Volume 51, No.3 - Fall 2005
Editor of this issue: M. G. Slavënas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 2005 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


Latgale Research Center

Part II to be continued in the Lituanus Winter issue of 2005.
Part II. Baltic Prisoners of the Gulag Revolts of 1953

The GULAG as a Historical Subject

The story of the Gulag is an immense topic. The written record of this vast slave-labor network is incomplete. More information about the Gulag’s past is now starting to appear, but there are still great gaps in its history.

The problem begins with the lack of clarity about the Gulag itself. It was a hidden system. We only have approximate estimates of the size of the Gulag and the number of its prisoners. The Russian researcher Galina Ivanovna says:

to date, Russian historians have discovered and described 476 camps that existed at different times on the territory of the USSR. It is well known that practically every one of them had several branches, many of which were quite large. In addition to the large numbers of camps, there were no less than 2,000 colonies. It would be virtually impossible to reflect the entire mass of Gulag facilities on a map that would also account for the various times of their existence.1

The term “GULAG” is merely the Soviet acronym forthe Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps, but the word “Gulag” has come to represent the entire Soviet prison and camp system. The Gulag’s origins date to 1919 under Lenin. The first camp was Solovki, where prisoners were first sent in 1920. The GULAG as an administrative body itself was created in 1930. It was part of the OGPU (the Unified State Political Administration), the name for the secret police in the 1920s and 1930s.2 The regime kept the Gulag a secret and even denied its existence.3 It used the term “corrective labor camps” as a camouflage and euphemism.

The Gulag economy was massive, comprising at least twenty branches of industry. A very important responsibility was construction: “forced labor was used on practically all of the large-scale construction projects of the Stalin years.”4 Perhaps even more important was the mining of raw materials and the secret development of atomic weapons.

The topic of Gulag unrest and revolts is also largely an unknown and hidden topic. We only have sketchy accounts of the revolts. Even the best accounts are fragments of the full story. The historical literature on the uprisings at present is very unsatisfactory and in need of much work.5

The presence of Baltic nationals throughout the Gulag is also a significant topic. Since 1990, significant work has been done on this question. This study is an attempt to describe one aspect of the history of Baltic forced laborers in the Gulag – namely the extent of their participation in the great uprisings in the Gulag in 1953.


1953 was a remarkable year in the history of the Gulag. That year the Soviet leadership was faced by major rebellions at three camp complexes: Karaganda, Vorkuta and Norilsk. These dramatic revolts, the details and scope of which are still not well known, shook the foundation of the Soviet system. These events have special importance to the Baltic States because many Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians were imprisoned in these camps and because Baltic nationals took a prominent part in the revolts. Baltic prisoners were also among the casualties when the revolts were brutally suppressed.

The revolts were staged by prisoners, unjustly arrested and sentenced to slave labor in the Gulag. They were from many different nationalities. Demanding better conditions and fair treatment, they refused to work until conditions improved. Their decision to strike threatened the basis of the Stalinist economy, which relied heavily on slave labor. The Norilsk complex produced nickel, platinum and many other highly valued metals. The Vorkuta mines provided one-twelfth of the entire coal production of the USSR and the entire supply for Leningrad. Karaganda produced coal and copper, as well as other valuable resources for the Soviet system.

The historic significance of the revolts, half a century after their occurrence and fifteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Communist system, is considered by both experts and participants to be of great significance. Survivors of the revolts regard them as a clear sign of the long-standing internal opposition to the Soviet Communist system. The scholar William Pederson refers to the Norilsk uprising as the first major revolt of the inmate movement that swept through the Soviet labor-camp system from 1952 to 1954.6 John Noble, an American who survived the Vorkuta uprising, called it the “Great Vorkuta Slave Rebellion.”7 Janis Zile, a Latvian participant in the Vorkuta revolt, said that it proved that the prisoners were able to unite against an “inhumane system.”8 Solzhenitsyn viewed it as a sign that the Stalinist camp system, particularly in the special camps, was nearing a crisis. While he was the first to point this out based on fragmentary information, two decades later, scholars like Marta Craveri and Oleg Khlevniuk have confirmed his analysis of a crisis in the Gulag.9

The protests by the prisoners, like other such events in Soviet history, were met by brutal force and bloodshed directly ordered by the highest Soviet officials. Those responsible for the killing of unarmed prisoners include some of the most prominent members of the Soviet legal, police and military

What follows is a narrative of the role of Baltic peoples in these events. This study describes the extent of Baltic population in the Gulag, the interrelationships of Baltic prisoners, the role of Baltic nationals in the uprisings, and the impact of the suppression of revolts on Baltic people in the Gulag. Also included is a survey of the influence of religion and the work of priests and ministers in these camps.

The world learned of the revolts chiefly from surviving prisoners who reached the West. The initial story of the revolts comes from the accounts of prisoners of Baltic and other nationalities. These include Janis Simsons, a Latvian; John Noble, an American; and Josef Scholmer, a German, to name a few. Also important was Adolfs Silde’s remarkable account, The Profits of Slavery, which was based on interviews of returning prisoners, mostly Germans. Subsequent accounts by survivors – including Eduard Buca, a Pole, and Y. Hritsyiak, a Ukrainian – added more detail to the story.

New information has recently become available through more systematic research and collection. In the past ten years, there has been a dedicated effort by organizations in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – as well as in Germany, Poland, the Ukraine and Italy – to document the experiences of their nationals in the Gulag.10 These new accounts have corroborated the essential version of the earlier accounts, while adding more detail to make the story more complete. In all three Baltic countries more accounts by former Baltic prisoners have been recently collected and published. They have been very useful in describing important aspects of Gulag life. In Russia – since the fall of Communism – for the first time articles and books on the Gulag have appeared, but these are private efforts; and the Russian government has chosen to avoid both the history of the Gulag and punishment of those responsible for the crimes.

The research in this study is based on the memoirs of these survivors, both Baltic and non-Baltic nationals, as well as on new documents that are now available. It is also founded on the author’s interviews with various survivors, including the Latvian prisoner Valentins Ozolins, and two Catholic priests, the Latvian Viktors Pentjuss and the Lithuanian Francis Raèiûnas.

