The Soviet Gulag and the Man Who Exposed the System

The Soviet Gulag and the Man Who Exposed the System

Today we continue our series on Soviet communism. Today’s topic is the infamous Soviet Gulag system–and the man who exposed it to the West.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Man Who Exposed the Gulag

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1974.

One of the most famous books about the Soviet Gulag is called The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. According to famous psychologist Jordan Peterson, this book is one of the most important works of the 20th century.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in 1918. Although he wanted to be a writer, he ended up graduating from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Rostov University in 1941. World War II broke out shortly after that, and he was put in command of an artillery-position-finding company. He was on the front lines until 1945, when he was arrested for making disrespectful remarks about Stalin. Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to eight years in the gulag. It was considered a mild sentence at that time. After his eight-year sentence was up, he was exiled for life to southern Kazakhstan.

During his exile, he taught math and physics, and he wrote in secret. He only published one work in the Soviet Union. After that, he had to publish in the West. He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974, but was able to return to Russia in 1994, after the Soviet Union was dissolved.

To get a better idea of Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago, we hear from author Daniel J. Mahoney. He wrote the book Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent from Ideology. Dr. Mahoney talks about Solzhenitsyn’s time in the camps, why he criticized communism, and how he was able to keep his faith in humanity.

Here’s Dr. Daniel Mahoney’s lecture at Hillsdale College in October 2017: