Thousands of Finnish prisoners served time in the Soviet penal system known as the Gulag. Most of them were Ingrian Finns, others had left Finland in hope of a better life, and the rest were victims of circumstances. When they were released, many turned to writing.
In this study, the Finnish Gulag memoirs are considered as testimonies on Soviet communism. More than thirty memoirs have been published from the early 1920s to the late 1990s. Thus, the entire Soviet era can be taken into consideration.
So, what do their memoirs tell us about Soviet society? Does one gain added insight into the Russian soul and Homo sovieticus from an inmate's standpoint? Furthermore, was terror the only means for the regime to stay in power?
Finally, some testimonies hold that forced labour in the Gulag camps was meant to provide corpses only. By what means can one survive the ordeal?
Erkki Vettenniemi has studied at the University of Tampere and at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London. He has written a biography of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and published in the fields of Russian studies, African and sports studies.