Talk:Solovki prison camp

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What did Gorky know?[edit]

  • Yuri Brodsky (Юрий Бродский), Solovki. 20 years of Special Regime (Соловки. 20 лет особого назначения).

Whether or not Gorky know of local conditions will remain a mystery

This is not exactly true, according to Solzhenicin some young boy informed Gorky of what was going on in the camp including in all the macabre details. See his book "Gulag Archipelago"

But Gorky spoke with the boy behind closed doors. Because the boy appears to have been shot afterwards, and Gorky never said anything about it, there is no verifiable source what Gorky knew exactly. Popular myth has it that Gorky was crying after he left the boy, but again, this revolves around verifiable information and that is not available. Errabee 14:28, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

There are other stories about Gorky's visit. In the 1987 Goldovskaya film, "The Solovki Regime" it is stated that a prisoner in the suspiciously clean and tidy reading room deliberately held the prison's propaganda newspaper upside down when Gorky entered.

Gorky took the newspaper out of the man's hands and turned it the right way up, the implication being that he understood this hint that a show had been put on to impress him.

The difficulty is to find documentary confirmation of what Gorky did and didn't know then.

John Crowfoot (talk) 10:13, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Under notable prisoners...[edit]

I've reverted this to the following...


  • H.H.Vinogradov - ethnographer
  • O.V.Volkov - writer
  • M.N.Voronoy - poet

Naftaly Frenkel was at first a prisoner, but later became commander of the camp.

Why this strange format? Somehow I feel that Frenkel should not be in the list of prisoners, because he was the most infamous commandant of the camp, responsible for much of the suffering. Including him in the same list as his victims would really be an insult to the victims.
Nevertheless, he was a prisoner, so omitting him from the section would be an oversight. How to solve the problem? Two separate lists (one exclusively for Frenkel) in the same section. Some might say this is POV and prohibited by WP rules, but I don't think so. Including him in the same list would be POV to me. In any case WP:IAR could very well apply. If somebody does insist on putting him in the list, at least properly alphabetize. Smallbones (talk) 13:53, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

It's a very good point. Mention of Frenkel needs expanding and is in no sense POV.

Often such prisoners were security service personnel who had fallen out favour. In the camps they were given supervisory roles and continued to serve the GPU / OGPU / NKVD / NKGB etc monster and torment the other prisoners.

If you look at the brief account of Solovki jailer Pyotr Raevsky's career on the Mikhail Matveyev (NKVD officer) page (look at the "Life after Stalin" section) you will see just such a pattern.

John Crowfoot (talk) 10:07, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Changing the name of this article[edit]

Over the past month I have worked on several Wiki pages that relate to Solovki.

In particular, these concern Sandarmokh the site where the first transport were executed in October and November and Yury A. Dmitriev (a page I originated) who discovered Sandarmokh and also the site on Solovki where the others on the execution list were buried.

Earlier, I added to the reading list for Solovki two more memoirs that refer directly to the earliest and last periods of this remote penitentiary facility.

In my view, based on 30 years' familiarity with the subject - I translated the subtitles for Marina Goldovskaya's film in 1987, I saw Oleg Volkov talk, and I met and talked to Olga Sliozberg - it is right to refer to the location simply as Solovki, so long as it's location in the White Sea is made clear.

The title "Solovki prison camp", however, is inherently unsatisfactory.

One, it is an oxymoron. Prison was and remains a harsher regime for those imprisoned or detained in the Soviet Union or today's Russia (e.g. Alexei Pichugin). So what does "prison camp" mean?

Two, this is not a translation of any title for the institution in Russian - doing a reverse translation into Russian shows up that absurdity.

Three, this title leaves out a significant element of the facility's description, both as a camp (1923-1936) and in its last few years as a prison (1936-1939). In both cases it was described in Russian as "special purpose". This can best be duplicated in English by calling it the Solovki special camp and the Solovki special prison (better without inverted commas, I've been advised).

The process of renaming appears complicated and in all the "Also see" links I am providing in other articles currently under revision I describe it as the Solovki special prison.

I hope we can reach some consensus on the nomenclature.

John Crowfoot (talk) 09:53, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Shalamov was never imprisoned on Solovki[edit]

I have looked carefully at the referenced English page for Shalamov, and then at the page for him on Russian Wikipedia, and there is no evidence that he was ever imprisoned on the islands.

Instead, he served time first in the Perm Region, and later in Kolyma.

Accordingly, I am removing Shalamov's name from this list.

John Crowfoot (talk) 16:26, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

Regrouping the list of notable prisoners[edit]

At present, the 20-30 names are listed by surname in (Latin) alphabetical order.

This does not sit very well, IMHO, with the rest of the article where the evolution of Solovki is clearly described. Those changes fall into three periods:

- the 1920s when the camp was used to isolate its prisoners for a few years from the rest of society;

- the period of the First Five-Year Plan (1928-1932) when efforts were made, under the direction of former prisoner Naftaly Frenkel, to make the camps pay for themselves;

- the late 1930s when many of the leading intellectuals and spiritual leaders held on Solovki were executed in fulfilment of quotas distributed from Moscow.

Regrouping the list in such a way may give readers a better feel for the changing nature of activities on Solovki and in the Gulag as a whole.

John Crowfoot (talk) 16:59, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

The sorting by period looks more informative, to me at least, and has been largely successful.

I still cannot identify G.J. Gordon, a historian, from other sources.

There were two names that were removed from the list. One, mentioned above, is that of Varlam Shalamov; the other, removed today, is Sergei Askoldov. Both were arrested more than once, but neither ever spent time on Solovki.

John Crowfoot (talk) 04:55, 18 August 2017 (UTC)

Why is he here?[edit]

I have been tempted, once again, to remove the following prisoner from the 1930s list because he seems to fall completely out of the time period when Solovki served as a camp or prison:

" Hamid bey Shahtakhtinski, Minister of Education and Religious Affairs of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920): imprisoned 1941-1944 when he died."

Perhaps, however, he was held as a solitary captive, sent as far away from his native Azerbaijan as possible. Until further information is available, confirming that he was held on Solovki during the war years, therefore, I think he should remain.

John Crowfoot (talk) 06:08, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

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