Baltic Nationals in the Gulag

The first large group of Baltic nationals was sent to the Gulag in 1941, after the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic States. Among them were military officers from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, most of whom were sent to Norilsk. This was the beginning of the arrest and deportation of Baltic nationals for the purpose of forced labor. They were among other non-Russian nationalities of the western USSR, including Poles, Belorussians, and Ukrainians who also suffered this fate. They were sent to the Gulag primarily because the need for labor in the Gulag system had become greater in wartime. After the war, the demand for labor was still great, and in certain enterprises, such as atomic weapons development and other secret research, it was of utmost importance. 11

Many Lithuanians and other Balts were imprisoned throughout the vast expanse of the Gulag. There were heavy concentrations of them across the entire northern part of European Russia including the Komi Republic camps of Kotlas, Ukhta, Inta and Pechora that approach and surround Vorkuta. They came in both the first deportation in 1941 and in the later deportations. They were made to work in timbering and railroad construction, then for settlement construction along the railroad. For example, 3,000 Lithuanians were brought to Kotlas in 1941. Others were in the Abez-Inta group about 150 to 200 miles west of Vorkuta (coal mining, timbering, industrial prospecting for oil). Other Balts were forced to the Ust-Ukhta group near Vorkuta, with about 30 camps, and the Ust-Vym complex of 22 stations on the Vologda-Kotlas-Ukhta railroad line. There were more in large-scale lumber transport on the Vym and Vchedga rivers. The Pechora area had many camps in a region of dense forests. Pechora also contained a transit prison that sent laborers to many sites, including Kozhva, Ukhta, and Vorkuta.

With the second Soviet occupation of the Baltic States at the end of World War II, a great number of Baltic citizens were forced into the Gulag. This continued through the early 1950s, when another large group of Baltic nationals were brought to these camps. These were young, patriotic Baltic citizens, members of anti-Soviet partisan groups from all three Baltic states. They, along with all of the Balts in the Gulag, were treated as political prisoners sentenced under the comprehensive Article 58 of the USSR criminal code. This statute had a broad category of alleged political crimes, such as “betrayal of the fatherland.”12 In the camps, they were all considered politicals, but the Soviet state did not recognize political offenses. Instead, their actions were labeled “counterrevolutionary crimes” or “dangerous state crimes.”

There was a conspicuous lack of legality to these arrests, imprisonments and deportations. The basic problem was the application of Soviet Law to occupied countries and the refusal of both the occupied peoples and the international community to recognize their incorporation. Under international law, deportation of a population in an occupied territory is forbidden. But even aside from this issue, there was a lack of regular judicial process or proof of guilt beyond the assertion of the secret police. Some prisoners, like the Latvian Miervaldis Ravis, were actually put on trial in the place of deportation itself. The trial took place before a special threeperson military tribunal in the trial hall in Vorkuta. Ravis had no lawyer because “criminals under Article 58 are not expected to have lawyers represent them.” Ravis reported: “the Vorkuta military prosecutor had authorized my arrest, based on the USSR criminal code Article 58, for ‘military betrayal of the fatherland’.”13 The Latvian Valentins Ozolins, sentenced to 25 years when he was a 19-year-old soldier in the Latvian military, said that he was tried on the basis of testimony by someone who had never met him. Many of the imprisoned were sent without any trial or legal proceeding other than an MVD directive or tribunal decision made in absentia.

There were cases where Baltic prisoners had been sentenced to death but not executed because of the need for labor in the camps. Such was the case of 500 Courland division officers whose death sentences were commuted when they were sent to work in the Gulag.


When the Communist prison system began in 1919, the prisoners were sent to camps under the rubric of “corrective labor.” In April 1943, a Soviet ukaz reestablished the concept of katorga – a particularly harsh regime camp (KTR). The term comes from the classical Greek word for galley slaves rowing their ships. These KTR camps were located in remote areas. The tsarist katorga was abolished by the Provisional Government in 1917. It was now applied to grave crimes, e.g., “betraying the Motherland,” but in reality lesser crimes were classified as such offenses as well.

The Special Regime Camps of the GULAG

In early 1948, Stalin gave the MVD secret instructions to create a new category of harsh camps. These were “special” forced labor camps, Spetslag, with especially strict regimes for political (counterrevolutionary) prisoners. Although located on the grounds of existing Gulag camps, they were separate and isolated. They had their own administration, which was answerable to its own authority in Moscow, and had their own special MGB guards. All prisoners in the KTR were transferred to these special camps, where the prisoners worked at especially difficult sites and tasks.

Although it may be hard to imagine, the conditions in these camps were even more severe than the existing camps, which were already inhumanely brutal. A particularly good account of the special regime horror is given by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Volume III of The Gulag Archipelago. In the chapter entitled “Chains, Chains, Chains,” he tells how people were worked to death or simply shot or punished at the whim of a guard. Sick prisoners lacked adequate shoes or clothing. Inmates had to fill a daily work quota to get meager food rations. They were crowded in filthy barracks. In the notorious Spassk camp (part of Steplag) sixty prisoners dieddaily in summer while one hundred died daily in winter, according to the tally of Estonians who worked in its morgue.14 Prisoners were allowed to receive only two letters a year; but even this was not the norm, since most prisoners were not given their mail, which was censored and at times destroyed or simply not delivered by the censors.

There were ten such special regime camps. Created in 1948, they existed until the late 1950s (some even lasted until 1960). Their identity was disguised by innocuous names that reflected their topographic location. Their location was secret. They were:

Berlag: “shore camp,” the special camp of the Kolyma - Magadan area (Dalstroi). Dubrovlag: “leafy grove camp,” in Mordovia with its administrative center at Potma. Gorlag: “mountain camp,” created within the Norilsk complex. Peschanlag: “sand camp,” located in Karaganda area, Kazakhstan, included Ekibastusz. Rechlag: “river camp,” in the territory of Vorkuta, Komi Republic. Minlag: “mineral camp” Inta, in the Komi Republic. Steplag: “steppe camp,” area of Karaganda, Kazakhstan (Dzezhkazgan). Luglag: “meadow camp,” in Karaganda area, Kazakhstan. Ozerlag: “lakeshore camp,” (Irkutsk-Lake Baikal), set up within Taishet. Kamyshlag: “reed camp” was added in 1951, ”a secret designation” for one of the special camps in the Kemerovo area of Siberia.

Ukrainian and Baltic nationals made up 40 percent of the population of these camps.

The Karaganda Camps

The Karaganda region, located in Kazakhstan, held a vast number of camps. The town of Karaganda was founded in 1929. It grew so rapidly so that by the 1950s it was the second largest city in Kazakhstan. There were four special regime camps in Kazakhstan: Peschanlag, Steplag, Luglag, and Kamyshlag. Peschanlag consisted of a large complex, both in the immediate Karaganda area and beyond. It had very rich coal resources. The Karaganda coal basin – part of the Kuznets coal kombinat – occupies an area of 1,250 square miles and has many shafts. But part of the camp complex from the start was agricultural in nature. Other camps in the immediate Karaganda area included: Spassk (20 miles south), Dolinka, Dubovka (16 miles west), Aktas (8 miles west) and Dzhumabek. Large numbers of Balts were in all the camps. The first Baltic prisoners arrived in 1941, but after World War II they came in large numbers.

Origins and Development of the Norilsk Camp Complex

Norilsk is the site of one of the richest mineral areas in the world. It holds raw materials of great economic, industrial and military value, including nickel, copper, cobalt, titanium, platinum, and palladium. The region contains nineteen elements on the Periodic Table. It is located above the Arctic Circle on the right bank of the Yenisey River. Developed and sustained by slave labor it became one of the most valuable Gulag sites for the Soviet state It was, in the words of historian Ainars Bambals: “the mother of peoples, the native place of many nationalities and peoples, and the place of torment, degradation and murder.”15 In 1953, the entire Norilsk region was shaken by a prison uprising.

