The project - Description
Kolyma: The white crematorium
Kolyma was for Stalin what Auschwitz was for Hitler. The worst camp system within an inhumane and criminal system of suppression. It is recommended to be careful not to compare the two systems directly, but in spite of the many differences between the KZ and the GULAG systems there were also many similarities.
There is one very fundamental difference on Auschwitz and Kolyma: We have far better documentation on the crimes committed by the Nazi regime, that we have on the atrocities committed by the Soviet regime and soon the last living witnesses from Kolyma will die and take the history with them without it ever being registered. Therefore we must do one last and final effort to save the history for future generation and I hope people, companies, governments and organisations will support me with the financial means I need to accomplish it.
Expeditions into the past
To be able to tell the history of Kolyma we need to base the it on spoken evidence more than usual. Many archives have been destroyed, others have been closed by Putin's government and it is not likely the the new president will change that, and much archive material have been falsified. The problem with oral material it is very open for interpretation and often it is very biased because of all kinds of human reasons. That is why we also need to make cross references with "archaeological" research, that is, to go on expeditions to the old abandoned camps and there better understand the statements and often to confirm or reject the stories told. But also the archeological part is urgent as the camps are disintegrating by the harsh climate and the mining industry in the area.
A project easy to explain
My plan is to raise funds to be able to collet and compile material in the Magadan region in the extreme North East of Russia, where Kolyma, or Dalstroy which was the name of the organisation, had it's centre, and to go to other countries where I can cross reference the facts from the Russian sources. These countries are first of all the USA, Japan, Great Britain and Poland.
To accomplish this I need the means to work full time for two years with a small team of people. These will be an interpreter, a Russian historian in the Kolyma area, a history student in the West and maybe a history student from Russia (Moscow area).
Of course three to four people even of the finest abilities cannot record the full history of more than one million prisoners during only two years. But what can be done is to get through with the overall and chronological history of all the camp system in Kolyma and finally present a qualified history of this inhuman system.
Why use Western funds on this project?
Should it not be the Russians who makes this research? Yes, but that will not be so with the present situation in Russia. Research in Kolyma has practically ceased and this before it really got started.
Of course the Russians aught to reserve funds for this research about their own ancestors. They really owe this to their forefathers who went through so many sufferings and hardships and as long as Russian does not come at terms with their tragic history the sead for new imperialistic adventures will be present in this in many other ways magnificent country.
In terms of policies of security in the West, we have a direct interest in revealing this part of history. The prime victims of Kolyma were the Russians themselves, but we should also have an interest because it is World history. The giant proportions alone makes it World history, but also the nationalities of the victims does it. In Kolyma there were thousands of Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Belorussians, Balts and many Finns, Norwegians, Swedes, Germans, Chinese, Japanese and some Danes, Americans, Dutch, Spainards, Italians, and Rumanians and most likely more nationalities of whom I do not know.
The outcome of the project
The project have two aims. The main thing is to register and safeguard the history. All material will go to the archives of human rights organisation Memorial (link), to save it for future generations and historians.
The second aim is dissemination. Right now I am working on a book with the spoken history of Kolyma. Next will be lectures for schools and universities and later I will write a history book about Kolyma. Further I will use my material for a documentary film, articles, exhibitions and so on. Memorial plans to publish my book in Russia.
Your support is important
I hope you will help me to promote my project and advocate in favour of funding it. We owe this to the victims and although we cannot make justice for them, then at least we can do an effort not to forget their history.
You can also support me directly. To do that, please contact me via email.
Thank you very much for your support.
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Verkhnie at Urjakh, the centre of one of the richest gold ores ever in the World. Today it is an uninhabited ruin, apart from a few private gold diggers who stay there during the gold season in the summer. Photo: Jens Alstrup 2007.
Jury Lvovich Fidelgolts on the very day of his release from the wolfram mine in Alaskinskaya, app. 1.000 km. North of Magadan. We owe him and his fellow prisoners to tell the history of the horrors they were through. Jury Lvovich have been an invaluable source of many of the informations I have about Kolyma. Photo by courtesy of Jury Lvovich Fidelgolts.