Gulag survivors hail Solzhenitsyn as a hero

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Gulag survivors hail Solzhenitsyn as a hero

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For Gulag survivors, Alexander Solzhenitsyn is the man who broke the silence over Soviet labour camps.

The Nobel Prize winning author spared no details of the horrors of Josef Stalin’s prison system in his debut novel, “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.”

The publication of his work allowed other Gulag survivors to share their own terrible memories; experiences they could not tell their own children.

Susanna Pechora, 75, is one such survivor. She was only 17 when she was arrested and sent to a labour camp for allegedly plotting against the Kremlin.

“People who weren’t there asked in horror, ‘Was it really like that?’ We told them just a little of the truth,” she said.

For Pechora, Solzhenitsyn’s work marked a breakthrough – something she knew she would share with her family in later life.

“It was a heroic act (Solzhenitsyn’s work) which made people think but there were such terrible things (described) there and I didn’t give my children or my grandson the “Gulag Archipelago” until they had grown up,” she adds.

Her friends were 18 and were shot after their arrest.

Pechuro was released after four years in the amnesty which followed the death of Stalin.