Study Guide

Gulag: A History - Part 2, Chapter 14: The Prisoners—Summary Summary & Analysis

Anne Applebaum
This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gulag.
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Part 2, Chapter 14: The Prisoners—Summary

Within the camps were several different types of prisoners. Prison memoirs describe in detail encounters with the urki, the Russian professional criminals, as shocking and bewildering. The urki, or "thieves-in-law," sat atop the prisoner hierarchy in the camps and were distinct from the ordinary criminals within the camps who had been arrested for petty crimes. The urki followed their own culture, with foundations in the criminal underground of Czarist Russia. Although the re-education programs targeted the urki, by the 1930's, camp authorities had given up this idea and begun using the urki to control other prisoners. Urki dressed differently, used their own language and rules, and gave themselves identifying tattoos. The thieves also played card games with elaborate rituals, often betting other prisoners' goods and food rations.

Peasants and workers made up the vast majority of...

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This section contains 523 words
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