Image: Women of the Gulag film poster. Fair use.
During the course of three decades, Joseph Stalin’s Gulag, a vast network of forced labor camps and settlements, held many millions of prisoners. People in every corner of the Soviet Union lived in daily terror of imprisonment and execution. In researching the surviving threads of memoirs and oral reminiscences of five women victimized by the Gulag, author Paul R. Gregory has stitched together a collection of stories from the female perspective, a view in short supply. Capturing the fear, paranoia, and unbearable hardship that were hallmarks of Stalin’s Great Terror, Gregory relates the stories of five women from different social strata and regions in vivid prose, from their pre-Gulag lives, through their struggles to survive in the repressive atmosphere of the late 1930s and early 1940s, to the difficulties facing the four who survived as they adjusted to life after the Gulag. These firsthand accounts illustrate how even the wrong word could become a crime against the state. The book begins with a synopsis of Stalin’s rise to power, the roots of the Gulag, and the scheming and plotting that led to and persisted in one of the bloodiest, most egregious dictatorships of the 20th century.- Amazon
Marianna Yarovskaya, filmmaker, in re: Women of the Gulag. Six elderly women who were teenagers when the disastrous events occurred. On Oct 18 and Oct 22, the film will be screened at the Hong Kong Film Festival. VisibleRecord.com The film was shown at the Moscow Intl Film Festival, and brought one survivor, who was able to walk. Two more remain, blind, one paralyzed. The attendee got five minutes of standing ovation. Then it was shown on Rossiya ___ TV, and Aeroflot will show the longer version starting in November. In the gulags, women were worked as hard as the men, were brutalized. In a timber camp, one woman said that if she didn’t haul back a tree she got no dinner. “Women in the camps were slaves of slaves.” No family is unaffected. Not on YouTube, but we’re selling DVDs to universities and schools. Will screen it in London next year. In the US, it’ll show at the UN Intl Festival at Stanford on October 22, several days hence. Screenings in Croatia and elsewhere. I attended a festival in South Korea – North Korean camps are carbon copies of what Stalin camps were [and note that until extremely recently, North Koreans were sold en masse by the Kim family to slave-labor timbering camps in Siberia —ed.]; in South Korea we got an audience award.
Marianna Yarovskaya is an award-winning Russian-American documentary filmmaker who is the director and producer of the 2018 Academy Award short-listed documentary film, Women of the Gulag based on the book, Women of the Gulag: Stories of Five Remarkable Lives, by Paul Roderick Gregory.