Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps
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Devoted to the ways in which Holocaust literature and Gulag literature provide contexts for each other, Leona Toker's book shows how the prominent features of one shed light on the veiled features and methods of the other. Toker views these narratives and texts against the background of historical information about the Soviet and the Nazi regimes of repression. Writers at the center of this work include Varlam Shalamov, Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Ka-Tzetnik, and others, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Evgeniya Ginzburg, and Jorge Semprún, illuminate the discussion. Toker's twofold analysis concentrates on the narrative qualities of the works as well as on the ways in which each text documents the writer's experience and in which fictionalized narrative can double as historical testimony. References to events might have become obscure owing to the passage of time and the cultural diversity of readers; the book explains them and shows how they form new meaning in the text. Toker is well-known as a skillful interpreter of Gulag literature, and this text presents new thinking about how Gulag literature and Holocaust literature enable a better understanding about testimony in the face of evil.


Inter-Contextuality: Introduction

1. The Gulag and Nazi Camps: From Improvisation to Stability

2. Two Strands of Concentration Camp Literature: A Brief History of an Entanglement

3. The Muselmann and the Dokhodiaga

4. Forced Labor

5. The Drowned and the Reprieved

6. On the Way to Resistance

7. Faith

8. Endgames

9. Survivor Guilt

Concluding Reflections

Works Cited




Publié par
Date de parution 28 août 2019
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9780253043559
Langue English

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Alvin H. Rosenfeld, editor
An Intercontextual Reading
Leona Toker
This book is a publication of

Indiana University Press
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2019 by Leona Toker

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1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
To Iris, Nitzan, and Ariel
I imagine there will be a flood of accounts. . . . Their value will depend on the worth of the witness, his insight, his judgment.
. . . And then there will be documents. . . . Later, historians will collect, classify, analyze this materials, drawing on it for scholarly words. . . . Everything will be said, put on record. . . . Everything in these books will be true . . . except that they won t contain the essential truth, which no historical reconstruction will ever be able to grasp, no matter how thorough and all inclusive it may be.
The others look at him, nodding, apparently reassured to see that one of us can formulate the problem so clearly.
The other kind of understanding, the essential truth of the experience, cannot be imparted. . . . Or should I say, it can be imparted only through literary writing.
He turns toward me, smiling. Through the artifice of a work of art, of course!

-Jorge Sempr n, Literature or Life
Intercontextuality: Introduction
1 The Gulag and Nazi Camps: From Improvisation to Stability
2 Two Strands of Concentration-Camp Literature: A Brief History of an Entanglement
3 The Muselmann and the Dokhodiaga
4 Forced Labor
5 The Drowned and the Reprieved
6 On the Way to Resistance
7 Faith
8 End Games
9 Survivor Guilt
Concluding Reflections
Works Cited
M Y WORK ON this book continued the attempts made in Return from the Archipelago (Indiana University Press, 2000) to approximate an understanding of a specifically twentieth-century kind of suffering, that of the inmates of concentration camps. It is a tribute to the survivors of the Nazi and Soviet camps who have testified to their experience, often creating accounts to which one turns for the facts but on which one lingers owing to their art of representation.
I am grateful to the colleagues who have encouraged this project and given me the benefit of their insights. I mourn the passing of the earliest advisors of this work-H. M. Daleski (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Geoffrey Hartman (Yale), and Emily Budick (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Alvin Rosenfeld of the University of Indiana, whose book on Holocaust literature was one of the first I read, as is true for thousands of others, has lent support to this project, read its results with constructive criticism, and gave me much valuable advice. The criticism of David Roskies (Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew University) has led to an important change in the structure of the work; the expertise of Jeff Wallen (Hampshire College) has led both to tightening the material and to filling in gaps. At different stages of the work I have been stimulated by discussions with Pekka Tammi (Tampere University), Anja Tippner (Hamburg University), Elena Mikhailik (University of New South Wales), the writer and Shalamov scholar Valery Esipov (Vologda Exile Museum), Omri Ronen (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor), Beth Holmgren (Duke University), Markku Lehtim ki (University of Eastern Finland), Nora Buhks and Luba Jurgenson (the Sorbonne), Natalia Pervukhina (University of Tennessee-Knoxville), Jakob Lothe (University of Oslo), Gennady Barabtarlo (University of Missouri-Columbia), and Meir Sternberg, Tamar Yacobi, and Dan Laor (Tel Aviv University), as well as with my Hebrew University colleagues Yehiel Szeintuch, Dimitri Segal, Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Sidra Ezrachi, Amos Goldberg, Manuela Consonni, Esther Cohen, Edward Waysband, and David Stromberg.
Earlier versions of different portions of the material have appeared in the following publications: On the legitimacy of comparisons: the Gulag goner and the Auschwitz Muselmann, in Jews and Slavs , vol. 14, Festschrift for Professor Ilya Serman, 325-30 (Jerusalem: Gesharim; Moscow: Mosty kultury, 2004; in Russian); Testimony and Doubt: Varlam Shalamov s How It Began and Handwriting, in Real Stories: Imagined Realities: Fictionality and Non-fictionality in Literary Constructs and Historical Contexts , ed. Markku Lehtim ki, Simo Leisti, and Marja Rytk nen, 51-67 (Tampere, Finland: Tampere University Press, 2007); Varlam Shalamov s signs and symbols, in Paths in Art: Symbolism and European Culture in the 20th Century , ed. D. M. Segal and N. M. Segal Rudnik, 380-90 (Moscow: Vodolei, 2008; in Russian); Textes litt raires et documents d archives: entre lision et allusion, in Le Goulag en heritage: Pour une anthropologie de la trace , ed. Elisabeth Anstett and Luba Jurgenson, 89-99 (Paris: P tra, 2009)-revised English and Russian versions published as Literary Texts and Archival Documents: Between Elision and Allusion, Gulag Studies 2-3 (2009-10): 55-67, and Literatura i dokument: Opyt vzaimoprochtenia in Varlam Shalamov v kontekste mirovoi literatury i Sovetskoi istorii , ed. S. M. Soloviev, 103-10 (Moscow: Litera, 2013); Folk Theodicy in Concentration Camps: Literary Representations, in Knowledge and Pain , ed. Esther Cohen, Leona Toker, Manuela Consonni, and Otniel E. Dror, 211-29 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012); Rereading Varlam Shalamov s June and May : Four Kinds of Knowledge, in (Hi-)stories of the Gulag: Fiction and Reality , ed. Felicitas Fischer von Weikersthal and Karoline Thaidigsmann, 193-203 (Heidelberg: Universit tsverlag Winter, 2016); Representation of Forced Labor in Shalamov s Wheelbarrow I and Wheelbarrow II, M moires en jeu / Memories at Stake 1 (September 2016): 77-85; A reconsideration of the concept of heroism in Shalamov s stories, in Zakon soprotivleniya raspadu: Osobennosti prozy i poezii Varlama Shalamova i ikh vospriyatie v nachale XXI veka , ed. Lukasz Babka, Sergey Soloviev, Valery Esipov, and Ian Makhonin, 69-78 (Prague: N rodn knihovna esk republiky, 2017; in Russian); and Towards a Literary History of Concentration Camps: Comparative of Entangled, in Narratives of Annihilation, Confinement, and Survival , ed. Anna Artwi ska and Anja Tippner, 13-29 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019). I thank the editors of these collections, as well as Professor Olga Cooke, editor of Gulag Studies , for their feedback.
The structure and texture of this book implements the lessons learned from Michael Scammell s comments on Return from the Archipelago and from the editorial supervision of that 2000 publication by Janet Rabinovich and Dee Mortensen.
I am grateful to my mother, Professor Nedda Strazhas, my first reader, critical and encouraging. My husband, Gregory Toker, has likewise been consistently supportive and made important comments on the logic of the analysis.
In 2004-2007 the project received the generous support of the Israel Science Foundation, grant 435/04. The help of my research assistant, Irina Lyan (now Dr. Lyan), in the framework of this grant, has been invaluable.
Intercontextuality: Introduction
T HIS BOOK IS devoted to narratives of the survivors of some of the worst sites of human suffering in the twentieth century-the Soviet Gulag and the Nazi concentration camps. The works chosen for analysis are those literary representations of the Gulag that can shed light on narratives of the KZ (the Konzentrantsionslager ) and, conversely, those narratives of Nazi camp survivors that provide indirect comments on the Gulag and its literature. 1
Having started as a means of repression and terrorization of antifascists, the KZ eventually became one of the main loci of the Holocaust. The term Holocaust for the Nazi genocidal drive against Jews came into frequent use in the late 1950s (see Bauer 1978, 31); it covers the processes that began with persecution and ghettoization and ended with mass murder. In its concentration-camp constituent and in the history of resistance, the Holocaust overlaps with the experience of non-Jewish victims of Nazism. Holocaust literature has been usefully defined by David Roskies and Naomi Diamant as all forms of writing, both documentary and discursive . . . that have shaped the public memory of the Holocaust and been shaped by it (2012, 2); mutatis mutandis, Gulag literature, whose corpus I have attempted to organize in Return from the Archipelago (2000), can be defined in a similar way. 2 Holocaust literature, however, comprises texts that in Gulag literature would be considered background materials-not only accounts of the ghettos as holding camps for Jews en route to death (Clendinnen 1999, 1), killing ravines such as Babi Yar, and Nazi concentration and extermination camps but also narratives about different aspects and areas of Jewish life in Europe overrun by the Nazis. The narratives of, for instance, Aharon Appelfeld and Ida Fink evoke life in the shadow of the ideology that called for an extirpation-physical, genetic, and cultural-of Jews and Gypsies (and, according to Hitler s master plan, eventually other peoples as well)-they are an intrinsic part of Holocaust literature. 3 By contrast, Soviet narratives of life outside prisons and camps, though in their shadow (in particular, the memoirs of Nadezhda Mandelstam, the widow of the poet Osip Mandelstam), form contexts for Gulag literature rather than a part of that corpus. My focus is on literary works, memoiristic or fictionalized, in which firsthand witnesses represent the common feature of the Soviet and Nazi systems of oppression-the network of concentration camps. Each camp system provides a context for the other, and this relationship also extends to the narratives of survivors.
This study combines close readings of individual works with historical contextualization. The analysis is intercontextual : each of the two literary strands is seen as a context for the other.
A Lesser Evil?
The term concentration camps stems from the Spanish-Cuban notion of reconcentration , that is, relocating the nodes of the rural population to prevent civilians from extending support to guerilla fighters. In a recognizable form, concentration camps were first introduced by the Spanish troops in Cuba in 1896 and even in earlier colonial antiguerrilla warfare (see Scheipers 2015; Smith and Stucki 2011; and Stucki 2018); then they were resorted to in 1900 by the British in the Boer War. 4 They mainly functioned as an administrative measure against potential , rather than actual, opponents; the population of entire villages was interned. The aim was to cut the militants off from their resource platforms, but the supplies made available to the interned population were insufficient and did not compensate for disrupting the traditions of material culture that had maintained the members of the communities in a reasonable state of health. The result was a very high mortality rate, especially among children.
This etiology of the word (re)concentration was soon forgotten, and concentration came to be perceived as nearly synonymous with condensation , or gathering together. Both in Cuba and in South Africa, gathering people together in crowded facilities involved lethal neglect and privation, deliberate or caused by the hastiness of the moves. This pattern, a side effect of relocation-or perhaps, for the perpetrators, its bonus-would recur throughout the history of concentration camps. 5
Though concentration camps were both symptomatic and productive of large-scale misery, in their infancy they were sometimes perceived as signs of progress in moral practice, 6 or at least a lesser evil in comparison with the take-no-prisoners civil war principles, or what is now called ethnic cleansing. In the first years of Soviet rule, the term concentration camps was still free from the odium that it would acquire later. In an order of June 4, 1918, Trotsky demanded that the mutinous Czechoslovak prisoners of World War I be detained in concentration camps (see Heller and Nekrich [1982] 1986, 66). It is not clear what kind of bivouacs Trotsky imagined. In his 1930 autobiography, My Life , for example, the chapter dealing with his quite comfortable detention in Canada in 1917 is called In the Concentration Camp. Despite his belief in the need for revolutionary violence, for Trotsky the idea of concentration camps engendered no cognitive dissonance with the progressive agenda.
Two months later, in August 1918, Lenin too recommended, along with the merciless mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guards, a seemingly milder measure- locking up of suspects in concentration camps outside the city (1970, 143-44). 7 This was a blueprint for the prophylactic use of concentration camps to incapacitate potential opponents of the regime-whereas the active opponents and members of such a priori marked groups as kulaks, priests and White Guards were to be subjected to the merciless terror of summary executions.
In Germany, on March 13, 1921, the V lkischer Beobachter , the propaganda organ of the Nazi party, printed Hitler s call: Let us stop the Jews from undermining our nation, if necessary by keeping their germs safely in concentration camps (Goeschel and Wachsmann 2012, 9). This did not switch on warning lights among his admirers, possibly because the camps were already a part of the German political lexicon, what with the memories of the collection camps ( Sammellager ) into which communists had been herded, to preempt insurrection, during the postwar crisis of 1919. Those camps were quickly shut down once the political crisis had ebbed (Overy 2005, 600), which helped to maintain the idea of the camp as a temporary, makeshift, nonlethal form of imprisonment. In his Holocaust novel Fateless , Imre Kert sz notes that, for young Hungarian prisoners, even on arrival in Auschwitz in 1944, the word camp was surprising but did not mean anything particularly frightening: The expression camp . . . was new to me but was quite understandable from the German word Lager (68). The word camp , in English and its equivalents in Russian and in German connote both roughing it and a relief from the hardship of travel, hunt, or march. 8 A camp is a makeshift way station for those who have left their usual habitat or else a temporary locus outside common social life. In its original sense, the word evokes both motion and stasis, travel and halting, exertion and rest. The uses of this word in the twentieth century have drastically changed its semantics so that an adjective (e.g., youth camp, summer camp ) has become necessary to allow it to keep its untainted early meanings. This shift is a path by which the poet Anthony Hecht moves toward the memorialization of the Holocaust victims in The Book of Yolek (see Pozorski 2016). And in part 4 of his 1970 poem A v eto vremia (In the meantime), the Soviet dissident writer Yuli Daniel wonders about the meaning of konts in kontslager (in Russian, the term for concentration camp is an abbreviation) and links it to the word konets (end). Thus, contscamps are the end-they put a stop to humanism, to emotional and spiritual life, to life itself. For many German civilians the notion of Konzentrationslager had acquired an ominous significance already in the second half of the 1930s, though its acronym KZ was sometimes ironically deciphered as Konzertlager (concert camps), a veiled reference to the shouts and the sounds of blows (Kempowski 1979, 23, 29).
The setting up of the camps meant that the regime had encountered a wider resistance than could have been contained by traditional prisons. In the tsarist Russian Empire, penal institutions could house about 200,000 inmates-fewer than one-tenth of Gulag prisoners in 1945. For ideological reasons, postrevolutionary Russia could not build new prisons. Under socialism the crime rate was supposed to fall since its social causes were expected to be eliminated, and the limited means available for construction were to be used on housing and industry. It was more politically correct to transfer the surplus prison inmates to would-be temporary facilities, such as vacated monasteries or manor houses, or hastily constructed barracks. 9 Actually, the relative cheapness of setting up such camps encouraged their proliferation. In Germany, fifteen years later, when habeas corpus was suspended through the Enabling Act after a pretext provided by the burning of the Reichstag on February 27, 1933 (see Dawidowicz [1975] 1976, 65-68), concentration camps, first referred to as protective custody, moved out of the Hitler s fantasies into reality. There too some of the early camps were set up hastily in derelict buildings, former pubs, sports grounds, hotels, and even on ships (Goeschel and Wachsmann 2012, 4). Soon enough, more stable barrack camps were custom made.
The history of the Gulag involved the consolidation of the temporary facilities in fortified complexes (in particular, on the Solovetsky Islands in the late 1920s), followed by their spread (aptly compared in Solzhenitsyn s The Gulag Archipelago to that of metastases) and the gradual codification of rules and practices. The condition of prisoners depended on the specificities of the political situation, on the climate, on the luck of being sent to a veteran camp rather than to a new improvisational one, on the camp s location (in the center or periphery of camp complexes), on the kind of forced labor (canal building, mining, lumbering, construction, or, if one was fortunate, agricultural, medical, or office work), on the fluctuating ratio of the supply and demand of labor, on a strong or diluted presence of criminal convicts, and on the character or vested interests of local chiefs. The fluidity of the conditions, within a smaller and darker range, was even greater in Nazi concentration camps, whose history unfolded over a shorter period and whose victims had a much shorter average life span.
In both cases, however, the initial sense of the makeshift nature of camps and their partly or wholly extrajudicial standing promoted arbitrary rule and random atrocities, along with systematic ones. The fate of ordinary prisoners, en masse, was frequently decided by the weighing of expediences in some higher echelons, impenetrable to individual victims. This is the theme that runs through the passages from the Holocaust and Gulag literature discussed in the following section. To illustrate how the reading of Gulag literature can affect our reading of Holocaust texts and vice versa, I shall now turn to one of their shared topoi-the motif of arbitrarily changing orders.
Example: The Topos of Changing Orders
In the third chapter of Fateless , the Hungarian writer and Holocaust survivor Imre Kert sz (1929-2016) tells of something strange ([1975] 1992, 31). The protagonist-narrator, a Budapest teenager on his way to work in the oil refinery on Csepel Island, is taken off a bus along with the other Jewish passengers. He does not realize that they are being arrested and that their destination is either an execution site or prison. There is just one policeman in charge at this particular city border post, and he has turned it into a game: those taken off the earlier buses have been told to hide and enjoy the bewilderment of the new arrivals. The victims understanding of the serial character of the operation is thus delayed. The nice policeman does not seem to really know what to do with the growing mass of people-he has not received further orders. As if to protect the assembled Jews from the elements, he suggests that they go to the nearby customhouse. This is their first captivity, but they are slow to understand it, especially when the policeman appeals to their intelligence and discipline (33). 10 No one tries to escape yet. The wait is irksome, though they have been told that the impending document check is just a formality. By the end of the workday the policeman gets new orders by telephone: We overheard his hurried voice coming from his room, referring to some change of plans (40). Eventually, the whole group is marched to the city in a column, which blends with similar columns coming from other border posts. During this beautiful clear summer afternoon, a dissonance is produced by the reactions of the passersby- a kind of hurried, hesitant, almost furtive curiosity (41). Then a streetcar wedges in, and a few adults from the column use the confusion to escape. The protagonist does not understand why they should do so-for fun? He does not follow suit: I had enough time for it, but still my sense of honor proved to be the stronger of the two urges (42). In other words, the protagonist-narrator s upbringing makes him regard fleeing from the column as indecorous, dishonorable, and perhaps indecent. 11
The columns are taken to a makeshift prison-in hindsight, a threshold of hell. 12 What had the change of orders been? Logistics of the march or the decision to send the workforce to concentration camps rather than straight into the Danube? 13 These alternatives are not present in the mind of the protagonist. Rather, the implications of the change-of-orders topos would be recognized by the informed reader.
A change in orders is also implied in the following recollection of the Gulag prisoner A. P. Butskovsky. 14 In December 1953 he was transferred to Camp Nevelskoy, to work on the construction of a dock on the shore of the Strait of Tartary. A tunnel to Sakhalin was to be built under the strait; the project was eventually discontinued. There was no stopping the rumor that this was the end of the line for us, that we were to die here building this dock. We got no letters, and all links with the outside world were cut off (Solzhenitsyn 2010, 199). Evidently, the construction was meant to be secret. Then something strange happened:

One day we were taken into a small ravine with cliffs on either side; they set up machine guns on the heights and aimed them at us. I don t know what they had in mind for us, but in any case they kept us here a very long time. Our guards fell back much farther than they normally did. We didn t do any work that day. They might even have been checking how they could bury us after an execution. In any case, something was being planned against the politicals.
Two days after that incident we learned about the arrest of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Beria. The camp administration was in some confusion, but it was ready to carry out an order to eliminate political prisoners. (199)

Someone in command must have sensed a change in the wind and did not sanction the massacre. 15 The prisoners could not have been aware that the massacres of remaining captives of Nazi camps before the Allies could liberate them were planned and partly implemented in 1945, as were the massacres of NKVD prisoners in territories about to be occupied by the Nazis in 1941. 16 At the time of composition, however, the memoirist was likely to have known at least about the massacres perpetrated by the Nazis. Tellingly, Butskovsky records no feeling of relief when the prisoners are led away from the ravine. Rather, his memory seems to be petrified, replicating, as it were, the fatigue of his body and the frozen state of his soul when he received a reprieve from speedy death, whether or not he understood it. His memoir suggests by omission what other survivors deal with explicitly: the muted response to being reprieved as part of the complex problem of a goner s surface indifference to life and death. I shall return to this in chapter 5 .
The two change-of-orders episodes, initiating a descent into inferno in Kert sz s book and, conversely, foretelling the regime s end game in Butskovsky s memoir, share a number of semiological features. One of them is the helplessness of the victims-physical, psychological, and cognitive. Their fate is being decided in distant quarters, by the local adherents of the F hrerprinzip , who intuit and align themselves with the leaders unstated policies and translate them into commands. Indeed, the murders were a matter of decisions under circumstances that would have allowed for other responses as well. 17 Another feature, a literary topos in its own right, is the victims semiotic perplexity , implicitly contrasting with the memoirists hindsight: the narration involves submerged catalogs of signs and symptoms that call for deciphering. In Kert sz s book, the horrible is beginning to happen, and the protagonist is in denial about its signs. But could he, in his teens, have known or imagined such developments so far outside his cultural horizons? His very strengths, the features that he is proud of, defeat him-his sense of honor, his habits of propriety, and his culture overlapping with that of the authorities prevent him from trying to flee. Bewilderment turns him into a sheep led to slaughter. 18 The story of his arrest might, moreover, double as an indirect comment on the nonresistance of Soviet citizens during their arrests: decorous conduct (deplored by Solzhenitsyn in the first chapter of The Gulag Archipelago ), the sense-of-honor self-delusion, valorization of the kul turnost of body language (see Dunham 1976, 19-23), and a reluctance to recognize the finality of the change. Conversely, the elision of the expected sense of relief in the stories of the reprieved Gulag prisoners may be a comment on the troubled representation of the release from concentration camps in the memoirs of Holocaust survivors.
The narratives do not merely shed light on one another but also comment, albeit indirectly, on broader issues. The hide-and-surprise game in Kert sz s text is symbolic: the victims are manipulated to participate in deceiving and betraying themselves and their fellow victims, knowingly or unwittingly collaborating with the perpetrators-an insistently recurrent concern in Holocaust narratives. The reader of Kert sz s well-crafted novel has to decipher the semiotics of the episodes but is likely to register their symbolic load directly. The reader of Butskovsky s straightforward memoir, however, can appreciate the congruence of the narrative stance with the weight of the recorded human experience. The sense of difficulty overcome-one of the sources of our spontaneous appreciation of the artistic merit of a work-is here associated not merely with the axiological appropriatedness of the form of expression but also with the caliber of the experience rendered: the feat of survival and the courageous summoning of one s vital forces to relive the past and bear witness. The intentness commanded by such texts makes it hard for us to separate our moral outrage at the events narrated from our appreciation of the quality of the telling.
Literature and Historiography
The main primary sources discussed in this book are literary narratives by former prisoners of concentration camps. 19 When such narratives first appeared, they were read primarily for the facts. These days, when sources for factual information are ample, literary scholars feel justified in focusing not only on the content of literary testimony but also on the narrative features that allow it to bring home to us those aspects of human experience that elude historiographical discourse. Literary testimony is multifunctional: its aesthetic appeal combines with pragmatic functions, such as attesting, consciousness raising, and context emendation (see Toker 2000, 7-8). The relative dominance of the different functions changes in the process of individual or collective reception, but in the most effective of literary testimony, the relationship between them remains that of mutual support.
The value of survivor narratives as historical testimony has not always been self-evident. Laying the groundwork for Holocaust historiography in The Destruction of European Jews (1961), Raul Hilberg abstained from including even strictly factographic survivor memoirs among his sources, considering them subjective and unreliable. Since the mid-1960s-that is, since the turn to survivor testimony registered extempore by Elie Wiesel (1970, 7) and comprehensively discussed by Annette Wieviorka in The Era of the Witness ([2002] 2006)-the imbalance between archival and narrative sources has been redressed. For example, Saul Friedl nder s two-volume Nazi Germany and the Jews (1997, 2007) makes use of both. Conversely, early studies of the Gulag were massively indebted to survivor narratives because of the paucity, inaccessibility, and unreliability of archival materials before the 1990s (and in the recent decade). Moreover, in the history of the collective memorialization of the Gulag, it was fiction rather than memoir literature that played the central role. The first texts on Gulag experience to be published in the Soviet Union (rather than abroad) after the public condemnation of Stalinist crimes at the Twenty-Second Congress of the Communist Party in 1961 were fictional-Solzhenitsyn s 1962 novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Georgy Shelest s short story The Nugget ( Samorodok ). 20 Though these works were followed by a trickle of memoir literature in the Soviet press, the next major event in the history of Gulag literature was the samizdat circulation of Varlam Shalamov s short stories.
The virtual master narrative of the camps needs both historiography and survivor narratives. For example, when discussing the strikes and rebellions in the Gulag in 1953-55, former prisoners tend to attribute these events to the changed demography in the camps ( GA 5, chap. 2) or to the fact that the improved rations allowed the prisoners food for thought (Scholmer 1954, 232-33). 21 Historical research supplements this by foregrounding acute personnel shortages in remote camps-more than ever before, such camps served as the last refuge for officers and managers of the Gulag who had become hopeless alcoholics and moral degenerates (Ivanova [1997] 2000, 175) and whose corruption and abuses of authority were often the last straw (175-80). The present study takes historical research into account, but its methods and materials are literary, and the pieces of the mosaic that it puts together come mainly from survivor narratives. 22
Studies of life writing (e. g., Olney 1980; Eakin 1985, 1999) show how the pragmatic goals of each work of documentary prose and the self-protective workings of the writers memory may influence the content of the testimony. However, in the process of reading documentary prose or narratives of testimony, one tends to accept their content as accurate-so long as it is not proved otherwise by other sources or subjected to doubt by their internal features.
Comparison and Traces of Entanglement
A number of historical studies have compared the types of political persecution and genocidal waves for which Stalin s and Hitler s regimes were responsible. 23 Many literary-critical studies have been devoted to the testimony of the victims of both these regimes. 24 The present analysis focuses on those cases where the two bodies of literature about concentration camps provide helpful contexts for each other-where what is clear in one literary corpus sheds light on what is obscure in the other. Insofar as literary works double as historical testimony, this comparative method may add to our understanding of the particulars of the prisoners experience, as well as of the potentialities of narrative representation.
This intercontextual method leaves space for alertness to the effects that the two strands of history, as well as the two literary corpora associated with them, exerted on each other. In the survey of the rise of the Soviet and Nazi camps in chapter 1 , I note the possibility of entanglements between the developments of the two camp systems. 25 Chapter 2 traces entanglements between the two strands of literature, the narratives of the Gulag and the narratives of Nazi camps, in the process of mutual, one-sided, or deferred observation-entanglements as persistent and deep-seated reactions to the other side (Fox 2012, 4). The chapters that follow involve close analyses of texts from the Gulag corpus in the context of materials about Nazi camps, or vice versa-texts from the Holocaust corpus in the context of information about the Gulag. Some of the chapters juxtapose accounts of homologous experience in the two camp systems. With the passage of time and changes in the generations of readers, these narratives become less self-explanatory; one of the aims of my analysis is to provide a partial compensation for the growing obscurity of their references.
Every declarative sentence that one speaks or writes leaves out more than it grasps. Nevertheless, the Holocaust negates the equation between understanding and simplification; it resists the belief that any this can be fully understood without attending to virtually every that (Petropoulos and Roth 2005, xix). This statement is no less true of the Gulag: what it was like in the camps cannot be fully reconstructed through imagination or grasped by analytic reason. The inevitable complexities of judgment and of suspending judgment demand humility in writing about camp experience. 26 On the other hand, any rediscovered factual detail and any responsible mental operation in the processing of the material may complicate, refine, or modify our model approximations of concentration-camp experience and its contexts, or at least improve the ethical sensitivity of our discourse on this subject.
Drawing analogies is among the most perilous of analytic procedures: if all cats are gray, it is because the perceiver is benighted. Yet it can be justified if, as noted earlier, the prominent features of one of the terms provide a comment on the veiled features of the other. That which is explicit in the semiotics of the narratives of Nazi camps can elucidate what remains inchoate in the literary processing of the Gulag-and conversely, that which is systematically explored in the literature of the so-called red camps may remain understated or overlooked in the literature about the so-called brown ones. The nature of some of their shared features was clearer to prisoners of the Nazis because of the greater intensity of the phenomena in question. Others were more prominent in the Gulag because of the greater length of time in which they were unfolding.
J rgen Kocka describes comparison as discussing two or more historical phenomena systematically with respect to their similarities and differences in order to reach certain intellectual aims (2003, 39). Much depends on what those intellectual aims may be. The legitimate ones- heuristic, descriptive, analytical, and paradigmatic (39) are to be distinguished from the agenda of competitive suffering and similar struggles over social capital. The purpose of my comparison is predominantly heuristic: to identify questions and problems that one might miss, neglect, or just not invent otherwise (40). 27
Whether or not the Nazi and Soviet authorities learned from each other s tutelary or monitory examples, the place and function of the camps in each regime was in some measure affected by reciprocal observation and transfer (cf. Patel [2003] 2005, 18). Things that were unthinkable in one of the systems may have become thinkable because practiced in the other. In particular, at overlapping periods and eventually in overlapping spaces (see Snyder 2010, 377), the totalitarian regimes responsible for the Gulag and the KZ created a moral climate for each other, despite the differences in their discourse and their proclaimed ultimate goals. The fact that some features of the institutions and of the existential positions of their inmates are clearly evident in one of the systems and camouflaged in the other usually also carries a semiotic load: distinctions compete with analogies for moral attention.
The issue of the legitimacy of comparisons is complicated by the Holocaust-uniqueness debates that have consumed much intellectual energy in recent decades. 28 I disagree with Tzvetan Todorov s view of decorum, according to which a Gentile must emphasize the uniqueness of the Holocaust whereas a Jew should focus on its similarity to various genocides. All the terms in this chiasmus- Jew, Gentile, uniqueness, similarity -are sweeping generalizations. The label unique , as in the Holocaust is a unique event, is language-bound, overused, and nearly meaningless unless philosophically defined. As Yehuda Bauer has pointed out, insistent arguments on both sides of the issue are paths to different kinds of mystification (1978, 23-24). There are prominent features that single the Holocaust out from other atrocities, such as the Armenian genocide of 1915 or the Rwanda genocide of 1994. In addition, there are certain features of the Stalinist Great Terror that find themselves repeated in Yugoslavian camps and in Pol Pot s Cambodia, as well as in Chinese, Vietnamese, and North Korean labor camps, 29 but these features do not recur as a full syndrome. Those other catastrophes developed singular ( uniquely atrocious) syndromes of their own: Every country and every region has its own Sonderweg (Kocka 1999, 48). Sustained attention to the history and the significance of each is a moral imperative for both research and memorialization.
Frequently concomitant with the debate about the uniqueness of the Holocaust is a tendency to obfuscate the specifically Jewish experience of World War II. Attempts to downplay the fact that the Jewish people were the first and immediate targets of the Nazis were systematic in the Western media of the 1950s and, for a different though overlapping set of reasons, in the Soviet media until the mid-1980s (see Epelboin and Kovriguina 2012; Toker 2013a and 2013b). This tendency is now fashionable in the so-called progressive discourse and even in some of the official statements of politicians (e.g., Catherine Ashton s remarks on the International Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2014). Their subtext is often antisemitic. 30 However, the very fact of the uniqueness debate and the widespread tendency to use the Holocaust as a basis for comparisons point to the ways in which it haunts collective memory despite sundry defenses. One of the defenses against that specter was the Historikerstreit , the debate among German historians that erupted in the 1980s, sparked by a reluctance to see Germany as responsible for an incomparable crime and hence by the preference for seeing this crime as one in a historical series of war crimes and crimes against humanity, prominently including those of Stalin s regime. 31
In the Jewish discourse the problem of the uniqueness of the Holocaust is sometimes reformulated in terms of the history of the specifically Jewish suffering: Was the Shoah merely a part of the history of Jewish catastrophes, including the destruction of the first and the second temples? Did it merely continue the line of massacres that wound through York, Mainz, Nemerov, and Kishinev? Or was it a qualitatively different event (see Edrei 2007, 39-54)? Ultraorthodox communities in Israel sometimes mark the Holocaust on the tenth of the month of Tevet, when it is customary to say the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. However, the mainstream and officially legislated Memorial of the Catastrophe and Heroism (Shoah ve-gevurah) is on the twenty-seventh of the month of Nissan, associated with the Warsaw ghetto uprising. 32 A gap between the past and the future hovers between these two dates, standing, respectively, for an attempt to create a memorial for the Holocaust that views it as part of the continuity of Jewish history and an attempt to create a memorial that views it as a cataclysmic event representing the beginning of a radically new era in Jewish history (Edrei 2007, 44), an era marked by the massiveness of the destruction but also by the Jewish secular self-determination and the establishment of the state of Israel.
The most prominent among the features of the final solution is the fact that the goal was total extermination. Not a single Jewish man, woman or child was to survive, or-except for a few who were well-hidden or overlooked-would have survived had Hitler won the war because Jewish birth was sufficient cause to merit torture and death ; this goal may have been an end in itself rather than a pragmatic project serving such ends as political power or economic greed (Fackenheim 1982, 12). Still, when Fackenheim notes that to link Auschwitz with Hiroshima is not to deepen or widen one s concern with humanity and its future but to evade the import of Auschwitz and Hiroshima alike (1982, 12-13), one is left asking in what sense-causal, rhetorical, or other-the word link is used. I propose to reverse the issue. Instead of linking the Gulag and the Holocaust for the sake of broadening our concern with humanity, 33 and taking care not to trivialize the Gulag or normalize the Holocaust, I examine the ways in which our understanding of each specific phenomenon can be improved by insights suggested by its identifiable counterpart.
The political import of the uniqueness debate has changed under the influence of postcolonial studies, as well as studies of slavery. In his 2009 Multidirectional Memory , Michael Rothberg rejects the zero-sum game in which scholarly attention to one of the issues is believed to come at the expense of the other (see also Craps and Rothberg 2011), while also showing the entanglement between the historical strands in question. Collective memory of the Holocaust need not be crowding the memory of African American history out of the public space of American collective consciousness (Rothberg 2009, 2). 34 One might add that public consciousness in Europe and beyond would be demeaned by any denial of its ability to hold the memory of the Holocaust without prejudice to the memory of the Armenian genocide, the Gulag, or the Ukrainian Terror Famine (the Holodomor). Comparing the incomparable, to borrow the title of Marcel Detienne s 2000 book, 35 need not be detrimental to the terms in the juxtaposition. Nor need there be a straight line running from memory to identity (Rothberg 2009, 4). Cultural identity is a shortcut to the semiology of each of these subjects as it facilitates the reading of signs, while awareness of one s own cultural identity and that of the other helps to deautomatize one s response to their coding.
Factography and Narrative Technique
So long as survivor narratives are treated not as transparent channels toward historical truth but as facts in their own right (C. Ginzburg 1992), and so long as they are not our only sources for the knowledge of historical facts, they are a major aid in our attempts to understand the human experience behind statistical and historiographical statements. They assist our imagination, extend our cognitive reach, and call for revisions or adjustments in our ethical stance.
As noted earlier, when the narratives of camp veterans were the major source of public awareness of the Gulag, literary scholars tended to feel uneasy discussing their artistic features (e.g., Howe 1963, 19; Erlich 1973, 16-17), even though the artistic strength of the major works enhanced their consciousness-raising function. This problem was largely rendered moot after archival material became accessible, but a new issue arose. In the eyes of many a doctoral history student, survivor narratives were again discredited by their erroneous numerical estimates of the total number of prisoners in Soviet concentration camps. Indeed, memoirists tended to estimate the numbers as running, at the worst times, at 15 million, 36 but archival research shows that they hardly exceeded 2.7 million inmates at the same time. (Error is possible because of the numbers of prisoners in transport at every moment and because of the falsifications of statistics in camp records.) Yet the difference between 15 million and 2.7 million should not divert one s attention from the magnitude of the latter number in its own right or from the thought of the individuals that make up that number, of their families, of their broken lives. Nor should it exempt us from remembering the mortality-and-replenishment pattern in the functioning of the camps as slave labor institutions or from taking into account the six- or seven-digit number who died by execution, torture, or neglect in transit before they ever reached the camps. The reasons for the memoirists wrong estimates are, in themselves, a possible subject for analysis. We are helped here by Alex Weissberg s explanation (1952, 314-15) on how, as an inmate in Kharkov prisons, he arrived at the calculation of 8 to 9 million arrests during the Great Terror or by Julius Margolin s chapter Square 48 showing how he calculated 15 million camp inmates throughout the country. Whatever psychological mechanisms may have promoted mistaken numerical estimations in survivor writings, such errors need not discredit these writings in other ways. Documentary evidence on the statistics, structure, regulations, and local logistics of the camps can give us guidelines to imagining what it was like to be caught up in them, but without survivor testimony such imagination will be wide off the mark, if only because what the survivors mean by the terms hunger, thirst, cold , or shoes is not the same as what we associate with such words in our everyday lives. 37
In a much-quoted passage Primo Levi writes:

Just as our hunger is not that feeling of missing a meal, so our way of being cold has need of a new word. We say hunger, we say tiredness, fear, pain, we say winter and they are different things. They are free words, created and used by free men who lived in comfort and suffering in their homes. If the Lagers had lasted longer a new, harsh language would have been born; and only this language could express what it means to toil the whole day in the wind, with the temperature below freezing, wearing only a shirt, underpants, cloth jacket and trousers, and in one s body nothing but weakness, hunger and knowledge of the end drawing nearer. (1990, 129)

Similar points are made also by Charlotte Delbo, Robert Antelme, and Sara Nomberg-Przytyk. 38 In the Gulag corpus, at the beginning of the essay The Green Procurator, Shalamov translates the issue from vocabulary items to the values attached to them: Values shift here, in Kolyma, and any one of our concepts-even though its name may be pronounced in the usual way and spelled with the usual letters-may contain some new element or meaning, something for which there is no equivalent on the mainland. Here everything is judged by different standards . . . and the meaning of every word has changed (1994a, 343). 39 In the chapter Camp Neurosis of his memoir Journey into the Land of the Ze-ka , Margolin likewise writes that in the camps both people and things were distorted into ugliness and that words such as man-culture-home-work-radio-dinner-cutlet did not have the same meanings as outside the barbed wire (2016, 2: 53). By plunging into the world conjured up by narratives, one can get a clearer view of the semantic shifts that regular words underwent in the camps. Camp memoirs can also help both a lay reader and a historian to decipher the codes of official newspeak. Mainly, however, literary narratives bring home to the reader those aspects of camp experience that evade language (see Lothe, Suleiman, and Phelan 2012, 8-11), since complicated artistic structure, created out of language material, enables the transmission of the volume of information that is totally impossible to convey by just the means of linguistic elementary structure (Lotman 1998, 23). At the end of Shalamov s On Tick, the narrator sees how criminal convicts murder his partner, a political prisoner with whom he has been sawing firewood for the criminals barracks and getting paid in leftover soup. This famous story starts with the sentence They were playing cards on Naumov s berth in the barracks for the mine s horse-drivers (1994a, 5), a subversive allusion to the opening of Pushkin s tale The Queen of Spades - Once they played cards in the apartment of the cavalerist Narumov. The word once is meaningfully elided in Shalamov s text: the event is a serial occurrence; that is, it happened not once but many times, though we do not know it on the first reading. The injection of a canonical motif into the description of the camp setting prepares the reader, with deliberate insufficiency, for the violent climax of the story. In classical literature, the losing-gambler topos usually involves the death or insanity of the gambler; here, however, it is a third party who perishes. First-time readers are struck by the fact that a human being can be killed because he objects to being robbed of his sweater. One is jolted even more strongly, however, by the placid coda of the story-we expect that on witnessing the murder, the narrator will express some traditional humanitarian sentiments, but his conclusion is different: I would have to look for another partner to saw wood with (Shalamov 2004b, 1: 53). Not only does the narrator fail to protest or to feel outrage-he does not even consider keeping away from the criminals in the future. This is what shakes the reader-the protagonist-narrator s lack of shock or surprise when the murder takes place. The jolt brings home to us what hunger meant in the camps and how chronic starvation affected values. The reader is thus forced to draw disturbing inferences: (1) events such as the one described must have been common in the camps; (2) the traditional humanitarian values of the Russian intelligentsia are irrelevant to the social relationships formed in the camps; and (3) to reach the stage of indifference signified by the last sentence of the story, the protagonist must have undergone some unfamiliar prolonged suffering that has led to a personality change. The story s subversive allusions, its arousal and thwarting of expectations, dedramatization of lethal violence, and painful surprise suggest the qualitatively different somatic/emotional state of a depleted prisoner, an inmate of a qualitatively different universe. We are guided to suspend habitual judgment and attune our attention to a new referential weight of familiar words and motifs. 40
Whereas Solzhenitsyn tended to ease the reader into camp experience by degrees, in On Tick, placed at the beginning of Kolyma Tales , Shalamov staged a radical clash between the readers conventional expectations and camp realities. The art of documentary prose can involve both these methods of handling distance, along with dramatic heightening, symbolism, gaps, paradoxes and self-contradictions, irony, repetition, parallelism and antithesis, and other narrative techniques. The art of documentary prose is also a matter of the stunning occasional poesy of Primo Levi s narrative, the midrashic reverberations of Elie Wiesel s language, the philosophically weighted word choices in Shalamov s low-key style, and even the stridency of Ka-Tzetnik. In reading Shalamov or Elie Wiesel or Primo Levi or Gustav Herling, one is challenged to treat the narratives as factography but analyze them through methods applicable to fiction, asking questions that might be inappropriate in the cases of nonliterary attesting depositions or oral history.
At times, the very structure of the survivor s experience lends itself to some of the previously mentioned features of representation. A major source of the aesthetic effect of documentary prose can be found in the phenomenon that William Wordsworth singled out when, walking through cemeteries, he read epitaphs written not by poets but by ordinary people (1974, 48-99). What Wordsworth admired was the congruence of the mourner s stance and the individual epitaph s content. In survivor narratives such congruence is a matter of the relationship between the stance of a retrospective memoirist and the experience of his or her own former self as a depleted, deprived, humiliated prisoner whose inner life proceeds in ways that elude the language shaped by the practices of normal life. Paul Fussell has remarked that understanding the past requires pretending that you don t know the present. It requires feeling its own pressure on your pulses without any ex post facto illumination (1988, 24). Yet bracketing one s hindsight is of limited value in the study of survivor narratives, where hindsight interpenetrates attempts to reconstruct the extempore uncertainties of the struggle for survival. Most survivor narratives lay bare this double temporal perspective; in reading others it is often hard to decide which emotional responses pertain to real time and which are retrospective. Hindsight augments the inevitable distance between the prisoner-protagonist and the retrospective narrator, yet it may offer partial compensations to the reader, both for the pain of what one learns and for the insurmountable insufficiency of understanding.
The survey of the rise of the Gulag and Nazi concentration camps undertaken in chapter 1 stops at the point when they developed relatively stable regularities. The survey, occasionally referring to literary works that deal with different aspects of that history, is alert to the possibility of entanglements between the two strands of history enmeshed in the same zeitgeist. One of the features of that zeitgeist, not a prioritarian factor but a common denominator of sociocultural developments behind mass repressions and genocides, was, I believe, an endemic fear of the scarcity of food and resources for what the totalitarian regimes regarded as their base communities, a fear that led the ruling powers to inflict starvation on others (defined in racial, national, or sociopolitical terms), redistributing, as Timothy Snyder has put it in respect to Hitler s policies of 1941-42, not food but hunger (2015, 194). 41 Slow starvation, the main scourge of the concentration camps, was not merely a matter of negligence but a deliberate measure; it served the terror discipline in the camps while also channeling scarcity to the excluded and, as much as possible, away from the chosen. Chapter 2 sketches the history of the entanglement of the two literary strands-Gulag literature and the literature about the Nazi concentration camps, contextualizing some of the major works of each corpus.
Most of the works discussed in the following chapters represent the camps in their developed state. From among the large library of survivor narratives, I have chosen for close attention instances where Gulag narratives and those of the Nazi Lagers provide indirect comments on each other. The choice was also partly influenced by the narratives literary merit.
Chapter 3 discusses the ways in which Holocaust and Gulag literature can shed light on each other s treatment of the issue of hunger. It deals with portrayals of what has become the symbolic embodiment (Barash 2007, 105) of the camps-the lethally or near-lethally depleted prisoner known as a Muselmann in Auschwitz and a dokhodiaga (a moribund goner ) in the Gulag. The key question of chapter 3 is to what extent the belief in the erasure of the Muselmann s inner life is justified: my argument is largely directed against this belief.
Chapter 4 deals with the representation of the other scourge of concentration camps-the long hours of forced labor, which speeded up the depletion of the prisoner s physical strength. Since this subject is particularly unwieldy for literary representation, the chapter also discusses narratological issues pertaining to literary testimony. Chapter 5 discusses representations of in-camp death-the fate of the drowned, those who did not survive the struggle for existence in concentration camps-as seen by survivors.
Chapter 6 turns to literary explorations of a paradigm of camp inmates resistant attitudes, from primary adaptation through the so-called secondary adjustment to active resistance. This paradigm is informed by a tension between the ethos of survival and the ethos of resistance both in the experience of the prisoners and in the literary-critical processing of that experience.
Chapter 7 reflects on the fate and function of traditional religious beliefs and of religiously held communist beliefs at the time of their bearers confrontation with camp realities. It opens with a discussion of the literary shape taken by protest theology in Elie Wiesel s works. The focus then shifts to what I call folk theodicy , the way ordinary people in the camps, people without theological training, attempted to explain the role of evil in their world.
Chapter 8 discusses the representations of the last days and the end of imprisonment, especially in narratives that subvert the convention of a happy ending. Chapter 9 juxtaposes texts in which the remembered camp experience is framed by the survivor s sense of shame and guilt.
The study ends with reflections on the different views regarding the perniciousness of the regimes that created the two camp systems, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding the dynamics of the production and reception of literary testimony.
1 . Owing to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn s monumental The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (1973), the Russian acronym Gulag for the Main Camp Administration is now applied not to the office itself but to the camps that it administrated.
2 . On different definitions of Gulag literature, see Toker (2000, 73-74).
3 . For strong arguments concerning why such literature is the literature of the Holocaust, why it is not peripheral to the accounts of the treatment of the captured Jews or Gypsies, see Harrison (2006).
4 . See Kotek and Rigoulot (2000, 47-129), on the early history of concentration camps. Algernon Swinburne compromised himself by a poem in callous defense of a British officer who had run such camps in South Africa-a pregnant reference to this is made in the library episode of Ulysses : The bloodboltered shambles in act five [of Hamlet ] is a forecast of the concentration camp sung by Mr. Swinburne (Joyce 2000, 240). See also Toker 2015. Swinburne s eulogy in fact responded to the outrage against the camps in a large part of the British public opinion.
5 . Lynne Viola s 2007 study of the deportation of peasants to Siberia and the North in the late 1920s and early 1930s is haunted by the question whether the neglect may have been deliberate. The issue comes to a head in the horrifying story of a large group of deportees left to starve on an island (Werth 2007).
6 . This impression may have been supported by vague memories of the camps prehistory in the British Empire, from workhouses in the metropole to famine, epidemic, vagrancy, and war camps in the colonies. These camps were established as humanitarian institutions meant to reduce worse suffering, but they can be interpreted (see Forth 2016 and 2017) as a bid to contain literal or metaphorical contamination. It must be added that in Aidan Forth s valuable 2017 study, critique of the imperialist tinge of British liberalism as expressed in such would-be benevolent institutions inadvertently slips into a baby-with-the-bathwater tendency to overextend the meaning of concentration camps as well as into downplaying Gulag s brutality and role in political repressions.
7 . Unless a published translation is referred to in the works cited, the translations throughout this study are mine.
8 . Indeed, Jonathan Hyslop (2011) connects the emergence of concentration camps with a certain stage in the development of military professionalization culture.
9 . The telltale use of school buildings for this purpose, as in the Tuol Sleng prison in Cambodia, seems to have been a later development, outside the Soviet Union.
10 . This episode is discussed by Tam s Juh sz (2009) as part of the topos of children s naive trust in treacherous adults in Holocaust literature.
11 . On the basis of their study of quite different material-protocols of surveillance of the German POWs-S nke Neitzel and Harald Welzer remark that standards of decency can become barriers to necessary strategies of survival. . . . Where survival is at stake, cultural baggage weighs heavy and occasionally proves fatal. . . . The main problem is perceived not as a threat to individual survival, but as a danger to established, symbolic, inviolable rules of behavior and status. A danger of this sort can appear so grave to those concerned that no way out is visible. In this sense, people can become victims of their own techniques for survival ([2011] 2013, 12). For the opposite side of this dialectic, in Varlam Shalamov s A Day Off, see Toker (1991).
12 . Kert sz s book is characterized by a systematic suppression of hindsight and by a curiously detached tone (Roskies and Diamant 2012, 279).
13 . Hungarian fascists shot great numbers of Budapest Jews on the bank of the Danube or drowned them in the river in the winter of 1944. This is the disnarrated (Prince 1988) of the episode-a development that does not take place in the narrative but hovers over it as an option that could have materialized. The event is memorialized by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay s monument Shoes at the Danube Bank , erected in 2005 (see Ionescu 2019, 268).
14 . The son of a peasant, Butskovsky (b. 1926) was arrested in 1950 during Stalin s postwar purge of the military forces. His memoir is included in Solzhenitsyn 2010, a collection of Gulag testimonies by ordinary people.
15 . See Bridgman (1990, 25), on a similar event in Auschwitz on January 24, 1945.
16 . NKVD, an acronym for the People s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, was a name for the political police at that time, following Cheka, OGPU, and GPU and preceding MVD and KGB.
17 . See Timothy Snyder s (2010, 218-19) comparison of Hitler s decision to exterminate the Jews in response to setbacks in the war against the Soviet Union and the decision of, for instance, the Romanian authorities, in view of the impending defeat, not to speed up but to brake the murderous drive against the Jewish population. A paradigm of responses to mass-execution orders, from evasion to the gusto of voluntary endorsement, is analyzed in Browning 1992.
18 . On the history of this problematic simile, relaunched by Abba Kovner in the Vilnius ghetto on January 1, 1942, see Feldman (2013). For a discussion (with some controversial details) of the way in which this rhetorical device in a battle cry turned into a tenacious antis metic stereotype of Jewish passivity, see Middleton-Kaplan (2014).
19 . These writers are what Yuval Noah Harari calls flesh witnesses (2008, 1-25; 2009)-people who did not merely observe the suffering that they attest to but who have been subjected to it.
20 . Solzhenitsyn (1975, 52) believes that the printing of this story in the daily Izvestiya on November 6, 1962 (no. 265), on the eve of the publication of Ivan Denisovich in Novy mir , was an attempt to reduce the impact of his narrative by defusing the sense of novelty. It must have been a matter of a power struggle between Khrushchev s son-in-law Alexei Adzhubei, the editor of Izvestiya , and the editor of Novyi Mir , the poet Aleksandr Tvardovsky. This was six years after Khrushchev s secret speech at the Twentieth Congress (1956) had sent shockwaves around the world but had not opened the floodgates of publication in the USSR itself.