The Norilsk labor camp originated in 1936. It was a corrective labor camp from the very start, with the administrative center in Norilsk and a transit camp 60 kilometers west of Dudinka on the Yenisey. The complex came to be known as Norillag. By 1940, the enterprise had grown to twelve camps of varying size with more than 27,000 prisoners.

The complex proceeded to grow in size, but much of the work was still done by primitive means. The second in command, Bulygin, said in a meeting in 1940, “We cannot build the complex with horses. We lack mechanization. We work like they worked 4,000 years ago in Assyria and Babylonia.”16 The prisoners were transported via barges on the Yenisey river to Dudinka, from where they marched by foot to the camps. This was a most brutal and horrific method of transport – not only did the imprisoned suffer immensely but many died in transit.

Working conditions in the frozen northern tundra were immensely difficult. The NKVD was notorious for starting projects without adequate study, preparation, equipment or clothing – in the worst climatic conditions on earth! This resulted in great human loss and economic waste. To dig in the frozen soil, prisoners had to use pickaxes heated in a bonfire but could still only penetrate a few centimeters into the frozen earth; the work results were meager and required extraordinary effort. If the quota was not met, the prisoners did not get fed.17

After 1939, the composition of Norillag changed as the number of criminal prisoners decreased in proportion to the political prisoners, who became the majority of the slave labor force. The newcomers came from the newly acquired regions of Soviet expansion: Western Ukraine, Poland, White Russia and Finland and the Baltic states. There were all types of “political prisoners” – people accused of being “Kirov assassins, murderer-doctors, agents of imperialism” as well as those allegedly implicated in other “conspiracies” fabricated by Stalin’s underlings.

The outbreak of World War II caused conditions in the camp to worsen. Released workers were prevented from leaving until the end of the war. The workday was extended by several hours, while the food ration was reduced. Many prisoners had no contact with families, because the mail did not arrive from the German-occupied territories.18

The complex contained the Dudinka-Norilsk railroad maintenance unit, a copper factory, a nickel plant, a polymetallurgical factory, a large mechanical factory, construction units, many laboratories, geological expeditions, collective farms, and a central hospital as well as local camp hospital units. It had its own thermoelectric station, which was a separate camp unit. Many of these enterprises required educated people with good technical knowledge, which included the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian military officers deported in 1941, as well as Baltic intelligentsia deported later.

When the MVD initiated its “special strict regime” forced-labor camps in the spring of 1948, such a camp system, Gorlag, was created here. In 1952, Norilsk officially had 68,489 prisoners of whom 20,1067 were in Gorlag.19 However, the Norilsk complex was larger. Rossi reports that by the late 1950s it had about 100,000.20 Plus, the above figures do not include the related camp complexes of Dudinka, Igarka, Dikson, Severnaya Zemlya and Kharpich. Georg Csikos, a Hungarian prisoner in Norilsk, learned from a veteran of the Dudinka transit camps that in the 1940s, in only four years, half a million zeks (prisoners) had passed through the transit area on the way to these camps.21

Vorkuta: Origins and Background

Vorkuta was a complex of forced-labor camps, comprising an area of 31 square miles in the Komi Soviet Republic. It was one of the harshest and most notorious camps in the Soviet Gulag. It is in the extreme northern part of European Russia at the foot of the Urals, 40 kilometers northwest of the mountain range. Located in the polar zone, 160 kilometers north of the Arctic circle, it lies just 90 kilometers from the Arctic Ocean. The average winter temperature is –40 C, while the summer lasts just six weeks.

It is an historically inaccessible region that previously had a sparse population of nomads. The camp was founded in 1931 for the purpose of extracting coal. The first prisoners were brought in sleds from Archangelsk. A railway built by slave laborers was finished in the late 1930s. Until 1940, when horses were first brought in, all wagons were pulled by humans. Only slave labor made it possible to develop the natural resources. A former prisoner has described it as “a mill of human bones.”22

The Vorkuta complex in the 1950s consisted of about fifty camps, most of which were coal mines. It had a special regime section exclusively for political prisoners called Rechlag, which consisted of seventeen divisions. Vorkuta was under the jurisdiction of the Soviet coal mining kombinat known as Vorkutugol, a state business that operated in conjunction with the MVD and the Soviet coal industry. Vorkuta is a prime example of how the Stalinist system had created a Soviet economy dependent on slave labor. The Vorkuta mines produced one-twelfth of the entire coal production of the USSR and the entire supply for Leningrad. They were crucial to other Soviet industrial centers as well.

The prisoners at Vorkuta represented dozens of different nationalities with an estimated total prison population of about 200,000. There were people from at least ninety nations. Since the late 1940s, the Ukrainians were the largest single nationality, comprising nearly 50 percent. The next largest group were the Balts, who made up about 30 percent. The prisoners worked chiefly in the coal mines, but many were also assigned to work in support facilities, including brick factories, power plants, railroad lines, construction units, food transportation, prison help teams, and hospitals. The brick kiln plants had a high concentration of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian women. There was an electric power plant and a disciplinary camp (62nd), both of which had many prisoners from the Baltic states.23

The Number of Baltic Prisoners in the Camps

Determining the exact number of prisoners in the Gulag is very difficult because of the confusing, complicated and at times unreliable records of the GULAG bureaucracy. Efforts are now being made by researchers to provide more accurate numbers, but so far the new data are not definitive. There were various categories of prisoners and prison complexes. There were regular Gulag inmates, both criminal and political; there were special regime inmates; there were people deported to colonies; and there were the so-called “free workers,” – prisoners released from Gulag camps but not free to return home. They either settled in the area or were forced to relocate to other regions. Also, there was “the atomic Gulag,” a super-secret network of forced labor camps for atomic research and uranium mining supplied by the MVD.24 The number of prisoners in the atomic Gulag can only be estimated at present.

Baltic nationals were incarcerated in the Gulag in far greater proportion than other nationalities. The researcher J. Otto Pohl says that “in the early 1950s Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians continued to be over-represented in the Gulag system. The overwhelming majority of prisoners from these nationalities were incarcerated in camps rather than colonies. This is because they were considered more dangerous than other groups.”25 Here are figures for Baltic prisoners in selected periods and certain camp categories.

The number of Baltic prisoners in the Gulag ITLs (corrective labor camps) was as follows:

                     Latvians     Lithuanians     Estonians
    1941             4,870              2,781            2,781
    1946           12,302            11,361            9,01726

By 1951, the number of Baltic nationals in the Gulag had increased even more27:

                        Camps         Colonies         Total   Percentage
    Latvians         21,689             6,831       28,520             1.13
    Lithuanians    35,773             7,243       43,016             1.70
    Estonians      18,185             6,433       24,618             0.97

In 1953, there were 218,142 people imprisoned in the special camps. Ukrainian and Baltic nationals comprised 40 percent of the population of these camps (87,794) while Russian political opponents represented about one percent (Trotskyites, Bukharin, S-Rs and Whites).

