A new cultural center dedicated to the victims of the Soviet labor camps and prisons for those with “wrong” political views is set to open in the Russian capital. The initiative has come from the Moscow Mayor.
According to the newly-introduced head of the capital’s Culture Department, Sergey Kapkov, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency, the city has already allocated a 3,000 square meters venue for the new museum.
He mentioned that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s widow would be helping the new establishment as a curator. The Nobel Prize winner, writer and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dedicated most of his life to raise awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet forced labor camp system. His best known literary creation The Gulag Archipelago, which took him 10 years to write, is based on Solzhenitsyn’s personal experience.
What Moscow has today is a small (300 square meters) Gulag History Museum in central Moscow. Founded in 2001 by historian Anton Antonov-Ovseenko, whose own fate took him and his family through the mute horrors of Stalin’s repressions. This museum has long-remained the only museum of its kind in Russia.
Its collection reveals the cruel antihuman nature of Gulag in photographs, letters and memoires, archive documents, personal belongings of those who went through the labor camps and works of art dedicated to the theme. However, such a painful chapter of Russian history, which in some way touched every living Russian family with its cold iron hand, deserves much more than the 300 square meters of space.
Gulag represents the institution responsible for the system of labor camps, correctional facilities and places of imprisonment. Operating from 1936 through 1960, it filled these horrible placed with hundreds of thousands of innocent people relentlessly persecuted out of the dictator’s fear of treason and dissent. The Soviet Gulag labor prison camp system left over a million people dead.