21 . Here and throughout, the abbreviation GA refers to Solzhenitsyn s The Gulag Archipelago ; it is followed by part numbers (the seven parts deployed over three volumes) and chapter numbers, and, when necessary, by page references to the English edition.
22 . In chapter 4, devoted to Shalamov s ways of evoking the interminable hours of slave labor in the gold mines, I explain why works of fiction based on the authors experience can be read as historical testimony. (The as if convention of fictional writing is to a large extent neutralized by the sample convention often practiced in such narratives.) Chapter 9, dealing with representations of survivor guilt, also attempts to account for cases of the writers choice of the fictionalized rather than the directly factographic narrative mode.
23 . See, for instance, Conquest 1990, 195-206; Bullock 1993; Kershaw and Lewin 1997; Rousso 1999. For an entangled history of Stalin s and Hitler s regimes, see Laqueur (1965, 105-311), Snyder (2010 and 2015), and the collection of essays edited by Fox, Holquist, and Martin (2012).
24 . For example, Bernadette Morand s 1976 book places Gulag and Nazi Lager narratives within the broader genre of the writings of political prisoners; Terrence Des Pres s seminal The Survivor (1977) uses the two bodies of literature to construct the sociology of camp experience and revise the traditional values (of heroism or conformity) in its light; Alain Parrault s 1995 study juxtaposes several separate aspects of KZ and Gulag testimony; and Tzvetan Todorov s Facing the Extreme ([1991] 1996) offers further ethical reflections.
25 . See Kocka (2003) on the potential complementarity (by contrast to the hitherto observed tension) between clear-cut comparative approaches on the one hand and, on the other hand, contributions of historiography that traces the influences between the strands of history compared, namely, entangled histories, histoire crois e , Verflechtunsgeschichte , or Beziehungsgeschichte (see also Haupt and Kocka 2009).
26 . For reflections on this cognitive inaccessibility of the experience of the victims, see, for instance, Jurgenson (2003) and Liu (2009).
27 . My approach approximates the methods of heuristic comparison described in Bloch ([1928] 1963, 16-40). The historian Marc Bloch became a fighter in the Resistance in Nazi occupied France and was killed by the Gestapo in 1944.
28 . See the collection of essays Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives in Comparative Genocide , edited by Alan S. Rosenbaum, first published in 1996 and reprinted twice since; see also comments on the different views in, for instance, Godzich (2009, 134-38) and Gavriel Rosenfeld (2015, 78-121). The subject is academically slippery: even the collection Jewish Values in the Post-Holocaust Future: A Symposium ( Judaism 16, no. 3 [1967]: 266-99), with contributions by Emil Fackenheim, George Steiner, and Elie Wiesel, at some point turns into position statements. For a philosophical treatment of the issue of uniqueness, see Harrison (2015).
29 . For comparisons between the Gulag and the Chinese and North Korean camps, see M lhahn (2016) and Cho (2016), respectively.
30 . In the case of, for instance, part of British journalistic and political discourse, it is not so much Holocaust memory as the memory of Jews in the Holocaust that irritates the pseudo-universalists (Bogdanor 2013, 86).
31 . For useful overviews and contextualizations of the German historians debate, see Markovits and Noveck (1996, 435-37), Schmitz (2006, 96-100), G. Rosenfeld (2014, 36-42), and Ionescu (2017, 30-33). The documents of the debate are collected in Knowlton and Cates (1993).
32 . See Dina Porat (2013, 476), for an explanation of the historical contingencies that led Israel to choose this day for Holocaust remembrance. Its proximity to Independence Day is coincidental and should not be perceived as a confirmation of the causal link between the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel. As David Roskies (2012, xi) notes, the socialist Bund organization marks the Holocaust on April 19, the day of the start of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in the international calendar; different communities have their own dates.
33 . To adapt Marie L. Baird s remark regarding Todorov s comments on Primo Levi, truth about human nature should not have to be purchased at so high a price as concentration camps (2005, 203).
34 . Rothberg polemicizes with Walter Benn Michaels, the influential spokesman of the view of Holocaust studies as an alibi for not dealing with the atrocity of slavery. For a critique of Rothberg s own position, see Chaouat (2016, 124-39).
35 . In Comparer l incomparable Marcel Detienne emphasizes the use of what a literary critic may call selected micromotifs in joint studies of incomparable anthropological formations.
36 . The memoir of Nicholas Prychodko actually bears the title One of the Fifteen Million .
37 . Bernard Harrison rejects the mutual exclusiveness of the treatment of language as a device for describing the nature of empirical reality, with meaning seen as dependent on natural conditions, and of the view of meaning as determined internally to language, through the relations of words to one another (2011, 411). He delineates a third option: Meaning arises as a result of the roles assigned to linguistic expressions in the conduct of practices. The connection between language and reality . . . is forged not by a direct link between linguistic expression and item or aspect of reality, but by the multifarious ways in which practices engage with the complex realities revealed to us by experience (412); see the path to this conclusion in Hanna and Harrison (2004). The understanding of the semantic value of words that constituted the linguistic environment of camp inmates can only be approximated with the help of accounts of camp practices.
38 . Concentration-camp experience unveils a typology of knowledge that is incommensurable with other forms of epistemology because of the shift that the experience produces in regard to the connotations of the words (Consonni 2012, 192).
39 . Unless otherwise specified, the page references are to Shalamov s six-volume Collected Works (Shalamov 2004b). A partial English translation of the stories, by John Glad, is available (Shalamov 1994a); the date 1994 is given when I quote Glad s translations, as in the present instance. John Glad conducted a heroic fight for the publication of Shalamov s stories in English; for the history behind his translation, see Klots (2018). A new translation of the three cycles, by Donald Rayfield, titled Kolyma Stories (Shalamov 2018) has recently come out; it has the advantage of completeness (Glad s volume elides a number of stories), but its lexical choices are often controversial (see Nathans 2018, 36).
40 . As Carlo Ginzburg notes regarding early modern historiography, awareness of the literary and rhetorical dimensions of a text can provide a more solid basis to the referential ambitions (1999, 71) of factographic prose.
41 . Timothy Snyder s (2010) suggestion regarding the weight of ecological panic in Hitler s program of land conquest and extermination has come in for harsh criticism, especially by Walter Laqueur (2015). I read Snyder s (at times stylistically mischievous) narrative as suggesting that mid-twentieth-century atrocities were associated not with supply problems in their own right but with the totalitarian rulers belief that scarcity was looming.
1 The Gulag and Nazi Camps
From Improvisation to Stability
M OST OF THE literary works discussed in this book represent the experience of camp inmates at the period when the camps had reached their maturity, largely because it was even more difficult to survive in the camps that were still in the making. 1 Watchtowers, barbed wire, hunger, trigger-happy armed guards, viciously trained guard dogs, roll calls, brutal reveilles, workday ordeals, cold and hunger, bad footgear, and an assortment of Damoclean swords looming over the inmates featured in both the Gulag and Nazi camps in their stabilized condition. Literary representation, whether factographic or realistically fictional, implies a degree of semiotic stability and is therefore more suitable for bearing witness to the zones (as the camps were often referred to in Russia) in their relatively fixed form.
This chapter deals primarily with the fluid early stages in the history of Soviet and Nazi camps, before they reached the developed states on which most literary works tend to focus. It is mainly in the formative stages of the two camp systems that there seem to have been entanglements between their histories; their paths of development diverged at the end of the 1930s.
The histories of the Gulag and of the Nazi Lagers are entangled in the sense that both reflect one of the phenomenological features of twentieth-century zeitgeist: the zero-sum view of the racial, social, or cultural Other as a competitor for resources-of land, food, goods, social position, and cultural capital. The post-Malthusian, post-Darwinian fear of scarcity ( not enough for everyone ) tended to be dealt with by relegating the scarcity of food to them rather than to us, however they are defined. Starving the inhabitants of besieged cities had always been a military tactic, but its purpose was the surrender of the enemy. The sieges of the twentieth-century near-total wars, including the Holodomor (the artificial famine in Ukraine in the early 1930s) and the German blockade of Leningrad in World War II, aimed at the starvation rather than the surrender of the population. The problem of food supplies was not the cause of the emergence of concentration camps, but it must have been a factor in turning chronic hunger into their major feature. First arising out of an actual scarcity of provisions (especially in wartime), undernourishment of the prisoners was later almost institutionalized and came to serve multiple functions, from the stunting and terrorization of the inmates to their slow extermination.
In postrevolutionary Russia, expropriation of the so-called means of production (land, industry, trade facilities) was meant to provide a basis for the wealth of the emergent socialist state. With the development of socialism, ever wider circles of the population were expected to enjoy material and cultural well-being as their share in the resources of the country was expected to grow. 2 Concentration camps first held class enemies and their supporters, but they eventually became a receptacle for masses of peasant, worker, and intellectual victims of successive prophylactic purges. The expropriation of peasant holdings (dekulakization) and collectivization of agriculture that started in 1928 were supposed to increase food supplies; instead, the resulting waste, arbitrary rulings, and lack of incentive produced the opposite effect, which in turn created a need for scapegoats. The confiscated property of the arrested urban population did not suffice to raise the general well-being, yet the removals of high-ranking officials and their replacement by a new generation of servants of the regime (to be decimated in their turn) led, among other things, to the sense of social mobility and the concomitant hope of the spread of material comforts. In the meantime, radical privation was inflicted on those channeled to the camps. Solzhenitsyn darkly puns on kanal ( canal, pertaining to the White Sea-Baltic canal and later other canals built by prison labor) and kanalizatsia ( sewage-disposal ), his metaphor for the hidden flow of the victims of purges to the different islands of the Gulag Archipelago. In the late 1920s, with the realization that such punitive measures have created a slave-labor force, insufficiency of food supplies to the camps acquired a new meaning. Stalin and his henchmen amended the Marxist view of slave labor as uneconomic because of the lack of incentive: whereas slaves received flat sustenance and had no reason to exert themselves, the Gulag innovation was to deny the prisoners sufficient sustenance if they did not meet the production quota (Dallin and Nikolaevsky 1947, 99-103).
In Nazi Germany the first victims of the concentration camps of the early 1930s were political opponents, especially communists (Friedl nder 1997, 17). Their incarceration and torture were associated with the redistribution of sociopolitical and cultural power. Yet the specifically German version of the zeitgeist, a fertile soil for Hitler s ideology, was affected not only by the sense of the humiliation caused by the Treaty of Versailles but also by the memories of drastic food shortages owing to the Allies naval blockade of Germany during World War I. For a redistribution of material resources, the persecution of impecunious communists was useless; other victims were needed. Jews were readily at hand, and Hitler s antisemitic fervor converged with the Nazi regime s absolutization of short-term economic expediencies. The expropriation of Jewish capital was followed by a systematic effort to get rid of the newly created Jewish proletariat (247), through accelerated emigration, self-financing labor camps, and increasingly darker solutions. 3
Lootings and genocides are as old as history (see Kiernan 2007), but in what Erik Hobsbawm called the age of extremes (1914-91), they took place despite the post-Enlightenment humanist ideals that were expected to put an end to them. The cultural specificity of the extremes of the twentieth century lay in their being associated not with an ignorance of such ideals but with the wish to overrule them, as in Himmler s Posen speeches 4 or in the Bolshevik calls for mercilessness to those who were believed to impede the construction of a brighter future. A Malthusian fear of scarcity (resources increase, as it were, in arithmetical progression, whereas the progression in population growth is geometrical) was not the direct cause of the ideologically sanctioned reversion to primitive brutalities, but it hovered in the background of acts of omission. The policy of under nourishing prisoners in concentration camps is one of a series of starvation events that could have been but were not averted. The others are the Great Famine associated with collectivization of agriculture in Kazakhstan during 1930-33, the artificial Holodomor famine in Ukraine (for which the Soviet propaganda blamed the would-be recalcitrant victims themselves), Hitler s starving of Soviet POWs (a residue of his initial Hunger Plan for the population of his projected Lebensraum , the European territories whose colonization Hitler regarded as necessary for German national well-being), and the Leningrad blockade. The series reflects the widespread but seldom acknowledged sense that scarcity, viewed as unavoidable, had to be shifted to the other. For Hitler, and in the moral climate he advanced, ecology was scarcity, and existence meant a struggle for land (Snyder 2015, 1). The fear of scarcity, in combination with social and racial interpretations of the survival of the fittest, proved to be a fertile ground for the rise of totalitarianism. It is phenomenologically recognizable (and prophetically allegorized in Dostoevsky s Legend of the Grand Inquisitor ) but not easily amenable to research. The literature of concentration camps allows its consequences to transpire by evoking the lethal hunger of millions of captives and its social and psychic effects.
Scientific revolutions take time to penetrate the ideological orientation of the public. The zeitgeist of modernity included a phenomenological lag between the advances of science and the general appreciation of their significance. Paradoxically, the scientific approach to dwindling resources, which Hitler insisted was a Jewish lie, held much more promise for Germans (and for everyone else) than an endless race war. Scientists, many of them Germans, were already preparing the way for the improvements in agriculture known as the Green Revolution, which would eventually make Europe face not food shortage but surpluses (Snyder 2015, 322). 5 Stalin s breakneck collectivization of agriculture, which led to the influx of peasants into the Gulag, was spurred not only by the fear of the relative economic and hence political independence of farmer-peasants but also by the danger of their withholding of food supplies to the cities in order to raise prices. As the 1935 memoir of Vladimir Tchernavin shows, the would-be temporary food shortages of the collectivization period were foreseen and dealt with by the overexploitation of the fishing industry; experts who insisted on an ecologically sound use of that asset were executed. The ecological panic (Snyder 2015, 322) of the interwar years was translated into class or racial warfare rather than into care for what is now called sustainability.
The xenophobically tinged fear of scarcity is alive today too; its shapes vary from the theoretical excesses of deep ecology, which regard the needs of humankind as detrimental to life on the planet, to all too practical genocidal recidives. Yet today there is hope: progress in the technologies of sustainability and the spreading appreciation of their goals, along with the lessons of the past, are likely to counteract zero-sum mind-sets, especially when cooperative projects show that the others, whoever and wherever they are, can be seen not as competitors for resources but as partners in reciprocal enhancement.
Concentration, Compression
The 1945 Yiddish poem Salamander, by a survivor of the Holocaust who would become the famous Israeli writer Ka-Tzetnik, begins as follows:

I burned in seven crematoria
without pause, in one place, for seven years,
my entire family s flesh herded and compressed,
and then Kommando: Fire, burn, Fire, desecrate, annihilate. 6

Yechiel Szeintuch interprets compressed as referring to a specific moment in the annihilation process when nothing is left of the family (his people) but a compressed piece of flesh within the gas chamber (2005, 112). The fire in the next line is the flame of the crematoria. In the translation, the English metaphor herded (absent in the original) is a reminiscence of like sheep to slaughter.
When the ghettos and concentration camps were first established, it was not yet understood that the compression of the inmates into their narrow spaces was a step toward the command to desecrate, annihilate. The stages distinguished by Raul Hilberg-identifying definition, expropriation, and concentration (1961, 43-174) as preparatory for the massive destruction of the victims-were, in fuzzier forms, part of the history of concentration camps at different times and places. Fear of scarcity made confiscation of property and status a linchpin of these processes.
On August 11, 1932, an article on the Nazi plans published in V lkischer Beobachter called for the concentric smoking-out of the deadliest districts and the accommodation of suspects and intellectual instigators in concentration camps (Goeschel and Wachsmann 2012, 9). The agricultural connotations of such notorious Nazi antisemitic metaphors as smoking out (fumigation) anticipated practical steps: smoking out meant hunting down. Almost as deadly is the Russian metaphor vreditel ( wrecker, a charge of sabotage under which great numbers of engineers and workers were arrested in the Soviet Union in the 1930s), which in its primary use pertains to an argricultural pest. Though the executive agenda contemporary with the spread of such metaphors was still that of the identification and expropriation of the perceived enemies and their concentration ( compression ) in the camps, the macrometaphor vrediteli attracted the motif of killing: the solution for pests is extermination. Under totalitarian regimes metaphors tend to be literalized.
Affiliations and Goals
In his 1993 study The Origins of the Gulag , Michael Jakobson represents the early history of the Soviet camps as a product of the tensions between three institutionalized goals: the segregation of the so-called enemies (the concern of the political police), the reeducation through labor (the concern of the People s Commissariat of Justice), and the economic self-sufficiency of the camps (the general administrative concern). 7 Segregation was the most consistent goal; it motivated the increasing sophistication in the techniques of isolating and guarding the prisoners. The goal of making the camps financially self-sustaining was eventually translated into the use of inmates as slave labor in grand national projects, such as digging canals, laying roads and railways, mining, and building whole new settlements and cities. 8 This was not a global novum- the use of the inmates of concentration camps as slave labor started in Namibia in 1904, toward the end of the Herero genocide by German forces. 9 But Soviet economic and punitive authorities were in no need of inspiration from another time and place: despite the specificities of each national Sonderweg (distinctive course), the history of forced-labor camps has its own grim dynamics, involving hunger, inordinate demands for labor, attempts to minimize the costs and maximize the profits, relatively swift physical depletion of the prisoners, violence, salvation through privileged jobs, and moral dilemmas to which a human being should never be exposed. 10
In the history of the early Nazi camps, a struggle for command was waged between the Ministry of the Interior and the paramilitary forces of the Nazi party-the SA (Sturmabteilung [Storm Department]) and the SS (Schutzstaffel [Protection Squadron]), whose troopers were unwilling to obey civilian authorities. This conflict translated into an unequal struggle between residual principles of legality represented by the ministry and the arbitrary rule of terror. In accordance with Hitler s will, the latter was victorious within a year. The camps soon fell under the control of the SS, when, after the Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934), many former SA camp guards suddenly joined their own victims in the camps, foreshadowing the purges in the NKVD (Soviet political police) after Beria replaced Ezhov as its head in 1939. Yet even earlier, in 1933, the SS would often capture people acquitted at trials and carry them off to administrative detention in the camps. It would also attempt to rebuff the state s investigations of its in-camp abuses, including murders of prisoners.
Whereas social upheavals always attract and promote the sadistically inclined, in the early Nazi camps sadism was encouraged as politically correct: humiliation and the routine mental and bone-breaking abuse of prisoners, in particular immediately after their arrival into the camps, are recorded in almost every memoir of KZ survivors, except accounts officially commandeered by the Nazi authorities. In his report of his experience in the Esterwegen camp, the German Jewish communist Alfred Benjamin writes: With vile insults which, for reasons of decency, one cannot even approximately reproduce, they tried to humiliate and insult us-in short, we were tormented by all imaginable means and methods. It should be said-because this will make various things more credible-that only SS men served as staff, moreover without exception people of no more than thirty, including some absolute sadists whose pleasure at ill-treating us can only be explained as sexual deviation (Goeschel and Wachsmann 2012, 35). Gulag memoirs, by contrast, foreground callousness rather than cruelty: they contain frequent references to brutality and occasional sadism but mainly as individual abuses rather than the essence of the system. Terror violence emerges as systematic mainly in the cases of a particularly large numerical disparity between the guards and the prisoners (between 5 percent before 1930 and 9 percent after the war [Ivanova (1997) 2000, 148]). Sadism on a mass scale was largely confined to the interrogation rooms of 1937-39 (and then again of the early 1950s), when the prisoners refusal to sign false confessions would expose the interrogators themselves to the fate of their victims; having to torment the prisoners out of self-preservation, many of the interrogators developed a liking for the process and a hatred of the recalcitrants. In the end, most of the torturers of 1937 were themselves arrested and tortured in an internal purge, whether on the pretext of spying or sabotage or for either insufficient or excessive zeal. 11
Moreover, the characteristic Russian kindliness often mitigated the rigors of the penal regime; at times so did the nonchalant inefficiency of some of the rank-and-file convoy and camp guards (see, for instance, E. Ginzburg [1967, 1979] 1985, 2: 84). In addition to contracted armed guards ( voenizirovannaia okhrana , abbreviated as vokhr ), considerable numbers of Soviet camp guards were regular conscripts. 12 Unlike their colleagues in the secret police, most of the nonmilitary camp officials were underpaid and prone to corruption. By contrast, the SS and, in 1933-34, the SA camp personnel were largely self-selected and happy to wreak revenge on those who may have prevailed against them in the street fights of the Weimar Republic. Beginning in April 1935, however, the official policies of Theodor Eicke sought to regulate the SS terror in the camps as a would-be disciplinary measure; officials developed a euphemistic newspeak for protracted-murder sadism. Their victims were people who seemed not likely to be avenged 13 and could be stripped of every human right and form of dignity. The peculiar male camaraderie (Sofsky 1993, 103-14) among the SS was further cemented by baiting-crowd glee, whether random or stimulated by erstwhile ressentiment, leading to the vengeful abuse of celebrities, such as the socialist journalist Max Sachs in Sachsenburg in 1937 (see Goeschell and Wachsmann 2012, 220-25). The victims could always be represented as undisciplined prisoners and their deaths as suicides or heart attacks; the causal connection between the deaths and the torture-abuse that preceded them would not be admitted. Soon the questions stopped being asked.
By contrast, in Gulag memoirs, sadism is represented not as typical but as typifying , that is, as made possible by the system (see Toker 2017, 134-36). 14 What Primo Levi (1988, 102-20) called useless violence was in the Gulag mainly dealt out to former high-ranking officials and celebrities, such as the theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold or the Spanish Civil War leader El Campesino-outbursts of celebrity baiting recurred throughout the history of Soviet culture. Though egalitarianism was ideologically banned for the period of the construction of the socialist society, a would-be prelude to communism, it reasserted itself in the form of resentment and schadenfreude, which in the penal system was often expressed in a more condensed way than in society as a whole. 15 Yet the history of human relationships in the Gulag was a matter of porous regularities rather than of watertight rules. This is also partly true of the Nazi camps, but the history of the Gulag was six times longer and its geography vaster and more variegated.
It has been suggested that in their early years, the Nazi KZ were the sites of the pursuit of an additional goal, that of conditioning, training, and testing the SS personnel. 16 This goal, along with the placing of the prisoners completely at the mercy of the SS and the Kapos (prisoner functionaries put in charge of groups of prisoners and expected to maintain discipline by brutal means), accounted for what Wolfgang Sofsky called the order of terror in the KZ. It was less characteristic of the Soviet system in which Gulag prisoners still had to be regarded by the authorities not only as enemies and pests but also as a workforce. The conditions of the prisoners were sometimes improved when production output decreased because too many prisoners fell ill, were lethally exhausted, and died. To some extent, this tendency could be observed in the KZ as well, but it was dwarfed by the agenda of extermination.
Both the Soviet and Nazi regimes produced their own terminologies for the mentalization of the new practices. Part of this newspeak was euphemistic, and its deciphering required semiotic proficiency.
The red and the brown camps were occasionally spot-checked by governmental inspection agencies. In the early Nazi camps, before their complete takeover by the SS, the judiciary was still allowed to investigate the deaths of inmates. On May 30, 1933, a report from the Munich State Prosecutor s Office said the following about the corpse of a prisoner ( Scholl Louis, 55, widower, merchant from Nuremberg ) who had been reported to have hanged himself in his solitary confinement cell in Dachau: A judicial post-mortem examination was performed the very same day. . . . Because, in the course of it, it was found that the corpse exhibited numerous weals on the body and because the cause of death seemed doubtful, an autopsy was performed on 17.5.33. According to the preliminary expert opinion death by hanging could not be proved. The extensive destruction of fatty tissue found was considered adequate for explaining the death by autointoxication and fat embolism (Goeschell and Wachsmann 2012, 15). In other words, the prisoner had been beaten to death. The latter expression is, however, not part of the forensic-medicine vocabulary any more than death by starvation is part of the Soviet postmortem reports, where, since World War II it was referred to as alimentary dystrophy ; office employees had to rely on a circumscribed standard vocabulary for causes of death in camp documentation (Razgon 1994, 14).
The previously mentioned report should be judged truthful, while its euphemistic newspeak provided an alibi for the target audience: the euphemisms left the readers the option of not visualizing the content. In a boastful 1934 report, the SA Sturmbannf hrer Werner Sch fer, commandant of the Oranienburg camp, refers to his men as having been for many years persecuted, for many years chased, beaten bloody, outlawed, expelled from their jobs and their homeland and finally getting their revenge as familiar faces of Oranienburg Marxists (Goeschell and Wachsmann 2012, 65) came under their power in the camps. His further comments (I elide the worst) explain what was actually meant by the official representation of the early camps as discipline-and-reeducation institutions: Accustomed to showing their contempt for us with truly loutish bearing and street gestures, they arrived-hands up to the elbow in their trouser pockets, caps pulled to the back of the neck or low into the face-and-within an instant they relearned . Rarely have I seen such wonderful educators as my old SA men, most of whom come from a proletarian background themselves, who were now accepting these especially loutish Communist bigmouths with exceptional dedication (65, my italics). The defiant conduct of the Social Democrats and Communists is here represented as loutish impudence. 17 The writer enjoys the thought that nothing in his victims experience could have prepared them for the brutality of this initiation: they relearned is an ironic reference to the reeducational goal of the camps (terrorization) and, less consciously perhaps, to the fact that the prisoners had to find out that their world was now governed by a new set of rules, where the traditional expectations regarding the rights of the prisoners did not apply. 18 The reference to accepting the prisoners points to the beatings as initiation rites; the dedication of the perpetrators is a reference to the sadistic zeal that has suddenly received official support. One of the striking psychological phenomena at work in such processes is a luxurious surge of a vicious or sordid personal affect when it is found to resonate with official policy.
Intraoffice GPU-NKVD reports, not meant for external consumption, could likewise be surprisingly truthful while likewise couched in a language that calls for interpretation. Thus, in the files of the Lubyanka archive to which he gained access in the early nineties, the Gulag survivor Lev Razgon finds a February 1941 report of a commission that had investigated the reasons for the low productivity at the construction of the Djartass dam. The report contains the following dry data on the conditions of convict labor:

