Cover Osteuropa 6/2007

In Osteuropa 6/2007

The Cursed Order
Shalamov, Solzhenitsyn, and the Criminals

Michail Ryklin

Deutsche Fassung


Professional criminals played an important role in the Gulag camps. They were an order unto themselves with their own laws and practices. These criminals impressed Solzhenitsyn; Shalamov held them in contempt as barbarians. The ways and means by which they exercised their power reveals surprising parallels between these criminals and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in which the political police, which understood itself as an order, was a key instrument of power. Their rule was based on the same methods: denunciation, fear, cynicism, and contempt of all human solidarity and private property. The convergence of Soviet ideology with the criminal milieu is not the result of some misunderstanding or a mistake; it is inherent in this ideology. And the shadows reach into the present.

(Osteuropa 6/2007, pp. 107–136)