When the Stalin was taken out of Stalinism, the mold of the Soviet Union began to disintegrate. This disintegration meant that many elements of the Union that Stalin put into place slowly began to dismantle upon his death. In this moment of “destalinization,” such aspects to the Soviet Union, such as Gulags, began to restructure themselves as well. Despite questionable reasoning, the restructuring of the Gulags allowed countless people to be freed from the persecution that it encompassed. “Survivors had seen the worst that life could offer, instilling some with an unquenchable courage and need to speak forthrightly.” One of those freed victims used his new found freedom to speak against the injustices that he had endured in Gulags hoping that spreading this information to the world would spark some recognition regarding what the Gulags were like for those that experienced them.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a soldier in World War II serving on behalf of the Soviet Union. His writings, on the other-hand, alluded to the fact that he was dissatisfied with Stalin and Stalin’s efforts within the Soviet Union. Because of the discovered dissatisfaction, Solzhenitsyn “spent eight years in prisons and labor camps and three years in exile.”
The memories that Solzhenitsyn forged in these prison and labor camps would fuel his writings in a manner that explained the evils of the Soviet Union and their actions within the Gulags. His most notable work, The Gulag Archipelago (1918-1956), is a prime example of the passion he felt in exposing day-to-day life in labor and prison camps.
“Solzhenitsyn’s first purpose has been to document for the Soviet people, whose Government has acknowledged only part of the truth and almost none of the responsibility, the full dimensions of what happened. A survivor himself, Solzhenitsyn feels a messianic obligation to ‘all those tortured and murdered,’ but even more to living and future generations. He wants the whole truth of official criminality and civic acquiescence openly acknowledged and condemned so that the nation can achieve spiritual and political renewal through “‘the great Russian tradition of penitence.'”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s efforts, within The Gulag Archipelago, to expose the mistreatments that occurred in prison camps were published in 1973. Unfortunately for Solzhenitsyn, 17 years after his release from exile was not enough time for the freedom of his opinions, regarding the misdoings of the Soviet Union, to be received well. “Upon the publication of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn was charged with treason and exiled from the Soviet Union.”
Although not received well by the Soviet Union, his Nobel Prize says differently. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970 for “the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.” Solzhenitsyn disregarded the condemnation he would feel and receive from his own country by speaking out, while simultaneously advocating for those that lost their lives in these prison and labor camps. Solzhenitsyn was not hindered by his experiences, but rather let them fuel his passion.
“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”-The Gulag Archipelago (1918-1956).