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History 24N: Stalin's Terror: Causes, Crimes, Consequences (Spring 2023)

By: Anatol Shmelev & Simon Ertz

Getting Started...

Dear Students of History 24N:

Below, you can find a list of all items that were on display during your class visit to the Hoover Tower on April 24, 2023. Remember that you saw only a tiny selection of materials from relevant collections at the Hoover Library and the Hoover Archives. You can use this guide...

  • request any of the items you saw for use in the Reading Room;
  • an inspiration to search for other, similar sources in our collections (as well as at Stanford University Libraries!);
  • follow links to related guides and resources that can help you start exploring our collections;
  • refresh your knowledge of how to use OAC and SearchWorks, and how to visit our Reading Room;
  • get in touch with us if with questions about doing research and accessing sources!

Materials from Archival Collections

My Two Years Spent in Soviet Russia under Stalin Typescript - 1 manuscript box - Jan Adam Romer (a.k.a. John Adam Romer) was an electrical engineer and reservist in the Polish Army during World War II. He was arrested by the NKVD (Narodnyĭ komissariat vnutrennikh del) and sent to several forced labor camps in the Gulag. This collection is composed of the typescript "My two years spent in Soviet Russia under Stalin" by Jan A. Romer, a version of the typescript edited by his son, John H. Romer, and copies of Jan A. Romer's war records (April 1942 to January 1947) from the Great Britain Ministry of Defence and the Polish Squadron of the Royal Air Force.

Leonid Slutsky Collection --  1 manuscript box - Miscellany relating to forced labor camps in the Soviet Union (during the post-Stalin period). Includes photographs of a labor camp and a labor camp newspaper issue.

Russian Subject Collection --  89 manuscript boxes and other materials - Box 31, folders 6 through 16 contains various materials related to forced labor in the Soviet Union, especially in the Kolyma/Magadan region in the Far East.


Some other archival collections NOT shown during class visit:

Miron Dolot Papers - 22 MS boxes -- Ukrainian and English -- Correspondence, writings, notes, instructional materials, and printed matter relating to Ukrainian history and literature, the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933, and the Ukrainian émigré community.

Thomas Sgovio Papers - 2 MS boxes, 1 oversize box, 12 canvas paintings, digitized materials -- Russian and English -- Includes memoir relating to imprisonment in Soviet forced labor camps; photocopies of Soviet arrest records and summaries of judicial proceedings, and of United States Federal Bureau of Investigation reports on interviews after repatriation; as well as 44 original paintings and drawings depicting living and working conditions in Soviet forced labor camps.

Archives of the Soviet communist party and Soviet state microfilm collection: State Archives of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyĭ arkhiv Rossiĭskoĭ Federat͡sii - GARF) - 8034 Microfilm Reels -- Microfilm copies of voluminous records kept at the Russian State Archives in Mosow. Includes most of the Collection (fond) r-9414 of the Main Camp Administration (GULAG) with extensive quantitative and qualitative records on the operations of the Stalinist forced labor camps between 1930 and 1960. Also includes much of the documents from collection r-393 of the People's Commissariat of the Interior of the RSFSR, which managed most places of confinement (except for the GPU/OGPU's concentration camps) prior to the establishment of the People's Commissariat of the Interior of the USSR in 1934.

Nestor Apollonovich Lakoba Papers - 3 MS boxes, 1 oversize box - Papers of the Georgian revolutionary and Bolshevik, who was personally acquainted with Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Beriia, and others. Died in 1936, was labeled "enemy of the people" shortly thereafter. Collection includes photographs of Stalin and other leading Bolsheviks.

William R. Philp Collection - 8 MS boxes, 5 oversize boxes, other materials - English and German - The William Russell Philp collection consists of intelligence reports, interrogation reports, maps, and photographs relating to Adolf Hitler, the German military structure, national socialism, various aspects of German society during and immediately after World War II, various military campaigns of World War II (particularly preparation for the invasion of Normandy), denazification, and post-war reconstruction in Germany. Includes two photograph albums of Joachim von Ribbentrop's trip to Moscow in August 1939.

Leon Trotsky Collection, 1917-1995 - 47 MS boxes and other materials -- mainly Russian and English - Writings and correspondence of the Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky, including drafts of articles and books, correspondence with John G. Wright and other leaders of the Socialist Workers Party of the United States, and typed copies of correspondence with V. I. Lenin.

Hoover Library Materials


(grouped thematically and chronologically)

Mid-1920s: Major Political and Socioeconomic Issues Visualized: Iudovskii, V.G. Atlas diagramm po ėkonomicheskim i politicheskim voprosam dli͡a shkol politgramoty i samoobrazova nii͡a (1925) – illustrated album featuring diagrams depicting data on recent historical, economic and political issues for use in political literacy schools and for self-study.

