– DACHA –
with prisoners and the island’s monuments. The monastery that was located on the islands before they were turned into a camp had much harsher policies. It took advantage of the free labor to construct a dam. But the camp provided literacy education. Inmates are learning to read in their free time – the lettered cubes on the screen say ‘not slaves’.
The films were a perfectly-orchestrated confusion. Linguistics helped, as the word ‘camp’ also means a collective organized holiday for children. Dmitrii Likhachev, a renowned historian of ancient Russian literature, was a prisoner at Solovki for four years in the early 1930s. He described the film as an absolute lie, noting that when he was free, he found himself in a different camp, of much bigger scale.3
In 1964, the communist-printed Pravda (Truth) cited Brezhnev’s words that ‘it [was] not secret to anyone that in the years of Stalin’s personality cult, housing construction was much neglected and the housing problem became quite acute.’
Stalin’s years were not only years of WWII destruction; the attention went to the construction of camps, a different type of living space in the Soviet Union. It was during these years that the camps formed an important part of the Soviet economy and slave labor was used for the most ambitious construction projects, administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The stunning
3 Documentary Dmitrii Likhachev: I Recall, 1988.