because it “refers to the colour of hope. This is the colour of the sun.”

The protagonists of the comics series are ordinary people, whose lives have already been presented in an exhibition of the Gulag history museum.

One of the graphic novel’s heroes is a young girl whose parents were shot in one of the camps, the museum’s director Roman Romanov said.

“Until recently, she thought that her mother passed away somewhere in the camp. Just recently while working on our exhibition, we requested the information from the department archives and received documents confirming that her mother was shot, that she didn’t stay in camps,” said the director.

“After she saw the exhibition and her own story, she said that she understood that she had survived precisely to tell her story, that her experience and her fate are connected with her survival,” Romanov added.

According to the Gulag museum, a quarter of young Russians do not know anything about the Soviet camps.

Gulags were a network of forced-labour camps, which existed in the Soviet Union from 1930s to 1950s. At least 18 million people, including numerous political prisoners during Stalin’s Purge, went through the brutal system over the years. According to various estimations, between 1.5 and 1.7 million people were executed or died due to unbearable working conditions at the Gulag camps.

Video ID: 20190416-018
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