Day By Day

Friday, February 25, 2005

Now This Really Bums Me Out

CNN Reports:

Official says hundreds of U.S. citizens likely died in gulags

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. military service members may have been imprisoned and died in Soviet forced-labor camps during the 20th century, according to a Pentagon report to be released Friday.

Researchers for the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs have been investigating unconfirmed reports of Americans who were held prisoner in the so-called gulags.

"I personally would be comfortable saying that the number [of Americans held in the gulags during the Cold War and Korean War] is in the hundreds," said Norman Kass, executive secretary of the commission's U.S. section.

Read the whole thing here.

I remember vividly one day in 1968 I sat in a room in Bamberg, Germany and started to read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich while waiting for some friends. We had planned to go out to our favorite gasthaus in the old town, but by the time they arrived I was transfixed. I begged off the evening and stayed there reading straight through the night. The horror of what Solzhenitsyn described has stayed with me ever since and was only magnified by reading his Gulag Archipelago some years later. This story brought it all back to me. How anyone in the west could idealize or accept such a system, comparable in its horror to the Nazi death camps, was beyond me then, and still is, yet many in academia did so. It is one of the, now many, reasons I could never become a man of the left. Anyone interested in the subject of the gulag should read Anne Applebaum's Pulitzer Prize winning, Gulag: A History.

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