Industrialization: Pi͡atiletniĭ plan narodno-khozi͡aĭstvennogo stroitelʹstva SSSR (1929) – the first Five-Year Plan in print (in Russian).

Industrialization - Propaganda - Stalin Cult: USSR in Construction (1930-1940, 1949) – Large-format illustrated monthly with large-scale photographs, many by noted Soviet photographers, each number devoted to one specific theme/project related to Soviet industrialization and economic development. Appeared in Russian, English, French, and German to reach domestic and foreign audiences. Under a separate SearchWorks entry, you can also order some issues in French. This Russian-language volume, available at Green Library, contains reproductions of a (small) part of the images from each issue. On display were the following issues:

No. 3, 1930: Electrification;

No. 9-10-11-12, 1937: Dedicated to the Stalin Constitution;

No. 2, 1938: Moscow Volga Canal [built by prisoners].


1930s Famine: Laubenheimer, Alfred. Die Sowjetunion am Abgrund! (1933) [The Soviet Union on the Precipice!] – report on famine in Soviet Union/Ukraine by German engineer and eyewitness, includes photographs with captions in German, English, French.


Stalin Cult/Military Propaganda: Voroshilov, Kliment Efremovich. Stalin i Krasnai͡a Armii͡a (1937) [Stalin and the Red Army] – illustrated folio volume, extolling Stalin’s role and leadership in the Russian Civil War. Official author: Kliment Voroshilov, People’s Commissar of Defense and Civil War veteran.


Terror/Fight Against “Enemies”: N.V. Krylenko. Ekonomicheskai͡a kontr-revoli͡ut͡sii͡a v Donbasse : itogi shakhtinskogo dela : staty i dokumenti (1928) [Economic Counterrevolution in the Donbas: The Results of the Shakhty Affair - Articles and Documents]– narrative of the 1928 “Shakhty” trial of engineers in the Donbass area, the first major trial of alleged “wreckers” (vrediteli), published by Soviet People's Commissariat of Justice. Official editor: state prosecutor Nikolai Krylenko. Includes excerpts of trial documents and some photographs.

Terror/Fight Against “Enemies”: Gleb Krzhizhanovskii. Vreditelʹstvo kak ono est’ (1930) -- English translation: Anti-Soviet Sabotage Exposed – Gleb Krzhizhanovskii, head of Soviet Planning Commission and "father of first Five-Year Plan," writes about “wreckers” in industry, their misdeeds, and what motivates them. Quotations from confessions woven into the narrative. 500,000 copies printed of Russian version.

Terror/Fight Against “Enemies”: The Wreckers Exposed in the Trial of the Counter-Revolutionary Industrial Party (1931) – English language report on the "Industrial Party" trial in 1930 against economists and scientists accused of having formed a conspiracy to derail the Soviet industrialization program, authored by British Communist journalist Walter Holmes.

Terror/Fight Against “Enemies”: V. Molotov. Uroki vreditelʹstva, diversii i shpionazha i͡apono-nemet͡sko-trot͡skistskikh agentov (1937) -- English translation: Lessons of the Wrecking, Diversionist and Espionage Activities of the Japanese-German-Trotskyite Agents – Molotov’s report to the Party’s Central Committee on the sabotage and terror in which the inveterate enemies of the Soviet Union engage. Quotations from testimonies and "confessions" are woven into master-narrative on the inevitable, predictable escalation of international class struggle. Russian brochure printed in one million copies (excerpts from this report were also published in Soviet newspapers and elsewhere)


Forced Labor (GULAG): Maksim Gorkii et al. Belomorsko-baltĭiskiĭ kanal imeni Stalina; istorii͡a stroitel'stva (1934) [The White Sea-Baltic Canal in the name of Stalin: the History of its Construction] – original edition of the (in)famous, collectively authored propaganda volume on the superiority of the Soviet system of “corrective labor” on the example of the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal. Multiple photographs. Also available: English-language edition with, however, partially changed and shortened text and far fewer photographs.


Forced Labor (GULAG) - Testimonies: The Gulag Handbook (1989) – by Jacques Rossi, a Polish communist and polyglot who was an inmate in the Stalinist camps from the late 1930s until the 1950s. Encyclopedia of terms from the world inside the Stalinist camps. The terms are in Russian, but the explanations in English. See also the Russian version from 1987.

Forced Labor (Gulag) - (Visual) Testimonies: Skol'ko Stoit Chelovek [English translation approx: What a Person/a Person's Life Is Worth] – Complete edition of the notebooks and memoirs of Evfrosiniia Kersnovskaia, who was an inmate in the Stalinist camps in arctic Noril'sk from the early 1940s until the early 1950s. Includes her numerous colored illustrations. Most (all?) of the pictures from her album, together with English synopses of the accompanying Russian texts, are accessible on this website (click on "Album Version" in the top menu).

