Prisoners Without Borders: Zazonniki and the Transformation of Vorkuta after Stalin

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This article offers new insight into the nature of the Stalinist Gulag and the transformation of the Soviet prison camp system under Khrushchev. Looking at the infamous Vorkuta Arctic camp com-plex, it examines an oft-overlooked category of prisoners: zazonniki, those who were allowed to live outside the territory of the camp “zone.” According to official Gulag regulations, camp directors were allowed to grant such permission only under very limited circumstances. However, Vorkuta camp directors repeatedly flouted the rules, granting permission to hundreds and even thousands of prisoners. They did so chiefly in three cases: first, by “default,” when camp “zones” were not en-closed, so that prisoners were not separated from non-prisoners; second, as a way for “patrons” in the camp administration to reward prisoner “clients” who had particularly valuable skills; finally, as a means of navigating the difficult economic and political upheaval of the post-Stalin period, when Gulag towns an
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-534
JournalJahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


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