Evidence from numerous studies of Gulag survivors suggests that the consequences of the Gulag did not end with its closing under Gorbachev, nor was its influence limited to its prisoners. The Gulag pervaded daily Soviet life because it could ensnare almost anyone. Post-Soviet Russia is still mired in an entrenched culture of repression, which has long included — and continues to include — repressing the memory of Stalinist repression.
This lecture will present a selection of narratives gathered through interviews and from archives in the course of various research projects, conducted since 1989. Each illustrates the usefulness and the challenges of personal accounts in reconstructing or representing experience, and each offers a different understanding of the repression. Through careful examination of how the survivors remember, represent and/or re-conceptualize the terror in their testimonies, we can begin to understand more about the dynamics of repression, survival, and meaning-making.
Nanci Adler is Professor of Memory, History, and Transitional Justice at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and the University of Amsterdam. She has authored and/or edited several works, including Keeping Faith with the Party: Communist Believers Return from the Gulag (2012), The Gulag Survivor (2002), Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of the Memorial Movement (1993), Understanding the Age of Transitional Justice (2018), (co-edited with A. Weiss-Wendt) The Future of the Soviet Past: The Politics of Memory in Putin’s Russia (2021), and numerous scholarly articles on the consequences of Stalinism. Adler serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute and the Journal of Genocide Research, and was 2022 Chair of the Academic Working Group of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Her current research focuses on the organization Memorial, transitional justice, oral history and eyewitness testimony, and the legacy of Communism.
Moderation: Professorin Dr. Margit Bussmann