61 pages 2 hours read

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1973

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Part 3, Chapters 1-7Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary: “The Fingers of Aurora”

Solzhenitsyn details the history of concentration camps in Russia. He believes that such camps and prisons were immediately established in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The forced labor—“the leading idea of the Archipelago” (178)—differs from the previous incarceration system by being better staffed, more intense, and involving a far greater number of prisoners. Solzhenitsyn quotes from Lenin’s telegrams about the use of concentration camps and “mass terror” (179) to secure the safety of the Soviet Republic against class enemies. From there, the system of camps grew into what Solzhenitsyn refers to as the Archipelago.

Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary: “The Archipelago Rises from the Sea”

Solzhenitsyn outlines his use of the Archipelago as an analogy for the labor camps. He describes the archipelago of islands on the White Sea, which are spread out across the water like the labor camps are spread across Russia. Some camps were converted from monasteries, including one on the Solovetsky Islands which was the first example of the Gulag prisons. The Solovetsky Monastery became the Solovki prison camp, and its prisoners were made to balance on poles all day, thrown down steep flights of stairs, or tied naked to a tree and left to the mosquitos.