In Rechlag (Vorkuta) in 1953, there were 37,067 prisoners: 33,265 men and 3,802 women. Almost one-third were sentenced to terms of 25 years. Balts constituted a significant part of the population. Together with the Ukrainians, they comprised almost 50%.28 The Lithuanians were the largest Baltic group. There were 10,495 Ukrainians, 2,935 Lithuanians, 1,521 Estonians, and 1,075 Latvians. But the entire Vorkuta complex was far larger, holding more than 200,000 prisoners. The exact number of Lithuanians in the Karaganda, Norilsk and Vorkuta complexes in 1953 is difficult to determine. In addition to the above figures for Baltic citizens in the corrective labor camps and special regime camps of the Gulag, we must add the figures of those deported in 1949 to special settlements. Soviet mass deportations from the Baltic States after 1945 resulted in many Baltic citizens deported to special settlements. The figures for 1945 to 1949 were: Latvians 39,279; Lithuanians: 81,158; Estonians 19,520.29

Baltic People in the Camps: Life and Conditions

As they were arrested, deported and transferred to the Gulag, the Baltic prisoners congregated in their own national groups. They also had a further connection and identity as fellow Balts, which was noted in the memoirs of many exprisoners. Baltic prisoners in the camps were noted for their solidarity, solidarity, their industriousness and their patriotism. Many of their fellow inmates speak of them with great respect. Solzhenitsyn (who was in Ekibastuz in Karaganda province) says, “I found the Estonians and Lithuanians particularly congenial. Although I was no better off than they were, they made me feel ashamed, as though I were the one who had put them inside. Unspoiled, hard-working, true to their word, unassuming – what had they done to be ground in the same mill as ourselves. They had harmed no one, lived a quiet, orderly life and a more moral life than ours – and now they were to blame because we were hungry, because they lived cheek by jowl with us and stood in our path to the sea.”30

While sentenced by the Soviet state as “counter-revolutionaries” and generally regarded by the camp guards as “fascists,” the Baltic prisoners were seen far differently in the eyes of fellow prisoners.31 They were a cross-section of decent Baltic citizenry and came from all social groups: civil officials, military personnel, teachers, lawyers, writers, intellectuals, artists, doctors, university professors, laborers, farmers, and workers. While she was in the Orel hard labor camp in 1951, Helena Latkovska Wojtuskiewicz (a Polish citizen of Latvian birth) expressed this aptly in describing the types of people imprisoned as “enemies of the state.” She asked: “who were these ‘enemies of the country’ who were on our train from Riga? They were the Catholic pastor, Rev. Stanislas Zeps, the head of the Latvian Music Conservatory, students, teachers, secretaries, the young wife of a forest guard whose baby boy was born in prison where he soon died, an old grandmother, Mrs. Novicka, and many other similar people.”32

At Vorkuta, the Baltic prisoners were well organized and presented a particular problem for the authorities. The Vorkuta commander, MVD General Kuzma Derevianko, said the following about the Baltic prisoners: “The Soviet authorities have no enemy so numerically small but yet so implacable in their enmity as the Balts. We shall, however, see to it that this vermin disappears from the face of the earth.”33

Solzhenitsyn talks about his interactions with the Balts. He would read the news to them. “We were not left without news – they brought us daily a sort of half-sized newspaper. I sometimes had the task of reading it aloud to the whole cell and I read it with expression, for there were things there which demanded it.”34

The tenth anniversary of the ‘liberation’ of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania came around just at this time. Some of those who understood Russian translated for the rest. (I paused for them to do so), and what can only be called a howl went up from the bed platforms as they heard about the freedom and prosperity introduced into their countries for the first time in history. Each of these Balts (and a good third of all those in the transit prison were Balts) had left behind a ruined home and was lucky if his family was still there and not on its way to Siberia with another batch of prisoners.35

There were isolated cases where Balts had been compromised and turned into informers. In the Rudnik camp of  Dzezhkazgan in 1951, a Lithuanian camp informant named Kozlauskas was killed by other prisoners.36

The American prisoner John Noble says that the Baltic prisoners “had the strongest organizations (only a compatriot could share their bacon) and the Russians the weakest... The MVD found it difficult to plant informers among the Balts.”37 Scholmer noted that the Lithuanian organization had its stock of bacon which it controlled tightly. Generally the Balts received better food parcels from their families than the Russians because of the higher standard of living. Scholmer states that the Latvians were like the Ukrainians “politicals” in that they were opponents of Communism because they had experienced it. He says that they knew too well what it was like. In reference to the Latvians in the camps, Scholmer says that among them was also “a high number of intelligentsia.” He also observed that “the Estonians are as intransigent toward the Russians as the Latvians are.”38 The Balts had good relations with people of other nations, but they had little to talk about with those who were real Soviet citizens because “their mentality and outlook were foreign to us.”39

Baltic People and other Nationalities at Vorkuta

The prisoners at Vorkuta represented dozens of different nationalities. There were people from at least ninety nations. During World War II and in the immediate postwar period, there were many Russians, particularly former German prisoners-of-war. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, large numbers of Ukrainians and Baltic peoples, including many anti-Soviet partisans from these regions, were sent to Vorkuta. Since the late 1940s the Ukrainians were the largest single nationality, comprising nearly 50 percent. The next largest group were the Balts who made up about 30 percent.

As in Norilsk, some Balts were first sent to Vorkuta in 1941, but with the second Soviet occupation of the Baltic States at the end of World War II, they were deported there in far greater numbers. This continued through the early 1950s. In 1953, another large group of Baltic nationals were brought to Vorkuta. These were young anti-Soviet national partisans from all three Baltic states.

There were Latvians in all of the Vorkuta mine-camps. In Mine-camp No. 5, Janis Simsons40 says that there were about fifty to sixty Latvians among the 3,000 prisoners. He says that this was about the same number of Latvians as in other mine-camps. The total in each camp fluctuated, depending on the number transferred to other camps, the number sent in from elsewhere, and the number of deaths. Among the Latvians were some with advanced education, including the Talsi city official Jansons, but most were simply members of the Latvian Legion or ordinary farmers. Among the Latvians, particularly outstanding were the former student and legionnaire Zagars and Zanis Mentelis, the son of a Latvian university professor and pogost official of the Auce region. In the camp, Zagars worked as a medical assistant in the surgery unit and Mentelis as the medical assistant in the tuberculosis unit. The legionnaire Skapars was in the same camp as Simsons. Camp No. 5 also had about fifty Lithuanians, several dozen Estonians and about twenty Volga Germans.41 The few Lithuanians with whom Simsons had close contact were simple country folk.

Valentins Ozolins gives the number of Latvians in Camp No. 29 as 400. Latvians in Vorkuta came from all professions and occupations: there were doctors, farmers, police, accountants, engineers bookkeepers, pogost officials, professors, and border guards.

There was great hostility between the Russian guards and the Ukrainians, whom they derided as Banderists. Buca also reports tension between the Russian prisoners and the others, especially the Ukrainians. “One result of our desperate condition was increased hatred and strife between the different nationalities, with each group trying to blame another for our plight. The basic conflict was between Russians and Ukrainians. The Russians regarded the Ukrainian nationalists and separatists as the real guilty men, and it was a kind of consolation to them to say that the Ukrainians were the real criminals who should be made to suffer for their sins. ...The Russian prisoners had picked up these ideas from the NKVD officers and guards.”42

Among the prominent Balts in Vorkuta was the Lithuanian A. Kazanas described by Buca as “a former army officer, old-fashioned and fair minded, ... he was popular with his fellow Balts, but did not mix with Russians, Ukrainians or Poles.”43 During the revolt, he told his compatriots, “I am an old man, you can count on me. He agreed to keep order among his fellow Balts.”

How and why the Baltic prisoners were sentenced is an issue that needs investigation. All were sentenced under Article 58. Apparently many were under the special tribunal of the MVD. The MVD arrested a person, tried him, and then put him in the camps, where they placed him at forced labor and guarded him. Some of the prisoners, like Ravis, were actually put on trial in Vorkuta. His trial took place before a special three-person military tribunal in the trial hall in Vorkuta. Ravis had no lawyer because he was told “criminals under Article 58 are not expected to have lawyers representing them.” Ravis said: “The Vorkuta military prosecutor had authorized my arrest, based on the USSR Criminal Code Article 58 for “military betrayal of the fatherland.”44 Ozolins, who was sentenced for 25 years, said that he was tried on the basis of testimony by someone who had never met him. Many were tried in absentia or secretly.

Baltic Women in the Camps

Women from the Baltic States were in all of the camps where the revolts took place. They also took an active part in the revolts, with Latvian Alida Dauge in Norilsk the best example. In one of the women’s camps, there were 1,500 inmates in the early 1950s. The Baltic women (and Ukrainian women) had been imprisoned for alleged collaboration with partisans and were given 10- to 25-year terms. While there were Baltic women who supported the national partisans, the Gulag was filled with women who were imprisoned for trivial or unintentional acts. They lived in barracks of about 75 women in each unit. There were at least 800 Lithuanian women in Vorkuta.45 Women worked at “road construction and repair, street paving, railroad car loading, etc.” Everything was done manually. For example, a fifty-ton railroad car had to be unloaded in four hours by 26 women.46

Baltic Cooperation

Simsons says: “We, all of the Latvians in camp, as well as other Balts, frequently congregated and discussed, each in our native tongue, interesting topics.”47 John Noble reports a restriction on groups of five gathering, but Simsons did not experience this. Simsons says that the Baltic prisoners shied away from the “red corner” reading room because they viewed it with great suspicion. Simsons and the others regularly read the regional paper Za Novi Sever and as well as Pravda and other Moscow newspapers. Two of the Latvian prisoners regularly received issues of Cina and Padomju Jaunatne from Latvia. These newspapers were passed around from person to person and were read with great interest because they were the only means of receiving information about the native land for the Latvian inmates. Almost everyone received letters from relatives in Latvia, but these letters dealt only with family matters.48

Balts and Religion in the Gulag

In addition to its spiritual function, for the Balts, especially Latvians and Lithuanians, religion played an important political and social role in the camps. (This was also notable among Poles and Ukrainians). For these groups, religious expression was a practice that became more vital in detention and which they maintained secretly and under great difficulty. The practice of religion in the Gulag was forbidden, so essentially this was done only through great secrecy or sometimes with the tacit approval of the guards. The prohibition and punishment varied among the guards. There were many clergy from all over the USSR (and even foreign lands) imprisoned in the camps as part of the general prisoner population. They represented many different faiths. There were many Catholic and Lutheran clergy from the Baltic states in the Gulag. In the early 1950s in Vorkuta alone, there were five Latvian Catholic priests, approximately that many Lithuanian Catholic priests and several Latvian Lutheran ministers, including Pauls Rozenbergs, Janis Udris and Augusts Alers.49 Viktors Pentjuss said that in Vorkuta he and several Lithuanian priests would hold regular religious services secretly for the Catholics, especially the Balts.

Catholic nuns from Lithuania as well as many from the Ukraine and Poland were also imprisoned in the camps where they joined Russian Orthodox nuns who had been deported to the camps earlier. Solzhenitsyn says that one camp was composed of at least one-third nuns. Many of the prisoners spoke of the bravery and superhuman religious dedication of the sisters. Rossi said that “a nun is a great example of great moral steadfastness and physical endurance.”50

For the non-Russian prisoners, religion was also a part of their sense of national identity. “Celebrating holy days according to their specific rites... meant underlining a distinct nationality, belonging to a particular community and manifesting one’s own patriotic sentiments. The members of the clergy thus became important reference points for the national communities in the camps.”51 For the Lithuanians, the Catholic priests were very active in tending to the religious needs of prisoners. Among Latvians, there were Catholic priests in various camps, including five at Vorkuta, and also Lutheran ministers for Latvians. The clergy would perform services on a regular basis as well as special feast days. They would hold the services in remote parts of coal mines or in forest areas or in barracks, with sentries posted to warn of guards.

Latkovska-Wojtuskiewicz said: “I left myself completely in God’s hands... I had no other interest except to keep up the spirit of the other prisoners... Now all that remained was to concentrate my thoughts on my Redeemer and participate in my fate with others like me.”52

Solzhenitsyn describes his encounter with fervent Lithuanian Catholics:

in the Kuibyshev transit prison I saw Catholics (Lithuanians) busy making themselves rosaries for prison use. They made them by soaking bread, kneading beads from it, coloring them (black ones with burnt rubber, white ones with tooth powder, red ones with red germicide), stringing them while still moist on several strands of thread twisted together and thoroughly soaped, and letting them dry on the window ledge. I joined them and said that I, too, wanted to say my prayers with a rosary, but that in my particular religion, I needed one hundred beads in a ring (later, when I realized that twenty would suffice and indeed be more convenient, I made them myself from cork), that every tenth bead must be cubic and not spherical, and that the fiftieth and the hundredth must be distinguishable by touch. The Lithuanians were amazed by my religious zeal (the most devout among them had no more than forty beads), but with true brotherly love helped me put together a rosary such as I had described, making the hundredth bead in the form of a dark-red heart. I never afterward parted with this marvelous present of theirs; I fingered and counted my beads inside my wide mittens – at work lineup, on the march to and from work, at all waiting times; I could do it standing up, and the freezing cold was no hindrance. I carried it safely through the search points in the padding of my mittens, where it could not be felt. The warders found it on various occasions, but supposed that I was praying and let me keep it. Until the end of my sentence (by which time I had accumulated 12,000 lines) and after that in my place of banishment, this necklace helped me to write and remember.53

