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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ As in all gulags, the prisoners have no voice.
▪ Finally, you arrive in the paint scraper aisle, a dimly lit gulag in the rear of the store.
▪ If you have assembled a no-name dinner, you are immediately consigned to the gastronomic gulag.
▪ It is all a bit unnerving, and feels like some secret gulag.
▪ Meaning they either threw you in the gulag for 20 years or condemned you to a lifetime of borscht.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

system of prisons and labor camps, especially for political detainees, in the former Soviet Union; rough acronym from Russian Glavnoe upravlenie ispravitel'no-trudovykh lagerei "Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps," set up in 1931.


n. 1 A prison camp. 2 A generic name for the system of all Soviet prison and/or labor camps in use during the Stalinist period.


n. a Russian prison camp for political prisoners


The Gulag (; acronym of Russian Главное управление лагерей "main administration of the camps", usually translated "Chief Directorate of Camps") was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labour camp systems during the Stalin era, from the 1930s until the 1950s.

The first such camps were created in 1918 and the term is widely used to describe any forced labor camp in the USSR. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of extrajudicial punishment (the NKVD was the Soviet secret police). The Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union, based on Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code). The term is also sometimes used to describe the camps themselves, particularly in the West.

"GULAG" was the acronym for (Glavnoye upravleniye lagerey), the "Main Camp Administration". It was the short form of the official name Гла́вное управле́ние исправи́тельно-трудовы́х лагере́й и коло́ний (Glavnoye upravleniye ispravityelno-trudovykh lagerey i koloniy), the "Main Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Labor Settlements". It was administered first by the GPU, later by the NKVD and in the final years by the MVD, the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The first corrective labour camps after the revolution were established in 1918 ( Solovki) and legalized by a decree "On creation of the forced-labor camps" on April 15, 1919. The internment system grew rapidly, reaching population of 100,000 in the 1920s and from the very beginning it had a very high mortality rate.

Forced labor camps continued to function outside of the agency until late 80s ( Perm-36 closed in 1987). A number of Soviet dissidents described the continuation of the Gulag after it was officially closed: Anatoli Marchenko (who actually died in a camp in 1986), Vladimir Bukovsky, Yuri Orlov, Nathan Shcharansky, all of them released from the Gulag and given permission to emigrate to the West, after years of international pressure on Soviet authorities.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature, who spent eight years of Gulag incarceration, gave the term its international repute with the publication of The Gulag Archipelago in 1973. The author likened the scattered camps to "a chain of islands" and as an eyewitness described the Gulag as a system where people were worked to death. Some scholars support this view, though it is controversial, considering that with the obvious exception of the war years, a very large majority of people who entered the Gulag left alive. In March 1940, there were 53 Gulag camp directorates (colloquially referred to as simply "camps") and 423 labor colonies in the USSR. Today's major industrial cities of the Russian Arctic, such as Norilsk, Vorkuta, and Magadan, were originally camps built by prisoners and run by ex-prisoners.

Gulag (film)

Gulag is a 1985 drama film by Roger Young, aired originally on HBO and later released to home video. It was reviewed by the New York Times.

Gulag (disambiguation)

The Gulag was the government agency that administered the penal labor camps of the Soviet Union.

  • List of Gulag camps

Gulag may also refer to:

Usage examples of "gulag".

While tens of millions were being executed, torn from their families, subjected to forced starvations as a matter of government policy, packed on trains, and sent to Siberian gulags in the glorious USSR, about two hundred people in America were blacklisted from a single frivolous industry.

They were mere instruments, following the protocol of the Gulag, where the thieves and murderers held sway with the cooperation of the guards with whom they did business.

When Jeff discovers that the feds are using his handiwork to round up Baptists and ship them by the trainload to dismal gulags in Arizona, he drops out of the system, goes deep underground, and joins the Christian revolutionary right.

Now, at last, we would hear the other side in the battle of relatively equal evil forces: Soviet gulags and fascistic oppression by HUAC.

Using the standard liberal talking point about Soviet slave-labor camps, Lattimore described the gulags as "a combination Hudson's Bay Company and TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority].

Aren't dreams of murderous dictators, gulags, and death camps at least comparable in evil to segregated lunch counters?

There were too many unanswered questions now, thanks to reading RMCQ reports on the Soviets, the KGB, the gulags, too many friends, Canadian and Nationalist, now.

Before we knew the truth about Stalin, about gulags and KGB and police state and mass murders and mass conquests and never freedom.

Sometimes it came all the way back from those who had been dispatched to the gulags, the labor camps in Siberia.

These were the late sixties, and the brief renaissance of Ukrainian literature and poetry back in the Ukraine had come and gone, its leading lights mostly by then doing slave labor in the camps of Gulag.

The world's full of people who want to tell you how to live your life, how to make heaven right here on earth, but when their ideas turn out half-baked, when it ends in Dachau or the Gulag or the mass murders that followed our departure from Southeast Asia, they turn their heads, avert their eyes, and pretend they had no responsibility for the slaughter.

Otherwise, this Group 1917 would have disappeared from sight long ago, into Gulag or the ground or the mental home, Khamovkhin doesn't know who they are, dammit!

The Hitler-Stalin Pact, Hiss's prothonotary warbler, Stalin's show trials, and Aleksandr Solzhe-nitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago - all these had their effect.

It did not do to come up with stuff if there was a witness present because you could make yourself seem cleverer than Stalin, which was a subway token to the Gulag, but on the other hand if there was no one else around then it was essential to come up with things, because then he could later claim these thoughts as his own.