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Readers’ comments special: True horror of the Gulag


Ollie Wright’s blog on TCW yesterday about the LGBTQ students at Goldsmiths, University of London, who seem to believe that the Soviet Gulag labour camps were ‘compassionate’ places of rehabilitation, resonated with our readers.

Here is a selection of extracts from the many powerful comments we received:

logdon wrote:

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn was my true awakening.

[From] the Amazon description:

‘This brutal, shattering glimpse of the fate of millions of Russians under Stalin shook Russia and shocked the world when it first appeared. Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of string or a single match in a world where survival is all. Here safety, warmth and food are the first objectives. Reading it, you enter a world of incarceration, brutality, hard manual labour and freezing cold – and participate in the struggle of men to survive both the terrible rigours of nature and the inhumanity of the system that defines their conditions of life.’

The Duke of Umberland, England wrote:

Quote from Goldsmiths’ LGBTQWERTY group:

‘Educational work was also a prominent feature of the Soviet [Gulag] penal system. There were regular classes, book clubs, newspaper editorial teams, sports theatre and performance groups.’

Quote from Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize speech, 1970:

‘To have mounted this rostrum from which the Nobel lecture is delivered . . . I have climbed not the three or four attached steps, but hundreds and even thousands of them, with almost no toehold, steep, and covered with ice, leading out of the darkness and cold where it had been my fate to survive while others – perhaps more gifted and stronger than I – perished . . . Those who vanished into this abyss when they had already earned a literary reputation are at least known; but how many there were who had not yet been recognised, who had never been publicly named! And almost no one managed to return. An entire national literature remains there, buried without a coffin, even without underwear – naked, with only an identifying tag on one toe . . . Where a congenial forest might have stood, there remained after all the felling but two or three trees overlooked by chance.’

Suthringa wrote:

Are not the Goldsmiths LGBTQ XYZ aware that under Soviet Communism their orientation was categorised as a mental illness and socially deviant condition?

Audre Myers wrote:

. . . If they were living in the time of 20th century Russia, they would have been the FIRST to get murdered!

MaximusChunkatron wrote:

But, but . . . The evil Tories! They’re literally killing poor and disabled people with their cuts while letting the bankers off! The evil Tories have done nothing to combat racism against people of colour! Magic grandpa will give us free stuff! Legalise drugs! Borders are for fascists!

That’s what you’re dealing with. . . Raising the voting age to 25 is one obvious action to protect the adult world from the mental tantrums of dying childhood.

Malcolm Jackson wrote:

No wonder London-educated children are so ignorant of history and much else. Taught by the 3rd rate output of Common Purpose brainwashed Goldsmiths’ teacher training courses.

Harley Quin wrote:

We have a ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ but no ‘Gulag Memorial Day’; or ‘Killing Fields Memorial Day’ or ‘Cultural Revolution Memorial Day’.

That’s because this country is dominated by leftists who either don’t want the public to be reminded of the horrors perpetrated by the Cult of Equality . . . They do want to ‘remind’ the people of this country about the horrors of the Nazi regime though. The country, that is, which stood alone against the Nazis when the Cultists of Equality in the Soviet Union were its allies.

poitierslimoges wrote:

Grey is the Colour of Hope, the personal record by the poet Irina Ratushinskaya of how she was imprisoned in a Soviet labour camp, simply because her poetry was judged by the regime to be unacceptable, is worth reading. This was in the last years of the Soviet period, the supposedly more benign era of Communist rule . . . In earlier years, I suppose, she would not even have lived to tell about the horrific experiences she and the others in the camp had to go through. It ought to be prescribed reading for the deluded snowflakes chanting ‘Ooh, Jeremy Corbyn . . .’ at Glastonbury.

Colkitto03 wrote:

I have watched multiple news reports on Venezuela in the last month and almost none of them have even mentioned the word ‘socialism’. (There is a big problem but we cannot say what caused it!) This is because nearly all journalists that passed through universities in the last thirty years have to one degree or another been brainwashed.

Reborn wrote:

As far as the visual arts are concerned, Goldsmiths gave us Damien Hirst.

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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