The Lithuanian women observed their national customs... They also celebrated Christmas and Easter by taking the traditional meals together.54 There were, however, many times when it was impossible to mark a religious feast. For instance, in the Orel prison, Latkovska-Wojtuskiewicz described the scene at Easter in 1951 as “a veritable hell: the room was full of people, half-naked women languished and we, the new arrivals, wallowed on filthy straw, from which rose a stinking dust which choked one’s breath. We were so hoarse we could neither breathe nor speak.”55

Unrest in the Camps: The Increase of Revolts after World War II

The story of the Gulag revolts is very sketchy, but there were rebellions from the very beginning, starting with uprisings in Solovki. There were some camp revolts in the 1930s, for instance in Kolyma in 1936, in Vorkuta and in Dalstroi in 1937 and in Vorkuta again in 1939. In 1942, during World War II, there was a legendary rebellion in the Ust-Usa camp of the Vorkuta complex.56 In the wartime period there were rebellious actions by Baltic prisoners. In Usolsk, a group of Estonians had organized to take control of the camp and attempted to establish contact with the German military. In Norilsk, in 1944, a group of Latvians and others staged a hunger strike. Unrest in the Gulag camps became more frequent after World War II. A major revolt in Vorkuta in 1947 could only be put down with the help of airplanes.

The creation of the “special regime” camps increased the number of revolts. Silde describes numerous revolts in his study of the Gulag.57 Solzhenitsyn devotes much of his third volume of The Gulag Archipelago to the prisoner rebellion against the system. Anne Applebaum cites the following as only a few examples of the growing unrest: “an armed uprising in Kolyma in the winter of 1949-1950; an armed escape from Kraslag in March 1951; mass hunger strikes in Ukhtizhemlag and Ekibastuzlag, in Karaganda, later in 1951; and a strike in Ozerlag in 1952.”58 Documents show the Gulag hierarchy’s knowledge of the growing restiveness of prisoners in the camps. Applebaum characterized it thus:

The Gulag’s Moscow bosses were well aware of dissatisfaction and unrest within the camps too. By 1951, mass work refusals, carried out by both criminal and political prisoners, had reached crisis levels, in that year, the MVD calculated that it had lost more than a million workdays due to strikes and protests. In 1952 that number doubled. According to the Gulag’s own statistics, 32 percent of prisoners in the year 1952 had not fulfilled their work norms. The list of major strike and protest actions in the years 1950 to 1952, kept by the authorities themselves, is surprisingly long.59

The camps were increasingly difficult to control. Applebaum says: “So bad had the situation become that in January 1952, the commander of Norilsk sent a letter to General Ivan Dolgikh, then the Gulag’s commander in chief, listing the steps he had taken to prevent rebellion.60

Clandestine Organizations

In the postwar years, the Gulag was filled with younger anti-Soviet national guerrilla fighters, as well as landowners who were dispossessed in the collectivization. The Karaganda, Norilsk and Vorkuta camps like others received many of these new prisoners. The new forced laborers created their own networks in the camps and maintained a national solidarity. Solzhenitsyn commented that this created a new dynamic because “other forms of human association now bound people more closely together than the work teams artificially put together by the administration. Most important were national ties.” Applebaum says: “In the case of both Rechlag (Vorkuta) and Gorlag (Norilsk), memoirs and archives agree that those in charge (to the extent that anyone was in charge) were almost always Western Ukrainians, Poles and Balts”.61

Origin of the 1953 Revolts: Unrest in Karaganda

Karaganda, located in Kazakhstan, was the focal point of the unrest in the Gulag system in the early 1950s. Uprisings occurred in various Karaganda camps in late 1952 and continued into 1953. It was the transfer of restive prisoners from Karaganda to Norilsk and Vorkuta that combined with brewing unrest in those camps to explode into major revolt.

The Karaganda Gulag network consisted of camps both within the immediate area of the city as well as in the surrounding region. Four “special regime” camps were created there: Steplag, Peschanlag, Luglag and Kamyshlag. There were prisoners of various nationalities in these camps, but there was a particularly high percentage of Ukrainians and Baltic nationals. Area camps included Spassk, 30 kilometers south; Dolinka, a few kilometers southeast; Dubovka, 22 kilometers west; Aktas, 12 kilometers west; and Dzhumabeck. Other camps of the Karaganda network – but farther from Karaganda – were Ekibastuz, about 400 kilometers to the east, and Dzezhkazgan, which is about 250 kilometers west. Dzezhkazgan was the administrative center of the Karaganda Area Camp Administration.

There are reports that there was also another “special regime” camp in Karaganda: Karlag, also known as Karlag 246. Its administrative center was Dolinka. As of 1951, it was for political prisoners only. Karlag 246 had a prisoner population of about 30,000, with a high proportion of women – 40 percent.62

Karaganda had several women’s camps. Martha Chyz reported that one of them was known as “the Wives Camp” (for married women) because of the large number of wives of the so-called “enemies of the people.” The notorious Spassk camp complex had a women’s camp where 2,800 women worked at construction of houses, as well as in quarries, and in the fields.”63 There were also women’s camps in Kengir and Balkash, where the prisoners worked in sawmills and quarries.64

An uprising in Ekibastuz in 1952 reported by Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago was one of several in this period.65 A Karaganda uprising occurred in April 1953. This was larger than previous uprisings there in 1947 and 1951. Shifrin also reported a strike in Dzezhkazgan in 1953.

Kengir is most famous for the massive strike in 1954 (vividly described by Solzhenitsyn “Forty Days of Kengir”,66 but a year before, a major protest erupted there in the middle of May. It developed as a confrontation with guards, when the prisoners began to eliminate suspected spies in the camps. On May 16, the prisoners started a strike (which lasted three days) because a drunken guard had killed several inmates.

A participant, the Hungarian physician Dr. Fedor Varkony, reported that a year before the Great Uprising, on May 16, 1953, the prisoners of the Kengir camp were fired upon by automatic weapons without any cause, while they were returning from work. The following day, May 17, the prisoners refused to go to work and demanded that the guards guilty of the shooting, in which four persons lost their lives, be severely punished. The strike was not well prepared and it was broken in three days. The strike organizers and the more active strikers, 300 in number, were put under investigation and arrest.67 In spite of the arrests, the significance of the prisoners’ protests was that they forced the authorities to negotiate before returning to work.68 There was more unrest a few months later. In July, a woman was killed by shots from a watchtower for allegedly entering into the prohibited zone. The results were the same as those following the earlier killings of four prisoners: strikes and work stoppages.69

Of the 8,000 inmates in the four camp divisions at Kingir, more than half were Ukrainians, and about one-fourth were Russians. Veterans from World War II played a major role in the (1954) uprising. ...Most of the protests in 1953 and 1954 took place in Camp No. 3, adjacent to Kingir’s maximum security prison.70

