The Truth about the Soviet Gulag - Surprisingly Revealed by the CIA
lies serve to brainwash the population into supporting imperialist
wars. Fed by far-right propaganda, and funded by the CIA, the mainstream
“news” outlets describe the Soviet labour camps – also known as the
“the Gulags” – as Stalin’s means to repress pro-democracy dissidents and
to enslave the Soviet masses. However, the same CIA that, through
Operation Mockingbird, gave the US military almost-total control over
mainstream press in order to foster anti-Soviet disinformation (Tracy
2018), has recently released declassified documents that invalidate the
slanders surrounding the Gulags.
CIA which conducted various anti-Soviet operations for almost five
decades, and whose staff strived to obtain accurate intelligence about
the USSR, cannot be said to have any bias in favor of the USSR.
Therefore, the following declassified CIA files that surprisingly
“confess” in favor of the Soviet Union are particularly valuable.
acknowledging the harsh conditions that existed in the Gulags – as with
any prison system in the world – the goal of this article is to shed
light on the following facts: (1) the harshness of the prisons has been
exaggerated by the Western press, with numerous lies being made up, (2)
the statistics in regards to the Gulag population have been exaggerated,
(3) there was a genuine effort at improving the prison conditions when
given the chance, and (4) the prison standards were much higher than
those of many capitalist countries.
<u>The Conditions of the Prisons</u>
1957 CIA document titled “Forced Labor Camps in the USSR: Transfer of
Prisoners between Camps” reveals the following information about the
Soviet Gulag in pages two to six:
1. Until 1952, the prisoners were given a guaranteed amount food, plus extra food for over-fulfillment of quotas
From 1952 onward, the Gulag system operated upon "economic
accountability" such that the more the prisoners worked, the more they
3. For over-fulfilling the norms by
105%, one day of sentence was counted as two, thus reducing the time
spent in the Gulag by one day.
because of the socialist reconstruction post-war, the Soviet government
had more funds and so they increased prisoners' food supplies.
Until 1954, the prisoners worked 10 hours per day, whereas the free
workers worked 8 hours per day. From 1954 onward, both prisoners and
free workers worked 8 hours per day.
6. A CIA study of a sample camp showed that 95% of the prisoners were actual criminals.
In 1953, amnesty was given to 70% of the "ordinary criminals" of a
sample camp studied by the CIA. Within the next 3 months, most of them
were re-arrested for committing new crimes.
The following are excerpts of the CIA document, underlined and put together for the reader:
facts negate the narrative that Gulag prisoners were unpaid. The labour
was indeed forced; however, material rewards were provided. The
prisoners were paid from 1952 onward, and rewarded by food prior to
According to bourgeois
fantasies, the Soviet “regime” sought to deliberately starve the Gulag
populations. However, as a matter of fact, there indeed were Soviet
efforts to increase the food supply of prisoners, after World War II.
fact that the working day was only two hours more than that of the free
workers until 1954, and equal to that of the free worker from 1954
onward is a clear demonstration of the egalitarian tendencies of the
All the while,
the noteworthy fact is that criminals, not “pro-democracy
revolutionaries” were sent to the Gulags. Like all justice systems,
there certainly were errors and some innocent people were sent to the
prisons; the point though is that this fact has been exaggerated by the
compare the Soviet system to that of the United States. The
13th amendment permits prison slavery, with many prisoners victimized by
racial profiling. Even the Clinton Dynasty had slaves in the Arkansas
Province (News 2017).
to page four of another CIA (1989) document titled “The Soviet Labour
System: An Update,” the number of Gulag prisoners “grew to about 2
million” during Stalin’s time.
figures match Soviet statistics as well, from declassified Soviet
achieves. The following is a 1954 declassified Soviet archival document
(Pykhalov), an excerpt of which is translated into English:
the period from 1921 to the present time for counterrevolutionary
crimes were convicted 3,777,380 people, including to capital punishment –
642,980 people to the conent in the camps and prisons for a period of
25 years old and under – 2,369,220 into exile and expulsion – 765,190
"Of the total number
of convicts, approximately convicted: 2,900,000 people – College of
OGPU, NKVD and triples Special meeting and 877,000 people – courts by
military tribunals, and Spetskollegiev Military Collegium.
should be noted… that established by Decree … on November 3, 1934
Special Meeting of the NKVD which lasted until September 1, 1953 –
442,531 people were convicted, including to capital punishment – 10,101
people to prison – 360,921 people to exile and expulsion (within the
country) – 57,539 people and other punishments (offset time in
detention, deportation abroad, compulsory treatment) – 3,970 people…
Attorney General R. Rudenko
Interior Minister S. Kruglov
Justice Minister K. Gorshenin"
Soviet archives remained declassified for decades, only to be released
near or after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition, after
Stalin died, the pro-Stalin head of the NKVD (Soviet interior ministry)
Lavrenty Beria had already been executed by Khrushchev, a staunch
anti-Stalinist (History in an hour 2010). These facts make it very
unlikely that the Soviet intelligence would have a pro-Stalin bias.
