The artist Thomas Sgovio (1916–1997) created a series of drawings and paintings, which are now in the Hoover Archives, based on memories of his life as a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag.
Sgovio’s father, Joseph, an Italian radical immigrant to the United States, was deported as a communist agitator in 1935 and moved his family to Moscow. In 1937 Joseph was arrested by the Soviet authorities and spent 11 years in a labor camp (he died shortly after his release in 1948). In 1938 Thomas Sgovio was arrested by Stalin’s secret police as he was leaving the U.S. embassy in Moscow, where he had applied to return to the United States. He spent the following 16 years in the Kolyma forced-labor camp in northern Siberia and in exile in the Soviet Far East; he did not succeed in leaving the Soviet Union until 1960, when he emigrated to the United States.