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Death and RedemptionThe Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society$
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Steven A. Barnes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151120

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151120.001.0001

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The Crash of the Gulag: Releases and Uprisings in the Post-Stalin Era

The Crash of the Gulag: Releases and Uprisings in the Post-Stalin Era

(p.201) Chapter 6 The Crash of the Gulag: Releases and Uprisings in the Post-Stalin Era
Death and Redemption

Steven A. Barnes

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the period after Stalin's death. It looks at the explosive uprisings in the Gulag with a particular focus on the forty-day revolt at the Kengir division of Steplag. It also examines the new leadership's policy that largely emptied the camp and exile systems of all those charged with either petty or political offenses. Before Stalin's death, no level of economic loss or amount of systemic crisis could cause a serious reevaluation of the need for this mass social institution. Yet his death almost immediately ushered in a radical change in the size of the system. The Gulag's decline was marked by fits and starts, resulted in a paroxysm of mass disobedience throughout the system, and finally the system's almost total collapse.

Keywords:   Gulag, Soviet Union, prisons, Stalin, Kengir, Steplag, prisoner uprising, penal system

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