‘A Talk by Mikhail Nakonechny
Since the opening of classified GULAG archives in the early 1990s, there has been a consensus that the death toll of prisoners in the GULAG between 1930-1955 is around 1,760,000. For well over 20 years this consensus has not been seriously challenged.
Nakonechny’s research aims to challenge this consensus through detailed analysis of an important practice that still remains largely unexplored: the early release of many prisoners “on medical grounds.” Many of these prisoners were terminally ill, and many died on the doorsteps of the camps. Their deaths, however, were never included in official GULAG medical reports. This allowed GULAG officials and doctors at all administrative levels to artificially reduce death rates in an attempt to avoid prosecution by the supervising authorities.
Those who died shortly after their release, from illnesses contracted in the camps, should, of course, be considered as previously uncounted victims of the GULAG. The actual death toll in the GULAG, and especially in some of the most deadly camps, may therefore prove to be higher than the current consensus.’ (PH)