After being offered concessions, including the granting of some of their demands, the strikers still refused to end their protest. They insisted on putting their demands directly to a member of the government or of the Central Committee. These demands were: a review of the sentences handed down to political prisoners, to be undertaken, not by the MVD, but rather by members of the Ministry of Justice; the granting of freedom, both to members of the Ukrainian, Belorussian, Moldavian and Baltic nationalist organizations, and also to those prisoners who were “victims of the Second World War” (i.e., those imprisoned by Germans in concentration camps, who, on their return to the Soviet Union, were given long sentences for espionage or “betraying the nation”).71

Prisoner Transfers

In an attempt to control the unrest in Karaganda, the Gulag authorities moved the prisoners to other camps, most notably Norilsk and Vorkuta. Transfer and dispersal were tactics used previously to attempt to disrupt networks and prevent collusion. In the fall of 1952, the Gulag administration transferred 1,200 Ukrainian and Baltic prisoners.72

In October 1952, a group of Ukrainian and Baltic prisoners were taken from Peschanlag (Karaganda) to Norilsk.73 Anne Applebaum reports: “Many have seemed to have been involved in the armed escape attempts and protests that had taken place there a few months earlier. All were imprisoned for ‘revolutionary activity’ in the Western Ukraine and Baltic States.”74 Their activism was shown in that they had already organized clandestine organizations as they were being transferred. The MVD reported them to be involved in “organizing a revolutionary committee even as they were being transferred to Norilsk.”75 Silde was one of the first to identify this Soviet mistake: “The surviving leaders of the Karaganda mutiny were transferred to Vorkuta. In this, the Bolsheviks committed an error; in Vorkuta these anti-Soviet fighters told about this heroic struggle against the oppressor in Karaganda, thus inspiring the Vorkuta internees to fight for their honor and freedom.”76 In February 1953, 1,000 Ukrainian prisoners were transferred from Kamyshlag to Rechlag.77

March to June 1953: Events Influencing the Revolts

In addition to the long-term factors, in 1953 there were many significant events that contributed to the outbreak of the revolts in Norilsk and Vorkuta. The first of these was Stalin’s sudden death in March, followed by the June 17 uprising in East Germany and shortly thereafter the arrest and removal of Beria. In April, an uprising erupted at Karaganda, followed by the Norilsk revolt from May to August. Unrest in Karaganda actually dated back to late 1952. The Karaganda disturbances affected both Norilsk and Vorkuta because some of the rebels from Karaganda were transferred to these two camp complexes. In Vorkuta, the news about the East Germans and Beria virtually coincided with the arrival of prisoners from Karaganda. The death of Stalin had brought hope of changes that did not come. There was an amnesty for certain Gulag prisoners declared by the Soviet Presidium on March 27,1953, but it applied only to the criminals, leaving the politicals frustrated.

Other factors in the revolts were the presence of many more political prisoners in the camps, particularly the very active Ukrainians and the Balts. The recent arrival of larger numbers of these groups in the Gulag was significant. There already were Ukrainian and Baltic nationals in the Gulag camps, but after 1949 their numbers increased and were reinvigorated by newly arrived national partisans.

These non-Russian groups organized themselves very well. They functioned as institutions of solidarity as well as secret nationalist organizations in the camps. They were not only able to survive better than previous prisoner groups, but they tried various forms of resistance and some were preparing for a chance to revolt. All of the above factors combined with existing grievances in making the revolt.

The unrest in Karaganda began in late 1952 and smoldered until April 1953. This was larger than previous uprisings there in 1947 and 1951. Applebaum says that many of the activist prisoners “were involved in armed escape attempts and protests” and were transferred elsewhere over the following months. About 1,200 were moved to Norilsk (the Gorlag “special regime” camp). She says they all had been sent to the Gulag for “revolutionary activity in the Western Ukraine and the Baltic States.”78 They even had continued to organize revolutionary plans while being transferred to Norilsk.

Unrest in the Spassk Women’s Camp

Spassk was a large camp of 15,000 prisoners twenty miles from Karaganda. Solzhenitsyn gives it special mention as a particularly brutal camp.79 In the women’s camp in 1953 there were more than 200 Lithuanians, 120 Latvians and 40 Estonians. All were political prisoners. It was separated from the adjacent men’s camp by a high wall. Communication between the two camps was conducted by rocks thrown over the wall with messages attached. This message system kept the prisoners informed of both local as well as national and international events. From nearby hill it was possible to observe events in both camps. The barracks were made of clay and straw. Women camp officials and female MVD officers kept very strict control.

There was a fight between criminals and the politicals (Ukrainians):

MVD units, with machine guns and tanks, were summoned and killed several hundred prisoners in a fierce clash. Among the dead were 80 or 82 women – the uprising had been particularly violent in the Karaganda women’s camp, where an open defiance of death was shown.”80

* * *

 End of Part I

Part II will be continued in the Winter Issue of Lituanus 2005
Part II. Baltic Prisoners of the Gulag Revolts of 1953

From Lietuviai Sibire / Lithuanians in Siberia,
Chicago: Lithuanian Press, Inc. 1981, Dust jacket cover

Mortality of Prisoners in the Soviet Camps in 1941

Places of imprisonment

Total of

Died in


prison camps


Arkhangelsk region 545 186  34.1
Chkalov (Orenburg) region 150 31  20
Gorky region 662 207  31.27
Karelia ASSR 194 unknown  ---
Kazakh SSR 86 37  43
Komi ASSR 1,460 407  27.9
Krasnoyarsk territory 3,324 1,264  38
Molotov (Perm) region 361 246  68.1
Sverdlovsk region 531 202  38
Vologda region camps 123 21  17
Geography unknown 1,810 555  30.6
Total 9,246 3,156  40.6

Source: Prepared by Birutë Burauskaitë,
Center for Genocide and Repressions in Vilnius