In all the barracks, dug-outs, there are low temperatures, insufficiency of air and light; there have been cases of total absence of firewood for two or three days; people never undress; they sleep on boards [ ] without bedclothes and without absence of [ sic ]regular access to bath [ ], which has led to lice infestation. . . . The drying facility in the camp is poorly equipped, badly heated. The clothes placed there do not dry overnight. In the barracks it is impossible to dry clothes because of the low temperature. In other camps, there are no drying facilities at all.
Prisoners employed on containing the snow return to the barracks in totally damp clothing, and in the morning go out to work the same way. (Razgon 1994, 23, quoting an official document)

As an eyewitness of such situations, Razgon translates this passage for us in the following way: In winter, a person who has had to wade in the snow returns from work absolutely wet. He has only one way to get his clothes drier: to sleep in them, pressing himself to his neighbor on the boards, and dry them with the small residue of the warmth of his own body. And to go out to work in wet clothes is guaranteed death: frost, accompanied with wind, locks a person into an armor of ice, and nothing can impede the cold that penetrates the whole body (23-24).
Lack of drying facilities (partly redressed in veteran camps at later stages) is a consequence of the policy of minimizing the expenditure on the labor camps while attempting to maximize their output, a policy that transformed the fear of scarcity into mass murder by omission. The effects of the camps inadequate infrastructure might well be inferred from the report, yet one s imagination usually balks at such a task. 19 Despite our best intentions, on reading official documents without the aid of survivor memoirs, we are likely to take the position of imaginative neglect similar to that of the officials for whose inattentive eyes these documents were meant. Indeed, in the culture of upward responsibility, the main task of the recipients of the reports would be, along with filing them, to generate a balanced response that would tread the line between negligence and overzealousness. For reasons of their own, the officials would be unwilling to visualize what the absence of drying facilities might mean. Survivor narratives protect collective memory from similar blind spots.
In the Soviet Union of the early 1930s, letters of complaint against infractions in the camps often resorted to the language of the regime and took care to show that their targets were specific abuses rather than the system itself. An anonymous 1929 letter sent to Kalinin, the official president of the USSR, pays mandatory lip service to socialist legality 20 but hints that, unless stopped, abuses become part of the system. However, the main theme of the letter is neglect rather than cruelty. The writer points to the fact that of the four thousand prisoners in the Arkhangelsk branch of OGPU camps

almost half are naked and unshod, and they are sent to work in this state notwithstanding the early frost [ ] and very cold weather. For work they rise at 3 o clock at night, get a 1.25 pound of bread and breakfast-soup or porridge-and work up to 8 or 9 o clock in the evening without any lunch or rest, not even for a meal. But there are worse things; the aforementioned only affects the productivity, and every day hundreds of workers lose their strength and so fall out of the ranks, since even steel will start bending if it is worked the whole month without a single day off. The main thing that I want to report to you are the brutal infractions of revolutionary legality. The beating of prisoners has entered the system; there have even been cases of beating to death. When an exhausted convict worker stops for a little rest, he is immediately undressed down to underwear; an exposed place is chosen; and he is made to stand there for 3 to 4 hours; and when, frozen stiff, he falls down, he gets a beating; there have been cases when such prisoners were taken to the barrack on a stretcher, half dead. All these prisoners arrived from Houses of Correction two months ago and have still never been in the bathhouse, which has led to the spread of dysentery, and not a day passes without the death of two or three people in a thousand. Medical assistance is organized very badly [ ]. Though this is the criminal world, such an attitude of the administration is a brutal infraction of legality, and a bad service to the Soviet power [ ], especially when alongside convict workers there are also free workers, as well as seasonal workers from all parts of the Soviet Union. In addition, the Archangelsk branch is full of foreigners, since here timber is loaded onto foreign ships. And so all this nightmare takes place under the eyes of these foreigners; there were even cases when foreigners were beaten up. (Afanasiev et al. 2004, 2: 70)

Apparently, the letter was passed on to the GPU deputy director Yagoda, who dispatched V. D. Feldman to investigate the situation. In contrast to the self-satisfied report of an SS officer quoted earlier, Feldman s report is markedly uneasy. It repeatedly refers to the absence of concrete facts (where, when, etc.) in the anonymous letter-the absence of public verification landmarks serves to evade the need to indict separate individuals, but, on the other hand, it justifies the need to investigate the condition of the prisoners (examination of their routines, questioning, and so on) (Afanasiev et al. 2004, 2: 71). The report is a mixture of the truth, half-truths, and etiquette. Feldman claims to focus not on a showcase but on the worst camp; he describes its inmates condition with notes that at times betray some sympathy for them. This type of hermeneutics of the soul (Halfin 2003, 7) might well have sufficed for getting him marked (Feldman was shot in 1937-but probably for other reasons):

There are barges on the river (damp, cold, etc.) and in the barges above and below there are people on boards in two rows, flung densely against each other [ , ], in dirt, pressed together like cattle. Half dressed, with yellow faces, exhausted [ ]; there are many sick and invalids. Dysentery is rampant. . . . The death toll from dysentery is close to maximal (22 percent is considered the maximum-here it is 16 percent). At present the epidemic has stabilized but is not receding. There are complaints of brutal handling and sometimes beatings by orderlies, foremen, and junior guards. No complaints against the administration.
Furthermore: not enough food, bread; orderlies distribute unfairly; the work is beyond one s strength, etc. (71-72)

Feldman clearly does not wish to find fault with the camp administration. His report reflects two conflicting tendencies in Soviet society. On the one hand, there is nothing more dangerous for rulers than allowing the population to lose all hope of protection or support from the government (Kozlov 2000, 135). On the other hand, the servants of the regime often enter a circle of collective accountability ( krugovaia poruka ) (139), enhanced by Gogolian flattery and convivial camaraderie during inspector visits. Feldman walks the tightrope. His report goes on to detail the would-be objective difficulties of the camp administration: the simultaneous construction of several camps rather than their gradual spreading from one veteran center and the vandalism of the prisoners themselves (most likely members of the criminal underworld, but in the spirit of the period s political correctness, Feldman does not specify). He recommends that the prisoners routine should not be determined by purely economic considerations but that a clear regimen should be established in order to avoid arbitrary rule ( )-this point might also have sufficed to earn him his execution in 1937. But 1937 was in the invisible future; in 1930 one could still hope to get away with one s controlled wish to improve the lot of the prisoners. To protect himself, the writer takes recourse to four devices:

(1) political correctness-the first conclusion of his report, I believe that there is no malicious system of brutal handling and beating of prisoners (75), follows a somewhat downplayed attempt to exonerate the camp-complex commander of beating prisoners;
(2) denial of factual confirmation of separate excesses mentioned in the anonymous letter (a denial facilitated by the lack of verification coordinates- when, where, etc. -in the letter);
(3) dutiful mentioning of the local officials dismissal of the facts that the report presents (the local OGPU chief is in possession of the same general information, or rather rumors, as in the letter [71]); and
(4) strategic positioning (at the beginning of the letter) of a reference to the local party secretary s statement that he too has had information about brutalities and disorder in the camps but regards them as insignificant and uncharacteristic of camp life (71).

After detailing the situation in what he sees as the worst camp and making it possible for his readers to waive it as uncharacteristic, the report moves on to camps where the conditions are better. 21
Whereas the SA officer s self-congratulatory reports use transparent ironical euphemisms, in the OGPU envoy s report realities are represented in a more coded manner. Some of his examples subvert his interpretive conclusion about the absence of the malicious system of mistreatment. Feldman notes that in Solovki and Vishera the majority of guards and overseers had been convicted Cheka operatives, familiar with our discipline and, anyway, more trustworthy people, but in the Archangelsk region all the junior administration consists almost totally of convicts (72). These were the days of the so-called perekovka : the camps were supposed to become a smithy where criminals and counterrevolutionaries were to be reforged through productive labor into worthy members of society. 22 One of the ways of reforging criminal convicts was to endow them with responsibility by employing them as junior administration -guards and overseers, foremen and orderlies. Among the thieves there were numerous sadists. Additionally, there were criminalized minor offenders with a bellyful of anger against the intellectuals whom they blamed for their troubles-a ressentiment not unsimilar to that of the storm troopers in charge of the Nazi camps. Political prisoners (a term that the report takes care to avoid) were often at the mercy of malicious thugs.
In Feldman s report, as almost throughout official Soviet discourse, the truth is identified with the typical , the characteristic , whereas individual extraordinary cases are waived as insignificant . This tendency is to be distinguished from the Victorian principle that if the abuses reach a certain pitch, they must be remedied -a principle that, despite its callous attitude to the suffering of individuals, linked the priorities of legislative or administrative intervention with the collection and scientific processing of data. In Stalinist texts, statements about the typical or untypical character of phenomena were based not on statistics but, as in socialist realism in literature, on the ideologically honed positing of what was to be considered the right trend.
Such decorous visions of the path to a communist future and critique of particulars that deviate from its rectitude are one of the forms of the higher political consciousness that helped Soviet citizens to surmount the cognitive dissonance between the goal of the bright future and the questionable practices of the present, soaring above logical gaps in theory, inconsistencies in party-line practice, and conflicts between the subjective goodness of individuals and their objective class noxiousness. 23 Consciousness of scarcity was part of the cognitive dissonance, but it often became a factor in fueling Soviet-style social mobility, which could then be mistranslated into a sign of the general rise of well-being. During the Great Terror the considerably higher proportion of arrests among the country s administrative elite in comparison with the general population (see, for instance, Fitzpatrick 1993) must have been associated not only with the visibility of such potential enemies but also with the redistribution of the material and social resources in such a way as to enhance the sense of increasing prosperity among the faithful. The purged would bear the brunt of scarcity. As the sense of the ramshackle temporariness around the camps started to fade and as the conditions in veteran camps became better than in newer outposts, it was expected that with the further growth of the economy, the prisoners conditions in the camps would also improve. History proved otherwise.
The residual idealism of reeducating prisoners through productive labor was one of the casualties of the camps. It was modified almost beyond recognition as a consequence of perekovka : those who could claim a high production output were likely to be considered reforged, unless they died first. 24 Reeducation became an ideological cover-up for slavery. It now meant that in order to stay alive, one had to work extremely hard, usually expending more calories than were needed to sustain life in the longer run, even with premium rations.
As in postrevolutionary Russia, so it was in Nazi Germany. The earliest camps (1933) were characterized by improvisation and administrative chaos (Goeschel and Wachsmann 2012, 4), but their operation congealed into more rigid patterns more quickly (in a matter of a year or two, with regulations issued by Eicke on April 1, 1935) than in Soviet Russia. In the memoirs of the journalist Bertrand de Jouvenel (230-31) we read that on a visit to Moscow in 1935, in the hotel National, he encountered one of the young Hitler supporters whom he had met in Germany the previous year. 25 Asked what he was doing in the Soviet Union, the man replied that he had come to study the Soviet camps. 26 Jouvenel says that he was not shocked since camps were in his mind still associated with Roosevelt s Civilian Conservation Camps, which housed the unemployed conscripted for public works-the sound of the word camps was still free from odium for the broad Western public. The collective memory of Cuban and South African concentration camps had, apparently, been short. The meaning of the term camp was also partly defused by public awareness of the Voluntary Labor Service camps for the unemployed in the Weimar Republic, which were supposed to reeducate and train their inmates. 27
Visitors to the Soviet Union would also be taken to the model colony for underage offenders in Bolshevo. With some perceptiveness, the Nazi emissaries could learn not only the organizing principles of such institutions but also the ways in which abuses were white-washed. They already had their own amateur Potemkin surfaces, such as the 1933-34 guided tours of the KZ. (The inmates were terrorized to preempt their telling the truth to the visitors; see Goeschell and Wachsmann 2012, 29.) Later, they established the model ghetto in Theresienstadt. 28 When a further need to mask the final solution arose, the Nazis would set up an additional Potemkin village-the short-lived family camp in Auschwitz. 29
Up to the mid-1930s, the Gulag was still in its trial-and-error period, with a variety of practices, loopholes, and excesses. The stabilization of the camps regularities can be dated to approximately 1934. It was after this that Nazi officials would have the chance to visit on study tours. By the mid-1930s, barbed wire, humiliating rites of passage, the daily torment of roll calls, the placing of common criminals in positions of prominence, and the use of hunger as an instrument of control no longer had to be invented from scratch. What the Nazis could not see during the study tours they could read about in the memoirs of fugitives. 30
Learning from what has been done elsewhere and implementing the experience is one form of entanglement. Another (hypothetical) form is that of action and reaction. During the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for example, Ernst Nolte claimed that the Nazi genocide was a reaction to the earlier class genocide of the Bolsheviks. The claim was refuted by J rgen Habermas, along with a number of German historians (see Markovits and Noveck 1996, 435-37), as well as by Anglo-American historians such as Kershaw and Lewin (1997, 7). 31 Yet one of the most empirically obvious forms of historical entanglement is also one that is most difficult to demonstrate without memoirs and oral history. It is the cocreation of a moral climate under which taboos are broken, the unthinkable becomes not only thinkable but an option for acting, and individual vicious dreams turn into a collective reality.
Within a year of the episode reported by de Jouvenel, the SS went over from the use of available facilities to planning and constructing brand new camps, with barracks, roll-call squares, watchtowers, and other paraphernalia. This development, however, was more likely a matter of the inner dynamics of the history of the camps than that of learning from the Soviet model of the institution.
The short- and long-term economic benefits of prison labor are still an open question. Whereas Solzhenitsyn insists that the long-term benefits were small, the pragmatically minded part of recent Russian historiography leans to the opposite view, often sliding into a valorization of the achievements of the Gulag in developing the industry and economy and even the culture of Siberia and the European Russian North, at the expense of the memory of the lives torturously wasted on the way to such progress. The fear of scarcity that hid behind the practice of hunger as incentive in the camps seems to be raising its head in this kind of revisionism. By contrast, the Gulag historian Oleg Khlevnyuk emphazises not only the enormous economic loss rooted in the waste of talents and human potential (a constantly recurrent theme of Gulag literature, especially the stories of Georgy Demidov) but also the fact that the easy availability of slave labor allowed hasty decisions in economy, reducing the motivation for more careful and circumspect planning (Khlevnyuk 2003, 64). In the history of the Nazi camps, the drive toward extermination of the Jews trumped the economic benefit derivable from their slave labor, even though economic consideration intermittently impeded the massacres. 32 This drive was part of an entanglement: it made thinkable and realizable the uprooting and forced resettlement of whole nationalities in the Soviet Union under Stalin (see, for example, Conquest 1970).
In their relatively stabilized default-like state, the red and the brown camps lend themselves to comparisons rather than to the study of entanglement, even though the episode told by Butskovsky is so strongly reminiscent of Babi Yar or of the Bagerovo ditch in Crimea that some knowledge of such events on the part of the camp authorities can well be imagined. 33
The comparison of the relatively stable order in the two camp systems encounters features that defy commensurability. Accounts of KZ experience are haunted by the sense of the diabolical: unrestrained beatings and gleeful humiliations, public executions, 34 unbridled sadism often associated with sexual perversion, medical experiments, slaughter of babies and young children, gas chambers, and the smell of crematoria smoke. The evil in Russian camps is more matter-of-fact and more clearly associated with the extreme form or callous extension of ordinary human vices-a view that is also seeping into the normalizing treatments of the Holocaust. 35 Narratives of KZ survivors are often the subject of trauma studies. By contrast, Gulag narratives are dominated by ethical issues and usually call for ethical, behavioristic, and sociological analysis. These narratives are largely unreceptive to psychological approaches-whether because of the troubled history of psychological sciences in the Soviet Union or because of the features of the material itself. The average annual mortality rate of Gulag prisoners (not counting precamp executions) was 14 percent; the mortality rate in Nazi camps (not counting the death factories) was 40 percent (Overy [2004] 2005, 614).
As Timothy Snyder has observed, we can choose to compare the Nazi and Soviet systems, or not. The hundreds of millions of Europeans who were touched by both regimes did not have this luxury (2010, 390). Individuals had to decide on a course of action:

German workers in early 1933 . . . had to decide whether they would vote for social democrats, communists, or Nazis. . . . European politicians of the second half of the 1930s . . . had to decide whether or not to enter Stalin s Popular Front. . . . When both the Germans and the Soviets invaded Poland in 1939, Polish officers had to decide to whom they would surrender, and Polish Jews (and other Polish citizens besides) whether to flee to the other occupation zone. Belarusian youths had to decide whether to join the Soviet partisans or the German police-before they were pressed into one or the other. Jews in Minsk in 1942 [or in Vilnius and Kaunas - L. T.] had to choose between remaining in the ghetto or fleeing to the forest to seek Soviet partisans. (391-92)

On the eve of transports from the camps, inmates had to decide whether to try to remain or try to leave or whether to leave the matter to fate. Such dilemmas are represented firsthand in, for instance, the early chapters of Gustav Herling s A World Apart and of Margolin s Journey into the Country of the Ze-ka , throughout Alexander Donat s The Holocaust Kingdom , and at the end of Primo Levi s and Elie Wiesel s Auschwitz narratives. They are surveyed in Shimon Redlich s account of his native Brzezany before and after the war and transpire through Hirsh Smoliar s 1947 Mstiteli geto (The ghetto avengers), one of the few accounts of the Holocaust and Jewish resistance published in the USSR in Stalin s lifetime. In retrospective narratives of mid-twentieth-century European cataclysms, notably those involving the Spanish Civil War and imprisonment on each side of the front (such as the memoirs of El Campesino, Orwell s Homage to Catalonia , or Arthur Koestler s The Spanish Testament ), the path chosen by the authorial persona often seems inevitable. If being able to compare is a luxury, not being able to act on the semblance of choice is entrapment. Eugenia (Evgeniya) Ginzburg mentions a colleague who, being, like herself, threatened with arrest, chooses to turn his back on his life in Kazan and escape to the southeast of the country, where he can submerge. As a mother, however, Ginzburg cannot take this option of her own volition.
If, indulging in the luxury of comparison, one performs the thought experiment of dissociating the logistics of the camps from the drive toward extermination, one may note a number of structural parallels between the Gulag and the KZ. In both systems, the small number of staff and guards relative to the number of prisoners led to terror methods of discipline; prisoners were at times shot under fake pretexts of escape attempts; during the war, commanders invented stratagems, at the expense of the prisoners, to prove their importance and avoid being sent to the front lines; corruption was rampant, the food of the prisoners stolen, and the policy of placing criminals in charge difficult to circumvent. In both systems random captives were sometimes hunted down to replace prisoners missing at roll calls (see Kogon 1949, 265; Shalamov s Berdy Onzhe [2004b, 1: 632-36]). Nor are stories of rape, female and male prostitution, and child abuse a monopoly of any one of the systems, though they took different shapes. There are also similarities in the prisoners survival techniques: bribing the personnel, pursuit of lighter work, volunteering for professional jobs even if not qualified for them, inconspicuousness, and submergence when personally threatened (see, for instance, Kogon 1949, 253; Frankl 1962, 50; and the ending of Shalamov s Typhoid Quarantine [1998, 164-80]). The dialectics of power relationships in the world of concentration camps emerges as behavioristically predictable. Except for the gas chambers and crematoria, almost any phenomenon of the Nazi camps could find its paler counterpart under some constellation in the Gulag. Nevertheless, the differences in the intensity of the phenomena overshadow the analogies. Margarete Buber-Neumann, author of Under Two Dictators , who was incarcerated in Kazakhstan camps and then nearly lost her life in Ravensbr ck, consistently shows that the main causes of the prisoners suffering in her Soviet camps were hunger, callous neglect, shortages, corruption, dirt, disorder, and arbitrary rulings. In Ravensbr ck, however, the suffering was inflicted deliberately, by acts of commission rather than omission. By the end of the war it was further exacerbated by the Gulag-like dirt and chaos.
One of the main points of difference was the institutionalized flogging of prisoners in the Nazi camps, legalized by Eicke as a disciplinary measure. This murderous torture combined with atavistic humiliation reinforced the treatment of the victims as subhuman, further unleashing the sadism of the perpetrators. 36 In Russia, the practice of whipping prisoners was a matter of the discredited tsarist past (see part 2, chaps. 3 and 8 in Dostoevsky s The House of the Dead ). Even at third-degree interrogations, the methods of torture tended to be closer to those of street fighting. The answer to infractions of discipline in the Gulag was punishment cells. Whereas in the literature of Nazi camps humiliating slaps on the face are a recurrent motif (e.g., in Buber-Neumann s [1950] chapters on Ravensbr ck), a parallel recurrent motif in the literature of the Gulag is pugilistic punches. Though the victim did not have the right to trade blows with the guard or boss, and though the physical trauma was harsher, this kind of abuse was less stigmatizing. 37
Few memoirs of Nazi camps elide scenes of public executions of prisoners, hangings that other prisoners are made to watch. In the Gulag, the executions following in-camp death sentences were usually performed away from the eyes and ears of the remaining prisoners.
Yet anything that one writes about such issues is a euphemism. In the Gulag of the late 1940s, the use of the collaborating part of the criminal convicts as the arm of the authorities against purge victims reached new levels. A hint from the authorities would lead to horrible beatings of prisoners by their criminal neighbors, who were again often entrusted with prominent jobs in the camps (Ivanova [1997] 2000, 58-62). Both the Gulag and the Nazi camps saw a power struggle between political prisoners and criminals. Yet in the Gulag the different factions of the criminal underground were much more closely knit than in the Nazi camps, whereas in Buchenwald the resistance of the political prisoners took more organized forms-as it did in the mid-1950s in the Kazakhstan camps (Solzhenitsyn s Kengir and Ekibastuz), where the rebellions were brutally suppressed, or in the Vorkuta camps, where the resistance was partly successful.
In contrast to Nazi camps, which ranged from holding and forced-labor facilities to extermination factories, all with speedy turnover, the Gulag created periods long enough for the formation of regularities amenable to realistic literary representation. Such regular practices emerge in Solzhenitsyn s One Day of Ivan Denisovich and The First Circle , in Shalamov s stories and his play Anna Ivanovna , and in the more recently published stories of Demidov. The non-Jewish experience of the Nazi Lagers came closer to that of the Gulag in lasting long enough for a paradigmatic deployment of regularities, as in Jorge Sempr n s What a Beautiful Sunday! or in David Rousset s L Univers concentrationnaire and Les Jours de notre mort . By contrast, one of the achievements in Ka-Tzetnik s Salamandra is its showing how all emergent regularities of ghetto and camp existence are canceled by new regulations, deportations, and murders almost as soon as some illusion of stability takes shape. This sense of shortness of the stable spans in camp life is also powerfully rendered in the memoirs of Rudolf Vrba, one of the very few heroic fugitives from Auschwitz.
The relatively longer life-span of Gulag prisoners in comparison with those of the Nazi camps and the much longer life-span of the Gulag system itself allowed the development of a more enduring system of relationships, logistics, and values. The heuristic benefit of the comparison lies in that, owing to its longevity, the mature Gulag system may elucidate some of the features of the more fluid realities in the Nazi camps, whereas the naked horror of the KZ may point to the essence of some of the less clearly articulated procedures in the Gulag.
Neglect or Strategy?
One of the ambiguities of the age of extremes concerns the neglect that led to the death toll among the peasants deported in the 1920s, the population of famine-struck regions, the inmates of the camps, the inhabitants of besieged Leningrad, or the victims of wartime and postwar ethnic deportations. Was the neglect premeditated or merely a matter of uncorrected bad organization? It was rumored that when the mass deportation of the Jews from the European part of the Soviet Union to Birobijan and elsewhere in the East was being prepared, the conditions of the transportation were to be such that only half of the passengers would reach their destination alive. 38 The measure would thus partly imitate the conditions of the transportation of the Jews in Nazi freight cars, but the murder weapon would include would-be humanitarian sanitary procedures. According to one of the rumors, the railway cars in which Jews were to be deported to Siberia were to receive an overly intense disinfectant dousing-part of the deportees would not be able to bear the fumes. (One may recollect the allegorical Sanitation Department in Aharon Appelfeld s novel Badenheim 1939 .) The conditions in the overcrowded trains that transported victims to Auschwitz constituted a kind of pre- Selektion ; the weakest would die on the way. Yet, primarily, this was another form of radical deprivation inflicted on the victims. 39
Whatever the differences between the red and the brown camps, prescribed hunger (Levi 1990, 43; la fame regolamentare, Levi 1989, 31) was their common denominator, repeated in later recidives, such as Yugoslavian and Chinese camps. What had started as a by-product of the unusually massive penal operation became a deliberate strategy. In Germany, Darwinist concepts of the struggle for survival converged with memories of austerity (see Weikart 2004) against the background of estimates of land and food resources as insufficient for the mass consumer at a given stage of technological development. Yet causality was involute: agronomy, a peaceful response to the threat of food shortages, was, for Hitler, part of the pernicious Jewish way of demotivating territorial conquest (Snyder 2015, 10).
In the Soviet Union the fear of scarcity converged with Stalin s long-standing and vengeful distrust of the peasant class. The result was denying Ukrainian peasants the grain that they had themselves produced and thus condemning millions to death by starvation in 1932-33. The insufficiency of public outrage against the Holodomor, possibly associated, in its turn, with the unavowed sharing of apprehensions about food shortages, 40 may have provided an object lesson for the Nazis, encouraging Hitler s Hunger Plan-the diversion of food supplies and the resultant (or sought) starvation of a large percentage of the Slavic urban populations as part of the imperial expansion of Germany (see Tooze 2006, 476-85). The idea of the survival of one s collective can yield effective propaganda when it touches the tacit fears that can help in-group loyalties to overrule universal ethical principles. Even so, however, the Hunger Plan had to be kept secret and eventually affected mainly Soviet POWs, Jews in the ghettos, concentration-camp inmates, and blockaded Leningrad, where the starvation of hundreds of thousands of civilians was, for Hitler, an end in itself rather than collateral damage.
The philosopher Arne Johan Vetlesen observes that in order to market genocidal intentions, the perpetrator group does exactly what it castigates the target for having done (in some remote or recent past) or for being now about to do against one s own group 41 ; genocide is thus packaged as retaliation or as preemption, both harking back to the agenda of self-defence (175). The genocidal socio-logic feeds on more or less unconscious feelings, beliefs, and fantasies of concrete individuals but aims to construct, represent, and put into action this individual material as constituting the total perspective on the world . . . shared within a specific group or collective (175). In order to create the magnetic forces for such social extrapolation of the private, the goals and fantasies of the leader have to connect with the subconscious collective affects of his followers. Conversely, according to one interpretation, the reasons for the priority that the Nazis accorded to Judeocide included the traditional Judaic belief in the sanctity of human life, an idea force diametrically opposed to Hitler s racist drive toward mass slaughter (Heinsohn 2000, 424-27; Harrison 2015; see also Snyder 2015, 3-6).
Another widespread affect, inherited from the end of the nineteenth century, was the fear of degeneration, which stoked an interest in eugenics. This fear was likewise linked to post-Malthusian anxieties: there would not be enough for all, especially should the numbers of the unproductive grow. Across the political spectrum, all eugenicists viewed human beings, consciously or unconsciously, as human resources whose numbers could be manipulated for some transindividual purpose (Weiss 2010, 34). The reduction of human individuals from ends in themselves to instruments for the achievement of utopian goals or to obstacles on the path of such achievement was a common denominator of both the Nazi and the Soviet ideologies, but it may also transpire from the broader recurrence, even in the United States, of discourse about useless individuals, who sap the strength of the State (Weiss 2010, 51). This part of the zeitgeist was checked and balanced in some societies better than in others.
Eugenics was a prominent constituent of Nazi racist politics but, in a class-related reinterpretation, it was also present in the collective imagination in the Soviet Union-witness the cult of physically perfect human specimens promoted in Soviet sculptures (such as Vera Mukhina s monumental sculptures of a male worker and a female peasant) and the contrasting portrayals, in literature and film, of the bourgeoisie and its relics as dissolute, decadent, degenerate, and physically rotten ( kvelye , as a peasant characterizes middle-class intellectuals in Andrei Platonov s Chevengur ). Yevgeny Zamiatin s We (1921), the first major dystopian novel of the twentieth century, registers eugenic ideas: one of the main characters, an attractive woman, is not tall enough to be granted the right to have children. 42 After his return from Texas, where he had worked in the geneticist H. J. Muller s laboratory between 1930 and 1932, Solomon Levit, the luminary of Soviet genetics, is believed to have secretly pursued eugenic issues (albeit divorced from the kind of racism and class prejudice that was the hallmark of some practitioners in the United States and Germany) in what came to be known as Maxim Gorky Medical Genetics Institute (Weiss 2010, 57, 293-94). Soviet genetics research was geared up to medical purposes, nevertheless, in 1937 Stalin struck a crushing blow against it. (Levit was arrested on the charge of espionage and executed in 1938.) Communist ideology privileged environment over heredity in the formation of character and political stance; this position was also behind the drive to place children of the enemies of the people in state orphanages. And yet Stalin s deportation of whole nations, under inhuman conditions, to remote harsh regions, with the resulting high mortality toll among the children and the old, pointed to the residue of the opposite view of the relationship between nature and nurture, as well as to an atavistic fear of next-generation vengeance. In the Gulag, scorn of and cruelty to those lacking physical strength were associated with the need for the collective fulfillment of production quotas but also with the scorn and resentment of intellectual creativity-with occasional collective exceptions, such as the cultural activities of the 1920s in Solovki (see Gullotta 2018), in-camp theater performances by convict actors with convict directors, and in-camp research institutes, the so-called sharagi , made famous by Solzhenitsyn s The First Circle . 43 At the end of the purges of the 1930s, the physical landscape remodeled by breakneck industrialization would contrast with the scorched-earth patches in the cultural landscape (Suny 1977, 47-52). Fear of physical scarcity seems to have gone hand in hand with the belief in the inexhaustible renewability of human resources ( there are no irreplaceable people ).
