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My Childhood In The Gulag – A Horrible Memory Of Stalin’s Prison Camps

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The Gulag was the government agency in charge of the Soviet forced labor camp system that was created under Vladimir Lenin and reached its peak during Joseph Stalin’s rule from the 1930s to the 1950s, reports Wikipedia. Exiles were sent to remote areas of the Soviet Union: Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and the Russian Far East.

There are few who are still alive from the exiles. Mirian Gurashvili, 79, a survivor of the Soviet terror recounts a horrific story of his childhood.
It is very hard to even remember, says Mirian Gurashvili, who was exiled in Siberia in 1942 with his mother and two minor sisters at the age of three. His father, who was honored with Lenin’s order, was shot for treason.

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The victim of Stalin’s repression remembers that on their way to Siberia, his five year old sister’s heart failed from fear. Mirian Gurashvili spoke about how his mother was hiding the body for three days until someone on the ship snitched about it, after which, the captain threw the body in the Caspian Sea, without even letting the family members say a word.

After the first tragedy, the family of a single mother and two minor kids had to survive a terrific five years in Siberia. Mirian Gurashvili during the expatriation was three years old; he lost all his toes because of the unbearable Siberian cold.

The Georgian man reminisced that during a single day, for the exiles, the Soviets would give watery soup and 3.5 ounces of bread. To survive, they themselves obtained potatoes from the frozen land.

As he recalls, because of the harsh Siberian weather, many families from Georgia didn’t survive during the expatriation. Some of them died on the ships and in the trains before even reaching the camps.

After returning home, apart from close relatives, everybody oppressed and rejected his family. Nothing was left from his home, not even a trace of a house. As he says, everything was taken by the collective. “They told us, now live however you want” says Mirian.

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“All the children and teachers were aggressive towards us. They were oppressing and mistreating us just because our family was exiled by the Soviet government. I was an excellent student in class, but I could not continue my studying after the school, because no one accepted me since my family was expatriated.” Recalls Mirian Gurashvili. They couldn’t even respond or say anything back, since they were afraid of being exiled again.

Mirian Gurashvili worked for four years in Soviet Naval Aviation, though his rejection continued after he came back from the military. As he recalls, no one gave him a job. They told him they didn’t want a former prisoner, though he was three when exiled.

After the repressions, he is now living in Bodbe, with his wife, three children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild. He is engaged in agricultural activities. The court acknowledged his family was a victim of political repressions and gave him 1250 Lari as compensation ($510.7).

According to different sources, during the Stalin era, more than 5 million people were exiled for different reasons, and part of them were executed. As IDFI states, just in 1937-38, there were 14,679 people exiled, and 14,372 executed, out of which 3443 people were shot upon Stalin’s order and his signature, and 179 were exiled, reported netgazeti.ge (Giorgi Diasamidze).

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