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Stalin's Slave Ships: Kolyma, the Gulag Fleet, and the Role of the West
     

Stalin's Slave Ships: Kolyma, the Gulag Fleet, and the Role of the West

by Martin J. Bollinger
 

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Between 1932 and 1953, a fleet of ordinary cargo ships was pressed into extraordinary service. The fleet's task was to relocate approximately one-million forced laborers to the Soviet Gulag in Kolyma, located along the Arctic Circle in far northeastern Siberia. The Kolyma Gulag, the most infamous in the Soviet Union, was accessible only by sea, and the fleet

Overview


Between 1932 and 1953, a fleet of ordinary cargo ships was pressed into extraordinary service. The fleet's task was to relocate approximately one-million forced laborers to the Soviet Gulag in Kolyma, located along the Arctic Circle in far northeastern Siberia. The Kolyma Gulag, the most infamous in the Soviet Union, was accessible only by sea, and the fleet became the lifeblood of the entire operation. As one of the largest seaborne movements of people in history, this transport took a devastating toll on human lives. Bollinger presents the often-horrific stories of the Gulag fleet and its passengers and reveals the unwitting role of the United States government in the operation. U.S. shipyards built most of the Gulag fleet, and the U.S. government sold many of the ships used in the transport directly to an agent of the Soviet Union. The United States also overhauled and repaired many ships in the Gulag fleet free of charge at the midpoint of their Gulag careers. In some cases, free ships provided to the Soviet Union under the Lend Lease military assistance program were diverted into Gulag transport duties. How much did Washington know about the deadly duty of these ships? How many prisoners made the voyage? How many never made it out alive? Bollinger details this tragic tale using firsthand testimony from those involved in the operation and materials from both American and Russian archives.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Management consultant and student of maritime history Bollinger has written a valuable book on the maritime transportation system that Stalin used to send tens of thousands of Soviet citizens to the Kolyma prison camps. In clear and concise prose, he describes not only how Stalin supplied the Gulag camps of northeastern Siberia with forced labor, but also how the European and US governments acquiesced in this slave trade and actually built or refurbished many of the ships in Stalin's fleet….Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." - Choice

"Bolinger's admirable study shines a clear light into one of the darker corners of the Soviet forced labour system, and it will be of interest both to those studying the Gulag and to maritime historians in general." - International Journal of Maritime History

"Bollinger skillfully details this tragic tale using firsthand testimony from those involved in the operation and materials from both American and Russian archives." - Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591140467
Publisher:
Naval Institute Press
Publication date:
09/15/2008
Pages:
217
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are Saying About This

David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye Brock University author
"Bollinger tells a fascinating tale about one of the more sordid chapters in the history of Stalin's forced labor empire. The book should also be read for its lessons about the West's inadvertent complicity in this sorry saga."
David Stone author of Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union
"An ingenious use of neglected sources to shed new light on the workings of Stalin's labor camp system."
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye^LBrock University^Lauthor

"Bollinger tells a fascinating tale about one of the more sordid chapters in the history of Stalin's forced labor empire. The book should also be read for its lessons about the West's inadvertent complicity in this sorry saga."
David Stone^Lauthor of ^IHammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union

"An ingenious use of neglected sources to shed new light on the workings of Stalin's labor camp system."

Meet the Author


Martin J. Bollinger has been a management consultant in the aerospace and defense industry for more than twenty-five years. A resident of Baltimore, MD, he is also the author of Warriors and Wizards.

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