Khrushchev's Gulag: the Soviet Penitentiary System after Stalin's death, 1953-1964

Abstract : This articles examines what happened with the penitentiary system built under Stalin and known by the name Gulag after the death of Stalin in 1953. It concludes that the Gulag of the Thaw was a hybrid construct. The inertia of the Stalinist model was so strong that giant camps (even if renamed colonies) in remote regions remained an important part of the system, at least until 1964. Notwithstanding official insistence on prisoner reform and regionalized colonies, the penal institutions remained profit oriented, even those that had set up their own work facilities for re-education. Convict labour remained the only way to finance the penal system. Moreover, the economic and political leadership was reluctant to abandon the mobilization capacities of the camp forced-labour system. The camp paradigm was still haunting the detention system.
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Contributor : Marc Elie <>
Submitted on : Friday, September 6, 2013 - 9:02:40 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 1:48:24 AM
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Marc Elie. Khrushchev's Gulag: the Soviet Penitentiary System after Stalin's death, 1953-1964. Denis Kozlov et Eleonory Gilburd. The Thaw: Soviet Society and Culture during the 1950s and 1960s, Toronto University Press, pp.109-142, 2013, 978-1442644601. ⟨hal-00859338⟩

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