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19 November 2018

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The Unknown Gulag

by Lynne Viola

We well know that, before the Gulag, there was Solovki. But, as Viola shows, between Solovki and the Gulag there were the spets - poselki (special villages) built by two million peasant kulak in 1930 and 1931, after they were forcibly removed from their villages and dropped in remotest Siberia without food or shelter. Some half-amillion souls died in these deadly precursors to the Gulag, whose existence was defended as a State Secret until recently – long after the crimes of the Gulag had been well chronicled by Solzhenitsyn and others. Thank fully, there are tenacious researchers like Viola bringing such things to light, honoring the victims in a society that seems determined to forget.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: Sept/Oct 2007