Women of the Gulag featured in Tablet Magazine

Friday, January 17, 2014
Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives by Hoover fellow Paul Gre
Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives by Hoover fellow Paul Gre

Cultural correspondent Vladislav Davidzon featured Hoover fellow Paul Gregory’s  Women of the Gulag: Stories of Five Remarkable Lives and Gregory and Marianna Yarovskaya’s documentary film of the same name in the January 8 edition of Tablet Magazine. Titled “Women of the Gulag: From Stalin to Pussy Riot,” Davidzon characterizes the book and film as a “new history and film [to] remind amnesiac Russia of the individual lives shattered and disfigured by Stalinist oppression.” Davidzon proffers Women of the Gulag as a potent antidote to Russia’s “state-sponsored shameful ignorance” by “recounting the stories of individual lives [destroyed] by the Gulag.”

Davidzon emphasizes that the time is running out in which to tell these stories: “Now, as the last witnesses and victims of organized state violence are entering the twilight of their lives, we are presented with what may be a final opportunity to correct the widely held misconception that the vast majority of the system’s inmates were ‘politicals’ (in any sense of that term) or members of the elite. The average Gulag inmate was an ordinary worker taken into custody on spurious charges such as sabotage after the NKVD chief in Moscow had signed off on the latest directive for the month’s arrest quotas from the provinces.”

Davidzon praises the women featured in the book and documentary as “a remarkable testament to human endurance and resilience…. It is hard not to feel that the inability of contemporary Russian society to remember its repressed and mangled kin is directly related to the authoritarian direction it is now taking.”