GULAG EXHIBIT – Comes To Independence, California!

Manzanar National Historic Site and the Eastern California Museum host “GULAG: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom”.

The exhibit will be on display at the Eastern California Museum in Independence, California. Manzanar Superintendent Tom Leatherman notes, “We are honored to be the only west coast venue for this powerful exhibit.

We are delighted once again to partner with the Eastern California Museum which has worked with us for the past three years to bring this exhibit to Inyo County.”

View more information about the exhibit.

Saturday, February 17, 2007
Exhibit Opening Weekend Reception

From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, the Independence Chamber of Commerce will host a reception at the Eastern California Museum. The public is invited to enjoy refreshments and music as they explore the exhibit of labor camp artifacts, case studies, photographs, video footage, and documents. Guest speakers will be from the National Park Service and Inyo County.

Sunday, February 18, 2007
Screening of Two Gulag Themed Films

At 11:00 a.m. A Forgotten Odyssey will be shown at the Manzanar Interpretive Center. This 52 minute documentary exposes the stories of survivors of the forced Soviet annexation of eastern Poland during World War II.

At 1:00 p.m. The Cold Summer of 1953 will be shown at the Manzanar Interpretive Center. This is a 96 minute dramatic film which takes place after Stalin’s death and depicts the efforts of two Gulag survivors to help protect a village from bandits.

February 17, 2007 through April 15, 2007
“Faces of Resistance”

Also displayed at the Manzanar National Historic Site will be “Faces of Resistance” an exhibit of 48 photographs of dissenters in the human rights movement of the 1970’s.

Their peaceful resistance, helped eventually topple the Soviet regime, and expose the abuses of the gulag.

Locations of the Gulag Exhibit Programs
The Eastern California Museum is located at 155 North Grant Street, 3 blocks west of the courthouse, in Independence.

The Museum is open every day except Tuesdays. The Museum’s phone number is (760) 878-0258. Admission is free.

Manzanar National Historic Site is located six miles south of Independence on US Highway 395 and contains exhibits and audiovisual programs related to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.

Press Release: GULAG exhibit in Independence, California

The National Park Service, in a unique partnership with the Gulag Museum at Perm-36, Russia, the International Memorial Society, and Amnesty International USA, is presenting the first exhibition in the United States on the Soviet Gulag.

As a part of the National Park Service commitment to civic engagement at Manzanar National Historic Site and other sites, GULAG:Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom opened on Ellis Island in May, 2006, and will travel to National Park Service venues around the country including Boston, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Independence, California.

The exhibit traces the history of the Soviet Union’s forced labor camp system and its impact on Russia and the world today.

The vast network of labor camps both repressed political opposition and provided labor to fuel the Soviet Union’s economic engine.

Highlighted in the exhibit is the history of one camp in Russia’s Ural Mountains, Perm-36. Russians committed to preserving the memory of the Gulag have transformed the labor camp into a historic site and museum.

GULAG was the acronym for the Soviet bureaucratic institution Glavnoe Upravlenie ispravitel’no-trudovykh Lagerie (Main Administration of Corrective Labor Camps).

This branch of the secret police oversaw the Soviet forced labor camp and internal exile system. Between the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, some 25 million people were held in the Gulag system.

The combination of endemic violence, extreme climate, hard labor, meager food rations, and unsanitary conditions led to extremely high death rates in the camps.

The GULAG exhibit contains four sections. The first part details the growth of the Gulag under Josef Stalin, describes the prisoners and their supposed “crimes” and depicts a typical day in the life of a Gulag prisoner.

The second section highlights the human rights movement in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s and details how Perm-36 was converted into a high security camp for political prisoners.

The third section examines the legacy of the Gulag in Russia today and focuses on the efforts of the Gulag Museum at Perm-36 to educate young Russians on the history of the Gulag and the totalitarian state.

The final section depicts efforts of Russia’s Gulag Museum and historic sites around the world to explore and give meaning to the difficult chapters of history of their own countries.

The exhibit features archival footage, full-scale recreations of prison camp cells, prisoner artwork, maps, historic photographs, and artifacts depicting daily camp life.

The exhibit enjoyed a successful opening run at Ellis Island in New York where tens of thousands visited the exhibit, and it received significant critical acclaim.

The New York Times (June 7, 2006) called the exhibit “powerful” and declared that “small things tell large truths… in spareness and simplicity”.

The Wall Street Journal (June 27, 2006) wrote that the small artivacts with which the story is told “are strikingly effective” and overall the exhibit has an “affecting, mesmerizing quality” which dramatically engages visitors.

The National Review Online (August 1, 2006) congratulated the exhibit organizers for bringing “the often overlooked horrors (and lessons) of the Gulag to a wider audience”.