January 7, 2018

“Gulag Archipelago”: Exposing the anticommunist fabrications of Solzhenitsyn

By Nikos Mottas*.
Originally published in atexnos.gr.
Translated from Greek.

One of the most famous and celebrated works of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, the “Gulag Archipelago”, has been for a long time a kind of “holy bible” for every anticommunist. Firstly published in 1973, it- supposedly- consists an analytical record of the conditions existed in the so-called “labour camps” of the Soviet Union. Within the framework of the slanderous anticommunist campaign, bourgeois historiography has extensively promoted Solzhenitsyn's work as a source of arguments about the so-called “Stalinist dictatorship” and “communist crimes” in the Soviet Union.

However, there is a fundamental problem in the work of the deeply reactionary Solzhenitsyn: Gulag Archipelago is a completely antiscientific book, based almost entirely in rumors, speculations, third party opinions as well as interpretations of opinions by Solzenitsyn himself! In other words, the reader of this book becomes “hostage” of a novel type, unverifiable, recording to alleged events by Solzenitsyn and others who supposedly “saw”, “heard” or “learned” something.

Even people who have nothing friendly to say about Stalin admit that Solzhenitsyn's work is nothing but fairy tales. Let's see what trotskyite historian and writer Vadim Z. Rogovin writes: “Solzhenitsyn’s work, much like the more objective works of R. Medvedev, belong to the genre which the West calls "oral history," i.e., research which is based almost exclusively on eyewitness accounts of participants in the events being described. Moreover, using the circumstance that the memoirs from prisoners in Stalin’s camps which had been given to him to read had never been published, Solzhenitsyn took plenty of license in outlining their contents and interpreting them” [1]. In fact, Solzenitsyn edited and cited, according to his own reactionary views, third parties' testimonials in which he added anticommunist fabrications thus creating the “Archipelago” fairy tale.

Solzhenitsyn's first wife, Natalya Reshetovskaya, seems to confirm the fact that “Gulag Archipelago” consists a fictional and completely non-scientific book. In her autobiography published in 1974 under the title “Sanya: My Life with Alexandr Solzhenitsyn”, Reshetovskaya actually challenges the validity of what Solzenitsyn writes in “Gulag Archipelago”. According to Reshetovskaya, she was “perplexed” by the fact that the the book was accepted by the western (capitalist) world as “the solemn, ultimate truth”, saying that the significance of his ex-husband's work had been “overestimated and wrongly appraised”. [2]. Furthermore, Reshetovskaya unveiled that Solzhenitsyn himself did not regard the book as “historical research, or scientific research, but it was rather a “camp folklore” collection!

More or less, Reshetovskaya actually says that “Gulag Archipelago” isn't a work that should be taken seriously or accepted as a valid source. The fact that Solzhenitsyn's book is full of lies and inaccuracies is something that can be confirmed by a comparison of the data presented in the “Gulag Archipelago” with the real numbers. There lies a significant problem for the credibility of the much celebrated “nobelist” and former Nazi collaborator Solzhenitsyn: He presents fake numbers!

The following chart, published at the official journal of the Union of American Historians, includes the overall statistical data for the custodial population in the USSR from 1934 to 1953, during a period of Joseph Stalin's leadership. Let's now see how the numbers, researched and checked by bourgeois scientists and published at the American Historical Review, refute Solzhenitsyn's anticommunist fabrications.

1st : Alexander Solzhenitsyn's argument about 60 million deaths (!) at the Soviet labour camps consists a product of his deeply anticommunist fantasy and profound lie.

2st : Solzhenitsyn's argument about 25 million detained people at the labour camps (“gulags”) in 1953 is a vulgar lie. In 1953, the overall number of the imprisoned people was not over 2.5 million. Two million were criminal prisoners, convicted for crimes or ordinary criminal law.

3rd: In the peak of his anticommunist paranoia, Solzhenitsyn had claimed that the total number of victims during Stalin's period were... 110 million people! If this ridiculous claim was correct then, normally, the Soviet Union's population during Stalin's leadership (1924-1953) should have been decreased significantly. However, statistical data about the USSR's population prove exactly the opposite!

On January 1926, the population of the Soviet Union was 148.6 million people. Fifteen years later, onJune 1941 the population had been increased to 196.7 million. A decrease in USSR's population took place between 1941 and 1946 (170.5 million), which is explainable by the huge casualties of the country during the Second World War. After the War, during the period 1946-1951, the Soviet Union's population increased again, reaching 182.3 million people on January 1951 [4]. As for the annual birth rate in the USSR between 1920 and 1950, it is extremely insufficient in order to overlap (in terms of population) the number of the supposed “million deaths” of the Stalin era [5].

Solzhenitsyn is proved to be a blatant liar. Nonetheless, if someone isn't convinced yet about the anticommunist fabrications of Solzenitsyn and the other “stalinologists” (e.g. Robert Conquest), there is more to come.

After the victory of counterrevolution and the overthrow of socialism in the USSR, the bourgeois government of Boris Yeltsin decided to open the official soviet state archives, hoping that they would find evidence about the “million victims of the stalinist era”. But, what did the official soviet state archives reveal? They revealed that the actual number of those who were sentenced to death during the period of Stalin's leadership, from 1923 to 1952, is between 776,000 and 786,000 people [6]. The “million victims of stalinism” that Solzhenitsyn, Conquest and other pathetic anticommunists wrote about, consist propagandistic fairy tales.

Taking all the above into account, we can now ask a final question: How credible is an anticommunist fairy tale that is full of inaccuracies and monstrous lies? How serious must someone take the fabrications of Solzhenitsyn about Socialism, the USSR and Stalin? We leave on literature critics to evaluate “Gulag Archipelago” as a novel. But what is clear and beyond doubt is that Solzhenitsyn's book is a non-scientific, anticommunist fabrication full of lies and slanders. In a few words, nothing more or less than the spiritual product of a nazi collaborator, a reactionary and a fascist.


[1] Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Stalin’s Year of Terror, Mehring Books, 1998.
[2] Reshetovskaya, Natalya. Sanya: My Life With Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Indianapolis/New York, Bobbs-Merrill Co, 1974. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/06/world/natalya-reshetovskaya-84-is-dead-solzhenitsyn-s-wife-questioned-gulag.html.
[3] The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1017-1049.
[4] Andreev, E.M., et al., Naselenie Sovetskogo Soiuza, 1922-1991. Moscow, Nauka, 1993.
[5] BT.Urlanis, Trends in fertility level in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the years of Soviet rule, 1980.
[6] Getty J.A, Rittersporn G, Zemskov V. Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Prewar Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence, American Historical Review, 98:4, Oct. 1993.

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