Wladislaw Hedeler: Forging ‘New Men’.


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2012. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 27-46.

This case study opens a new field of research, by shedding light on the little known newspapers of the Soviet “Reformatory Camps” for political and criminal prisoners, which are widely neglected in research on the Gulag. These newspapers were produced within the Gulags and the articles were mostly written by prisoners, while the administration used them above all for announcements. The newspaper of the Gulag at Karagandinsk “Putevka“*was published from 1933 until 1935 with up to 4,500 copies. The typesetting and printing was done by prisoners in a printers belonging to this Gulag. The newspaper was distributed by subscription, but also displayed on the wall in areas to which the prisoners had access. Its information was further disseminated by reading the newspapers aloud in the prisoners’ huts. Besides the Russian edition, there was also one in the Kasachian language, entitled “New Life”. For the imprisoned technicians and technical skilled workers, a special newspaper “Toward a new technology” was provided. In addition, special issues were produced during the sowing campaigns, focusing on the particular tasks of the various departments of the camps. Thus exploring these newspapers mirrors the living and working conditions in the Gulags from the perspectives of both the prisoners and the administration.

* This word was familiar to imprisoned state employees and means the administrative order for a business trip covering costs and insurance. It obviously refers ironically to their prolonged trip to the Gulag.

Über den Autor

Wladislaw Hedeler, Dr. phil., geb. 1953 in Tomsk (Russland, UdSSR), 1973–1978 Studium der Marxistisch-leninistischen Philosophie an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 1985 Promotion in Moskau. Seit 1991 Übersetzer und Publizist mit dem Forschungsschwerpunkt Geschichte der Komintern, der KPdSU und des Stalinistischen Terrors. Veröffentlichungen u.a.:

  • KARLAG. Das Karagandinsker Besserungsarbeitslager 1930–1959. Dokumente zur Geschichte des Lagers, seiner Häftlinge und Bewacher, Paderborn 2007
  • Das Grab in der Steppe. Leben im GULAG. Die Geschichte eines sowjetischen »Besserungsarbeitslagers« 1930–1959, Paderborn 2007 (mit Meinhard Stark)
  • Schwarze Pyramiden, rote Sklaven. Der Streik in Workuta im Sommer 1953. Eine dokumentierte Chronik, Leipzig 2007 (mit Horst Hennig)
  • Die Ökonomik des Terrors. Zur Organisationsgeschichte des Gulag 1939 bis 1960, Hannover 2010