21. September 2008 19:00
A piece of Russian history and political repression is coming to Fond du Lac in October when Moraine Park Technical College hosts the “Gulag – History of a Camp” exhibit presented by the Midwest Institute and Gulag Museum at Perm-36. The display is open to the public.
This traveling exhibit of a Gulag prison consists of 13 photo and narrative panels, artifacts such as a prison shirt and barbed wire, and a short documentary film. It will be located near the Moraine Park library in the second-floor gallery Oct. 6-27 and may be viewed during regular campus hours.
The Gulag Museum at Perm-36 preserves and interprets a Gulag camp built under Joseph Stalin in 1946 near the city of Perm in the village of Kutschino, Russia. From 1946-1956 it was a Stalinist labor camp; from 1956-1971 it was a labor camp for high Soviet officials; and from 1972 until 1987 dissidents and human rights activists were imprisoned there. During the last period, the existence and location of the camp were a highly guarded secret. When it closed in 1987 as part of President Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost (openness) policy, it was the primary facility in the Soviet Union for those charged with political crimes. Although there were more than 12,000 forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union which imprisoned 18 million people, Perm-36 is the last surviving example from the system.
“When I learned that the Midwest Institute was making the Gulag exhibit available to its members, I was very interested in bringing it to Moraine Park because it brings to life a significant time in the lives of many of our residents,” said Bobbi Laine, Moraine Park dean of general and international education. “While Stalin's terror could have ended with his death, it lived on until the break-up of the Soviet Union. The mystery of Siberian prison camps and life in the Gulag has extended to the present for many of us, making this a first-hand glimpse of the harsh realities prisoners endured.
“While teaching in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, I had a chance to interview former prisoners and I'm particularly looking forward to making the connection between their stories and this exhibit,” added Laine.
Admission to the exhibit is free and donations are accepted.