One of the ways in which the history of the Soviet Union and that of Nazi Germany comment on each other is that the prominence of the fear of degeneration in the latter sheds light on the same, though less articulated, tendency in the former, whereas the fear of scarcity, striking in its consequences on the Soviet side, may be better understood as a fuel of Nazi racist policies.
In the twenty-first century, the awareness of the danger of the global food crisis is partly counterbalanced by a justified belief in synergetic creative cooperations that enhance sustainable resources even in the face of climate change, a belief promoted by joint international research projects. No such belief had filtered into the collective consciousness between the two world wars-worse, the idea of synergy, rooted in David Ricardo s valorization of free trade, had gone bankrupt during the economic crises and colonial wars. It was difficult for the popular imagination to credit advances in agronomy with the potential of preempting food shortages. Both the technological and the moral stages of European development were at the time better adapted to the murderous struggle for resources than to developing ways of consistently enhancing resources through creative cooperation and distributive justice.
Competition for natural resources is still rife within and between cultures, but the concern with the possibility of a food crisis has now moved from pseudoscience and mass psychology to bona fide environmental and agricultural sciences, where it properly belongs. The hopes offered by synergetic projects have been further enhanced by a shift in the zeitgeist: the fear of scarcity tends to have been replaced by ecological struggles against warming and waste. Yet social, economic, and ideological processes are always in need of humanitarian input. Any belief in the victory of international social and scientific cooperation is sorely tested by outbreaks of famine in war-torn remote regions, where scarcity is again inflicted on the Other, whether deliberately or by callous neglect.
1 . In his memoir, the camp boss Fyodor Mochulsky prides himself on managing to establish reasonable living conditions for camp inmates in new outposts before getting them to fulfill the work quotas. The human cost of the regime s negligence about the infrastructure of the prisoners habitation nevertheless transpires through this account. Even when the Gulag system had matured, the setting up of new camps recapitulated the callous waste of human life that characterized its early years: We Poles arrived with everything prepared, and people around us congratulated us on your good fortune that you arrived in 1940 and not in 1937 or 1933 (Margolin 2016, 122). On the other hand, in the 1920s, improvisations in the running of camps provided loopholes for prisoners; this is reflected in the memoirs of fugitives, such as Irene Doubassov (1926) and Yury Bezsonov (1928).
2 . In 1961 Khrushchev promised that his contemporary generation would live to see communism; the popular theme song of the 1967 Rolan Bykov movie Aibolit 66 was It is very good that in the meantime it is tough for us ( , ).
3 . See also Friedl nder (2007, xxii-xxiii) for the place of this tendency among the factors for antisemitism.
4 . Pace Socrates s belief was that one would not do evil knowingly; in Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide , Berel Lang (1990) makes a strong argument that the Nazis wished to do evil not only knowingly but because they knew it was evil. Arguing against the juridical insistence on malice and intention to determine guilt, Susan Neiman notes that the belief that evil actions require evil intentions allowed totalitarian regimes to convince people to override moral objections that might otherwise have functioned (275).
5 . Snyder (2015, 322) goes on to note that in 1989 food prices were about half of what they had been in 1939 despite the increase in population. These days the hopes promoted by the green revolution are threatened by climate change.
6 . The English version (trans. Kathryn Hellerstein and Lisa Katz), published in Szeintuch 2005, also contains a photograph of the original Yiddish manuscript.
7 . The historian Michael Jakobson, once a Gulag prisoner, also published a semiotically rich novella entitled Karzubyi , set in post-Stalin camps.
8 . In 1930, the recently appointed premier Viacheslav Molotov proclaimed that the goods of Soviet exports did not originate from forced labor; this statement was an attempt to prevent embargoes and boycotts of Soviet exports in the West under the influence of public opinion. This period indeed witnessed a mass transfer of slave laborers from lumber production to infrastructure projects (see Dallin and Nikolaevsky 1947, 217-30; Jakobson 1993, 126-27).
9 . On the ideological contexts of mass slaughter in the German colonial responses to the Herero revolt, see Weikart (2004, 184, 205-6). The Herero genocide is the event that haunts Thomas Pynchon s novel V ., which may seem, wrongly, to be too surrealistically horrifying to refer to actual facts.
10 . Solzhenitsyn and some of his sources believe that it was prisoner-turned-commander Naftaly Frenkel who invented the pragmatic logistics of forced labor in the camps; this man s meteoric rise in the camp hierarchy may be accounted for by his suggestions about the rational use of camp labor. However, during the country s drive for breakneck industrialization, Frenkel s inventions would have been made anyway; he may have been appreciated as a congenial idea force.
11 . See Ivanova (1997) 2000, 144: The Soviet repressive system existed and developed according to its own canons. Following the dialectical law of the double negative ( otritsanie otritsaniia ), it destroyed its own cadres, in spite of their enthusiasm and devotion to their work. A concrete case of this process is depicted in the memoir of Mikhail Shreider (1995).
12 . This is an issue explored in Sergei Dovlatov s novel Zona , in which the autobiographically based protagonist is a conscript guard in a post-Stalinist camp.
13 . The victims shouts about the Red Army s revenge, a recurrent feature of the representation of the Holocaust in Soviet literature, might be read in this context, as well as in that of the unavailability of religious responses.
14 . No generalization about the Gulag is immune to exceptions. In this case, one of the striking exceptions is the sadistic inventiveness of punishments in the early years of the Solovki camp, before the potential of prisoners as slave labor was fully recognized (see Gullotta 2018).
15 . The Stalinist regime s hostility to domestic celebrities is satirically captured as the philosophy of Ekwilism in Nabokov s dystopian Bend Sinister : so that world consciousness should be distributed equally, the larger vessels should be eliminated. Elitocide sets the creative intellectual evolution of a community back in incalculable ways, prolonging the tyrannical regime s life-span but ultimately leading to its exhaustion.
16 . See Gitta Sereny s account of the explanation given by Franz Strangl, the commander of Treblinka, that sadistic violence to the people on the way to slaughter (rather than being entirely useless ) functioned as a means of conditioning the perpetrators ([1974] 1983, 101; see also comments in Lang 1990, 21-22).
17 . Bettelheim (1960, 122-23) notes that for political prisoners, in contrast to nonpolitical middle-class citizens (probably Jews, though Bettelheim does not specify), these rites of passage were less of a shock because they had expected Nazi persecution; admirable steadfastness was also shown by Jehovah s Witnesses. Bredel s novel Die Pr fung represents the situation described in the report from the perspective of the communist victims.
18 . New arrivals in Solovetsky camps were greeted with the punning declaration that the place was ruled not by Soviet power but by Solovetsky power ( , ).
19 . Ways to interpret official documentation, to infer the actual state of affairs from both discourse conventions and their occasional slippage, are also repeatedly exemplified in Solzhenitsyn s The Gulag Archipelago .
20 . See Kozlov on the rhetoric of denunciations: In almost any denunciation one can find a kind of compulsory minimum of ideological beliefs and moral judgments. The widespread logic was: Soviet power is the best and most just in the world, so how can it bear the illegal and amoral actions of its bureaucrats? (2000, 130). Denunciation can be regarded as a new Soviet speech genre, along with the genre of anonymous complaints, inspector reports, and reports on secret informers.
21 . For a discussion of these two documents in relation to the theme of the falsification of accounts as treated in Gulag literature, see Toker (2009-10). But falsification was not only a matter of accounting; as Golfo Alexopoulos has demonstrated, the depleted and very ill were often released to die outside the camps, in order to reduce the Gulag mortality-rate statistics (2016, 59-63; see also chap. 6 in her 2017 book).
22 . On the history of the perekovka , see Hartmann (2017a). In Dostoevsky s The House of the Dead this word is used in the meaning of reforging the manacles that the prisoners wear into those more suitable for hard-labor prisons.
23 . The workings of the latter distinction and other facets of and remedies for cognitive dissonance are brilliantly evoked in Lev Kopelev s To Be Preserved Forever , especially chaps. 3 and 7.
24 . See Barnes (2011) on the relationship between the punitive function of the Gulag and the expectation that some of its inmates will be redeemed.
25 . I first learned about this episode from a reference in Jacques Rossi s The Gulag Handbook , an invaluable aid to research. Rossi s later work Qu elle tait belle cette utopie! compares in power and penetration to Danilo Ki s A Tomb for Boris Davidovich , but unlike Ki s book (see the discussion in Lachmann 2006 and 2016), it is based on the author s firsthand experience.
26 . See N. Ioffe 1995, 96: I have met people who have gone through both Hitler s interrogations and ours. They stated that there must have been an exchange of experience, for the methods were very similar.
27 . See Patel s (2005) comparative study of the Civil Conservation Camps of the Great Depression and the Labor Service in Nazi Germany. The Labor Service was a state financed institution that collaborat[ed] to some extent with private agencies and institutions and sent young adults into camps for limited periods of time to work on economically unprofitable public works projects (2).
28 . Though the Theresienstadt ghetto was initially represented as motivated by the intention of a more humane treatment of German Jews in comparison with Jews of other countries (see, for instance, Arendt 1964, 80-81), it stands to reason that propaganda purposes had been conceived from the start.
29 . Inspection of that camp by the Red Cross had been planned, but the delegation of the Red Cross that visited Theresienstadt in the summer of 1944 perceived the order in that ghetto with unqualified satisfaction (Kulka 2013, 115), which apparently made the visit to the family camp in Auschwitz Birkenau unnecessary ; three weeks later the inmates of the family camp were sent to the gas chamber. (Otto Dov Kulka survived because of the diphtheria that kept him in the hospital block at the time.)
30 . In his comments on various British camps as evolving institutions, Aidan Forth concedes that the health and welfare (if not overall happiness) of inmates improved over time, which disciplinary and administrative procedures responded to dissent and dissatisfaction. Controversy and resulting reforms were therefore central to the history of the British camps (2017, 12). The history of the Gulag, by contrast, is that of progressive tightening of the regime, with the condition of the prisoners reaching its nadir in 1937 and then again in early wartime years and, after some improvement, deteriorating again in 1948-49, in disconnect from what was known about the camps outside them. The improvement in the prisoners condition in the mid-1950s was likewise a product of inner dynamics and power struggle in the top echelons rather than of public opinion.
31 . The antisemitism of the population in the territories occupied by the Red Army after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was enhanced by the triumphant welcome extended to the Soviet invasion by Jewish communists (Friedl nder 2007, 43-48). It is less well known that such activists represented only a minuscule part of the Jewish population (Gitelman 2013, 222). One way or another, reactions to the prominence of the Jewish communists before the German invasion facilitated rather than caused the slaughter of the Jews on Nazi orders. See Shimon Redlich s (2002) synecdochal tracing of this process in the history of the Galician town Brzezany.
32 . For a detailed study of the clash between the final solution and the German war effort, see Pasher (2014).
33 . Babi Yar was preceded by the Katyn massacres: the NKVD did not have to learn mass murder from the SS. Yet the logistics with which the Katyn killings were performed was different from that of Babi Yar; the countermanded slaughter of Nevelskoy prisoners in a ravine would have been more similar to the latter.
34 . Dietrich Beyrau mentions beatings as a reintroduced barracks tradition of the eighteenth-century Prussian military, canceled by Napoleonic reforms. He adds that the public hangings and punishments in the KZ were also newly enacted long-forgotten German traditions (2016, 236).
35 . For a systematic discussion of analogies and differences between the stabilized order in the Gulag and in the Nazi camps, see Overy ([2004] 2005, 615-34).
36 . Experience . . . has shown that those persons who are instructed to execute whipping, after a short period lose the sense of the purpose and meaning of their actions and let themselves be guided by personal feelings of revenge or by sadistic inclinations, wrote Minister of Justice Franz G rtner, complaining to the minister of the interior in May 1935 (Goeschell and Wachsmann 2012, 116). On Eicke, see Goeschell and Wachsmann (2012, 146-51).

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