Interrogating the past

Nikolai Getman, "In the NKVD's Dungeon" (n.d.)
Nikolai Getman,
“In the NKVD’s Dungeon” (n.d.)

For the millions of citizens swept-up into the Soviet prison camp (GULag) system that flourished under Stalin, one of the most harrowing experiences involved the initial interrogation. Undertaken for the sole purpose of extracting a confession of “guilt,” the process unfolded beyond the confines of law or reason.

The following (long) excerpt, taken from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (1973), enumerates the incredible variety of methods employed by Party’s “organs” during the course of their “investigative” proceedings.

Let us try to list some of the simplest methods which break the will and the character of the prisoner without leaving marks on his body.

Let us begin with psychological methods. These methods have enormous and even annihilating impact on rabbits who have never been prepared for prison suffering. And it isn’t easy even for a person who holds strong moral convictions…