The Italian-American historian Michael Parenti (1997, pp. 79-80) further analyzes the data provided from the Soviet archives:
1993, for the first time, several historians gained access to
previously secret Soviet police archives and were able to establish
well-documented estimates of prison and labor camp populations. They
found that the total population of the entire gulag as of January 1939,
near the end of the Great Purges, was 2,022,976. At about that time,
there began a purge of the purgers, including many intelligence and
secret police (NKVD) officials and members of the judiciary and other
investigative committees, who were suddenly held responsible for the
excesses of the terror despite their protestations of fidelity to the
"Soviet labor camps were not death camps
like those the Nazis built across Europe. There was no systematic
extermination of inmates, no gas chambers or crematoria to dispose of
millions of bodies…. [T]he great majority of gulag inmates survived and
eventually returned to society when granted amnesty or when their terms
were finished. In any given year, 20 to 40 percent of the inmates were
released, according to archive records. Oblivious to these facts, the
Moscow correspondent of the New York Times (7/31/96) continues to
describe the gulag as 'the largest system of death camps in modern
"Almost a million gulag prisoners were
released during World War II to serve in the military. The archives
reveal that more than half of all gulag deaths for the 1934-53 period
occurred during the war years (1941-45), mostly from malnutrition, when
severe privation was the common lot of the entire Soviet population.
(Some 22 million Soviet citizens perished in the war.) In 1944, for
instance, the labor-camp death rate was 92 per 1000. By 1953, with the
postwar recovery, camp deaths had declined to 3 per 1000.
all gulag inmates be considered innocent victims of Red repression?
Contrary to what we have been led to believe, those arrested for
political crimes ('counterrevolutionary offenses') numbered from 12 to
33 percent of the prison population, varying from year to year. The vast
majority of inmates were charged with nonpolitical offenses: murder,
assault, theft, banditry, smuggling, swindling, and other violations
punishable in any society."
according to the CIA, approximately two million people were sent to the
Gulag in the 1930s, whereas according to declassified Soviet archives,
2,369,220 up until 1954. When compared to the population of the USSR at
the time, as well as the statistics of a country like the United States,
the Gulag percent population in the USSR throughout its history was
lower than that of the United States today or since the 1990s. In fact,
based on Sousa's (1998)research, there was a larger percentage of
prisoners (relative to the whole population) in the US, than there ever
was in the USSR:
“In a rather small news item
appearing in the newspapers of August 1997, the FLT-AP news agency
reported that in the US there had never previously been so many people
in the prison system as the 5.5 million held in 1996. This represents an
increase of 200,000 people since 1995 and means that the number of
criminals in the US equals 2.8% of the adult population. These data are
available to all those who are part of the North American department of
justice…. The number of convicts in the US today is 3 million higher
than the maximum number ever held in the Soviet Union! In the Soviet
Union, there was a maximum of 2.4% of the adult population in prison for
their crimes – in the US the figure is 2.8% and rising! According to a
press release put out by the US department of justice on 18 January
1998, the number of convicts in the US in 1997 rose by 96,100.”
the USSR as a major ideological challenge, the Western imperial
bourgeoisie demonized Stalin and the Soviet Union. Yet after decades of
propaganda, declassified archives from both the US and USSR together
debunk these anti-Soviet slanders. Worth our attention is the fact that
the CIA – a fiercely anti-Soviet source – has published declassified
documents debunking the very anti-Soviet myths it promoted and continues
to promote in the mainstream media. Together with declassified Soviet
archives, the CIA files have demonstrated that the bourgeois press has
lied about the Gulags.
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery. (n.d.).
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Intelligence Agency (CIA). (1989). THE SOVIET FORCED LABOR SYSTEM: AN
UPDATE (GI-M 87-20081). Retrieved February 12, 2018,
Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2010, February 22). 1. FORCED LABOR CAMPS
IN THE USSR 2. TRANSFER OF PRISONERS BETWEEN CAMPS 3. DECREES ON RELEASE
FROM FORCED LABOR 4. ATTITUDE OF SOVIET PRISON OFFICIALS TOWARD
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and Bill used 'slave labour'. (2017, June 08). Retrieved June 10, 2017,
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репрессий»? Retrieved August 28, 2018,
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