Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week #1 - Risk Taking Researcher (Ji Won Jung)

Joseph Stalin

The author of One Day, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, helped spread awareness of the Gulag and the Soviet Union's labor camps. After university, he joined the Soviet armed forces and became a captain of artillery in World War II. In February 1945, his military career ended and he was arrested for sending private messages to his friend Nikolai Vitkevich criticising the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. He was taken to a prison in Moscow, then was sentenced for an eight year term in a labour camp. After serving in several work camps, he was sent to a camp for political prisoners in the town of Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan.  This is an example of the Gulag. It was a government agency that controlled the Soviet forced labor camps that was created on April 25, 1930 and ended on January 13, 1960. About 14 million people were in the Gulag from 1929 to 1953. The camps held from about half a million people to almost two million people. A total of just over a million people died in the Gulag. These Gulags were a great support to World War II. For Russia, it had provided many of the ores and metallic materials for the war. It was used to create rail roads and etc. I believe that his experiences in Ekibastuz shaped the foundation for the book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. His suffering and pain formed the theme and idea of this book. If he hadn't been to the camps and didn't experience the terror, he wouldn't have made a book this successful. If he hadn't went through the shivering cold and the hunger, he wouldn't have been able to describe the nightmare.

Heavy Labour in the Gulag Link

In 1956, Alexander was freed from exile after the 1953 death of Stalin. In 1962, One Day was published. The book was a hit at the time. The book drew attention from the West as well. Alexander Solzhenitsyn is considered as one of the greatest heroes from Russia. I believe that the purpose of this book was to raise awareness of the Gulag and the forced labor camps. Alexander's motives were successful as awareness grew more than he had expected.

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 24 Aug. 2014. <>.

"Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 23 Aug. 2014. <>.

"Gulag." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 23 Aug. 2014. <>.


  1. In this book especially, the historical context and background information is extremely important in order to truly grasp it's true meaning, that is why I believe that your job was crucial for this beginning part. I believe that your choice in researching about his life is great, for it gives us a better view of the character's life and the place where he lives. The author's story relates directly to some main themes in the book and helps explain why this book was significant. We learn in the introduction that it was banned in Russia, and that the author was actually exiled as well. Explaining the Gulag is really important to understand why and who was sent to these labor camps. I would like it if you could have added a bit more information on the censorship in that era and the Soviet regime. What could be published and what couldn't? Also, I understand a bit on who was sent to these camps after reading your post, which I think is crucial to understand the characters in the book. However, I would want to know what was considered a political crime at the time, what did they do to deserve these consequences? I know that it was a pro World War II regime, but what exactly does that mean? Who were they supporting?
    Overall, I think you had one of the most important jobs this week and you did a good job at clearing some focal points in the novel.

  2. Ji Won, I feel satisfied that instead of having to look around on Google and verify sources, that I could find the answer to one of the questions I had inside this blog post. Before, I had no idea what the purpose of Gulag camps was. I knew it was forced labor, and that the prisoner's work helped towards a goal, but I just didn't know what. It could have just been to keep prisoner's busy and work for their food, however it ended up being that they were used to support wars. Still, though, I don't understand the difference between politician camps and normal camps, and why they are seperated. Maybe you could answer this question in your next blog post? Anyways, great work, and I enjoyed unraveling my questions while reading this information.