Forced Labor Camps in the Communist Countries

After Stalin's death in 1953 several amnesties were granted in the communist countries of Eastern Europe. In 1956 the western press reported about strong indications that the whole labor camp system was undergoing revision. The internal forced labor systems had been greatly reduced and the remainder greatly modified, and numbers of the citizens of People's Democracies had been released from Soviet camps and returned home.Conditions in these forced labor camps varied from fair to incredibly bad, many camps earned the reputation of being "death camps" because of hight mortality rates due to the amount of labot exacted, and the brutal conditions under which it was performed. Hunger, brutality, fear, and death were companions of the forced laborer.
   Scroll arrow right.gif (850 bytes)
arrow left.gif (848 bytes) Back
Kemenyfi.jpg (28192 bytes)
Béla Keményfi, a former Gulag prisoner, wrote a book called - ‘Hungarian Scouts a Beyond the Arctic Circle’ (1989). It is a shocking documentary of the time. At sixteen years of age its author was practically a child when, following a short term as prisoner of war, he was interned in the Hungarian-Soviet Interior Agencies’ prison. He was shot in the spine while attempting to escape, but even the fact that he had been crippled did not prevent Soviet authorities from condemning him, and sending him through the hell of detention, penitentiary, and forced labor camps. In 1953 the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union reviewed the 1946 sentence of the military court and rehabilitated Bela Kemenyfi.
Photograph and documents below are property of Bela Kemenyfi:

hungarians_S.jpg (3957 bytes)

igazolas_S.jpg (14299 bytes)

kemenyfi2_S.jpg (16522 bytes)




Hungarian and Russian prisoners, from left to right: Vaytov, Horvath, Matushinka, Butin, and Nikolai. Sever, 1952. Medical certificate and ID paper issued by the Hungarian People’s Republic. November 1953.
Rehabilitation document. December 30, 1960.
János Rózsás became a soviet prisoner of war at 18 years of age, and spent nine years of his life
as a political prisoner in various prisons and labor camps.   Long after he became well for his friendship with
Alexander Solzhenitsin. The writer mentions him by name in the first volume of his book The Gulag Archipelago.
Letters sent from camps, property of János Rózsás.

RozsasBook.jpg (18022 bytes)

2s.jpg (10926 bytes)

5s.jpg (9384 bytes)

János Rózsás’ book was first printed in Munich in 1986 under the title ‘Bitter Youth’. A year later it was followed by the continuation of his story called ‘Life Giving Hope’.
This letter was written from the camp in Nikolaev with the help of a Moldavian fellow prisoner. Rózsás purchased the paper of the letter with half of his daily bread ration.  May 1945.
Letter sent following Rózsás'
release in 1953 on his way home.
"In this ever-renewed hell of suffering, where I struggled in the agony caused by starvation, cold and exhausting labor, it was only the knowledge of my innocence, my unbreakable belief in the greatness of God, and the most complete submission to His will which gave me the spiritual peace and calm that enabled me to remain a human to the end."

-- János Rózsás


Next arrow right.gif (850 bytes)
Back arrow left.gif (848 bytes)