The Gulag in East Germany Soviet Special Camps, 1945–1950 By Ulrich Merten


The Gulag in East Germany: Soviet Special Camps, 1945–1950 is the real story of what happened to thousands upon thousands of German victims of Stalinism who were incarcerated in special camps called Spezlager in the Soviet zone of occupation and abroad. The Spezlager were under the direct control of the Soviet central camp administration in the eastern occupation zone of Germany. The Red Army’s hold over most of Eastern Europe in 1944–1945 permitted Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the Soviet secret security services to project their political power beyond the USSR’s traditional borders to construct a socialist society that mirrored their own. In addition to building new camps, the Soviets used former Nazi concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen for the detainment of political prisoners where ultimately tens of thousands perished.

This book draws upon a vast trove of English- and German-language research to document, in precise and excruciating detail, the Soviet Union’s violation of human rights in it administration of these camps. The book is also remarkable in its careful examination of Western Allied internship camps; the practices, goals, and policies of American, French, and British camps are compared with astonishing insights.

Published close to the one hundredth anniversary of the tragic and violent 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, this book represents a critical contribution to the study of the Spezlager and indeed the postwar history of Germany.