How did the Gulag affect relationships between the government and the people?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Gulag—which is a Russian acronym that stands for Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps—was a major part of the Soviet Union from around 1918 until the mid-1950s. 

The Gulag had a major impact on the relationship between the government and the people simply because of the sheer volume of people who were forced into one of the labor camps. Estimates show that between 40-50 million people were sentenced to long stretches of manual labor in the Gulag. It is believed that between 15 and 30 million people died while in the Gulag.

Soviet citizens feared their government and its leaders during this period of time because there often seemed to be little rhyme or reason why so many were sent to one of the Gulag labor camps—particularly during the reign of Josef Stalin. Stalin's paranoia and his desire to be the absolute power in the country led to many innocent people being sentenced and often killed in the Gulag.

Because the threat of the Gulag was such a pervasive part of life for citizens of the Soviet Union, citizen rebellion or other uprisings were often quelled before they ever began.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team