Karlag in the Kazakhstan region.
Photo by Herikas Paulauskas, 1990


1. Galina Ivanovna, Labor Camp Socialism: The Gulag in the Totalitarian System (London: M.E. Sharpe, 2000) 188. The Riga branch of “Memorial” has been compiling an ever-expanding list of Gulag locations. It has identified more than 400 Gulag camp sites.
2. The Soviet Secret Police began as a temporary institution, the CHEKA (Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage), but became institutionalized. It underwent various name changes, first to the OGUP (Unified State Political Administration) then to the NKVD (Commissariat for Internal Affairs); in 1943 it split into what later became the KGB (Committee for State Security and the MVD (Interior Ministry).
3. In 1953, the Soviet representative to the U.N. called the charge that the U.S.S.R. used forced labor “baseless and of scurrilous nature”... a “libelous accusation.” United Nations, International Labor Office, Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labor (Geneva, 1953), 461–463.
4. See: Paul R. Gregory and Valery Lazarev, eds., The Economics of Forced Labor (Palo Alto, California: Hoover Institution Press, 2003) and S. Swaniewicz, Forced Labour and Economic Development (London: Oxford University Press, 1965).
5. A new volume of documents on the revolts has just been publishedby researchers in Russia in cooperation with the Hoover Institution. V.A. Kozlov, ed., Vostaniya, bunti i Zabastovki zaklyuchennikh, Vol. 6, Istoriia Stalinskovo Gulaga (Moscow: Rosspen, 2004).
6. William D. Pederson, “Norilsk Uprising of 1953,” Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1976) Vol. 25, 52.
7. John Noble, I Was a Slave in Soviet Russia (New York: The Devin-Adair Co., 1966) 120.
8. Janis Zile, “Vorkutas 1953 gada vasara“. Via Dolorosa – Stalinisma upuru liecibas (Riga, 1993) Vol. 2, 262.
9. Marta Craveri, Resistenza nel Gulag (Rubbettino, 2003); Craveri and O. Khlevnyiuk, “Krizis ekonomiki MVD,” Cahiers du monde russe, No. 3, 1995, 319–344. 
10. Italian and Hungarian groups have also been involved. In Russia, the independent group “Memorial” has devoted its efforts to this.
11. Roy Medvedev and Zhores Medvedev, The Unknown Stalin: his life, death and legacy (New York: Overlook Press, 2004), Chapter 7: “Stalin and the atomic Gulag.”  James E. Oberg, Uncovering Soviet Disasters (New York: Random House: 1988), Chapter 14.
12 Article 58 of the Section: “Crimes against the State” of the 1926 RSFSR Criminal Code had 14 categories of “counterrevolutionary crimes” including: “wrecking,” “counterrevolutionary propaganda and agitation,” “attempts to weaken state authority,” “transmission of state secrets” and “sabotage,” etc.
13. Miervaldis Ravis, “Smagie gadi Vorkuta“, Latvijas Arhivi, No. 2, 1995, 56.
14. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago. Vol. III, 64; see Jacques Rossi, The Gulag Handbook (New York: Paragon House, 1989), 414–415, 527.
15. Ainars Bambals, “1940/41 gada represeto Latviesu virsnieku pieminai: virsnieku Gogotas cels un liktenis Gulaga nometnes (1941–1959), Latvijas Okupacijas Muzeja Gada Gramata 1999: Genocida politika un prakse (Riga: Latvijas 50 gadu okupacijas muzeja fonds, 2000), 117.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid., 118.
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid.
20. Rossi, Gulag Handbook, 254.
21. Georg Csikos, Katorga; Un europeen dans les camps de la mort sovietiques (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1986) 282–295.
22. Adolfs Silde, The Profits of Slavery (Stockholm: Latvian National Foundation, 1958) 28.
23. Ibid.
24. See Roy Medvedev and Zhores Medvedev, The Unknown Stalin: His Life, Death and Legacy.
25. Otto J, Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System (London: McFarland Publishers, 1997), 36. Pohl’s work is an important effort to provide accurate data on the camps and their population. His total for the Gulag in 1951 is 2,528,146. Beria’s figure in a 1953 report to the CPSU Central Committee Presidium was 2,526,402.  Applebaum, Gulag, 478.
26. Pohl, 34–38.
27. Marta Craveri, “Forced Labour in the Soviet Union Between 1939 and 1956,” Reflections on the Gulag (Milan: Fondazione Giancomo Feltrinelli, 2003), 34.
28. Ibid., 372.
29. Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System, 123. Pohl also lists 18,104 “Lithuanian kulaks 1951” as a distinct category of Western Special Settlers.
30. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. III, 43.
31. The MVD leadership encouraged the guards to demonize the Baltic groups “as Nazis and fascists” and used the deliberate tactic of divide and conquer. They often incited Russian prisoners against the Ukrainians or against the Balts or Poles to attempt to control the camps.
32. Helena Latkovska Wojtuskiewicz, I Lived Through Hell on Earth: Sixteen Years in Siberia (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, 1998), 101.
33. Slide, Profits of Slavery, 233.
34. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. III, 46.
35. Ibid., 46–47.
36. Ibid., 277.
37. Noble, I Was a Slave in Soviet Russia, 138.
38. Scholmer, Vorkuta, 120–121.
39. Ibid., 263.
40. Janis Simsons, Vorkutas gustekna stats (Vaidava, 1965), 262.
41. Ibid.
42. Eduard Buca, Vorkuta (London: Constable, 1976), 80.
43. Ibid., 233.
44. Ravis, “Smagie gadi Vorkuta,” 56.
45. Ibid. 124, 126.
46. Ibid., 124.
47. Simsons, Vorkutas gustekna stasts, 339.
48. Simsons, 336–337.
49. See L. Latkovskis, “Latviesu priesteri Vorkuta un teva Jana Mendrika nave 1953 gada Vorkutas vergu lielas sacelsanas laika,” Katolu Kalendars 2004 (Riga, 2003), 174–191; Edgars Kiploks, Taisnibas del vajatie: Latviesu macitaji ciesanu cela (Latvian Evangelica Lutheran Church in America, 1993).
50. Rossi, Gulag Handbook, (New York: Paragon House, 1989), 237.
51. Ibid.
52. Latkovska Wojtuskiewicz, I Lived Through Hell on Earth: Sixteen Years in Siberia, 101.
53. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. III, 100–101.
54. Ibid., 124.
55. Latkovska Wojtuskiewicz, 123.
56. Craveri, Resistenza del Gulag, 89–90. See also Applebaum, Chapter 18, “Rebellion and Escape,” and Ivanovna, Labor Camp Socialism.
57. Slide, Profits of Slavery, 211–258.
58. Applebaum, Gulag, 472–473.
59. Ibid.
60. Applebaum, Gulag, 473.
61. Ibid., 489.
62.. National Archives.
63. Martha Chyz, Woman and Child in the Modern System of Slavery – USSR. (New York: Suzero, 1962), 98.
64. Ibid., 97.
65. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. III, 251–279.
66. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. III.
67. “The Heroic 500 Ukrainian Women of Ingir Concentration Camp,” Ukrainian Bulletin, March 1–15, 1956, 6–7.
68. Pederson, “Kengir Uprising of 1954,” Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1976), 9,
69. “The Heroic 500 Ukrainian Women,” 6–7.
70. Pederson, “Kengir Uprising of 1954”, 9.
71. Craveri, “The Strikes in Norilsk and Vorkuta Camps,” 373.
72. Yevgeny Hritsiak, The Norilsk Uprising; Letter from Moscow Commission to MVD director Kruglov, Kozlov, ed. Vostaniya, bunti i Zabastovk, 2 ff.
73. Craveri, 175, 207; Hrytsyak, 2 ff.
74. Applebaum, Gulag, 487.
75. Ibid. 487.
76. Silde, Profits of Slavery, 214.
77. Kozlov, ed., Vostaniya, bunti i Zabastovki zaklyuchennikh, 673.
78. Applebaum, Gulag, 487.
79. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago, Vol. III, 60–66.
80. Silde, Profits of Slavery, 214.