[LITERATURE BY FOSTER STUDENTS] Zhizn’ nachinaetsia. Sbornik stikhov, rasskazov i ocherkov, napisannykh podrostkami-vospitannikammi trudovykh koloniy UNKVD LO [i.e. The Life Begins. The Collection of Verse, Short Stories and Essays Written by the Foster Students of the Labour Colonies of NKVD in Leningrad Region]
[LITERATURE BY FOSTER STUDENTS] Zhizn’ nachinaetsia. Sbornik stikhov, rasskazov i ocherkov, napisannykh podrostkami-vospitannikammi trudovykh koloniy UNKVD LO [i.e. The Life Begins. The Collection of Verse, Short Stories and Essays Written by the Foster Students of the Labour Colonies of NKVD in Leningrad Region]
[LITERATURE BY FOSTER STUDENTS] Zhizn’ nachinaetsia. Sbornik stikhov, rasskazov i ocherkov, napisannykh podrostkami-vospitannikammi trudovykh koloniy UNKVD LO [i.e. The Life Begins. The Collection of Verse, Short Stories and Essays Written by the Foster Students of the Labour Colonies of NKVD in Leningrad Region]

[LITERATURE BY FOSTER STUDENTS] Zhizn’ nachinaetsia. Sbornik stikhov, rasskazov i ocherkov, napisannykh podrostkami-vospitannikammi trudovykh koloniy UNKVD LO [i.e. The Life Begins. The Collection of Verse, Short Stories and Essays Written by the Foster Students of the Labour Colonies of NKVD in Leningrad Region]

Leningrad: Otdel trudkoloniy UNKVD LO, 1936. Item #998

104 pp., 1 front. (Portrait of Dzerzhinsky) 17,5x13,5 cm. One of 3000 copies. Original cloth binding with the low-relief image on the front cover. Slightly soiled, otherwise a very good copy. Inscribed on the verso of the first endpaper by one of the authors Dmitry Sokolov to comrade Ivolgin dated 26th of January, 1937.

Extremely rare. The collection of fiction created by 14 teenagers,who have stayed at three different labour camps of NKVD of Leningrad Region in the 1930s.

As a result of the WWI and the Civil War that has followed, in the 1920s in USSR the number of homeless children was unprecedented. The problem was so significant that it was under the personal control of Lenin and Feliks Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926). In the early-mid 1920s somewhere between 4 and 6 million children were homeless. As a result a special operation has been conducted by NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, future KGB), police and the army. The task to get minors off the streets by any means was undertaken like a military operation, and that’s why the big percentage of them have ended up in labour camps by the 1930s, alongside with the juvenile criminals.

The ideological leader of NKVD Dzerzhinsky (to whom several parts in this book are dedicated) famously viewed labour camps as the only institutions for the reclamation. In reality those camps led to the establishment of the GULAG system and the use of prison labour for the sake of fulfilling the unrealistic industrialisation goals. It’s unclear what conditions the authors of this collection had to experience but from one of the poems we learn that 17-year old Nikolay Morschikov participated in Belomorstroy (the construction of The White Sea–Baltic Canal). From another poem we learn about his homeless past and that he expected to become an engineer.

Despite the obvious propaganda-lured topics, poems dedicated to Stalin and to Dzerzhinsky, some pieces are more lyrical and dedicated to the usual kids’ activities, pets or games. No doubt the book was heavily censored and was not intended for the distribution outside of the camps. Some short stories were co-written. Photos of all the authors precede their writings.

An important document of the era which gives the insight into what was happening behind the fences of labour camps.

Not in the Worldcat.

Status: On Hold