Forced Labor (Gulag) - Visual Testimonies: The Gulag collection: paintings of the Soviet penal system by former prisoner Nikolai Getman – Reproductions of paintings of life inside the camps in the Kolyma region in the Far East, produced by a former prisoner. Text and commentary in English, foreword by Robert Conquest (author of The Great Terror).

Forced Labor (Gulag) - Visual Testimonies: Art of the Gulag: Images of the Gulag – Dutch brochure with reproductions of several paintings and drawings by former inmates of Soviet camps, some in color.

Forced Labor (Gulag) - Testimonies, Sources: Resistance in the Gulag: Memoirs, Letters, Documents (1992) – English translation of a collection of sources published by Semen Vilenskii, founder of the NGO "Vosvrashchenie" (Return). This was one of the numerous organizations and groups--the largest and most widely branched was/has been the society "Memorial"--established since the Perestroika years by former dissidents and political prisoners, survivors of repression and their relatives, and ordinary people with the mission to restore and make public the memory of the Stalinist terror, repressions, and camps in Russia and other post-Soviet countries .


Forced Labor (GULAG) - Foreign Perspectives: International Entente Against the Third International. Monthly Documentation. (1931). Special Issue February 1931: “Forced Labour in Soviet Russia” – based on information from various contemporary press reports and firsthand testimonies available at the time. Publication by international anticommunist organization based in Switzerland with chapters in many European countries.

Forced Labor (GULAG) - Foreign Perspectives: Greife, Hermann. Zwangsarbeit in der Sowjetunion (1936) [Forced Labor in the Soviet Union] – brochure on forced labor in Stalinist camps. Uses pictures from Gorkii et al., Belomorsko-baltiiskii... (cf. volume above), and embeds them in fiercely anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semitic narrative. Appeared in series of anti-Bolshevik publications published by “Institute on the Scholarly Research on the Soviet Union” in Berlin.

Forced Labor (GULAG) - Foreign Perspectives: "GULAG", Slavery, Inc [cartographic material] : the first comprehensive, self-authenticated docu-map of forced labor camps in Soviet Russia (1947) – An attempt to map the system of Stalinist camps on the basis of information available in the West by the conservative, anti-Communist US journal Plain Talk (appeared in the late 1940s).

Forced Labor (GULAG) - Foreign Perspectives: American Federation of Labor, Free Trade Union Committee. Slave Labor in the Soviet World (1951?) – includes historical overview, reproductions and partial translations of original documents smuggled out of Soviet Union, map showing the dislocation of camps, and references to contemporary literature and testimonies.


Cf. also: Forced Labor (GULAG) [EXTERNAL RESOURCE]: Interactive Online Map of Corrective Labor Camps during Stalinism, created by Russian Gulag Museum (Russian and English language options). Visualizes and maps data on the numbers and mortality of prisoners in “Corrective Labor Camps” from the archival collection r-9414 at the Russian State Archive (GARF), most of which is available on microfilm at the Hoover Archives. Circles are centered on the headquarters of camp complexes and therefore do not show how camp departments were often spread over large territories. Also, data on "Special Camps" (existed from 1947–1953) and “Corrective Labor Colonies” (camps that housed prisoners with terms of less than three years) is not included.

Posters on Display

The links lead you to low-resolution images of the posters that can be seen from anywhere. High-resolution reproductions of the digitized posters can be seen only at the workstations in our reading room. Also note the guide on "How to Search for Digital Posters" which is shown below under "Some Other Useful Guides."

Poster RU/SU 581: Drawing shows tractor in center of poster. Angels and representatives of the old regime flee this glorious sight in terror.

Poster RU/SU 657: Text: "Hit the enemy of the cultural revolution!"

Poster RU/SU 1840: Poster shows various enemies of Soviet power impaled on a red bayonet. Text: "We will meet the enemy in a simple [straightforward] manner: we have hit him in the past, we hit him in the present, we will hit him in the future!"

Poster RU/SU 1916: Text: "Religion is the enemy of industrialization."

Poster RU/SU 1072: enemies of the Five-Year Plan (1929) depicts those categories of citizens who were particularly hard-hit by the Terror: priests, former "capitalists" (i.e. rich and middle class), officers and political opponents (Mensheviks)

Poster RU/SU 1434: Poster consists of caricatures illustrating various types of sabotage and dishonesty on the part of "reformed kulaks" working in the kolkhozes.

Poster RU/SU 1933: Drawing of two men, one holding a bottle with poison, the other a bloody razor. Above them a red hand holds their old i.d.'s showing them to be ex-capitalists. In the background - factory chimneys. Text: "The malicious malingerer is the class enemy!"

Poster RU/SU 1810: Two drawings: on left a giant hand holding up a typewriter with various representatives of fascism and the West as keys; titles of bourgeois press and skyscraper in background; on right hand with a pen crossing through enemies of the Soviet state in red; titles of Soviet press on red banners.

Poster RU/SU 1850 depicts a counterrevolutionary "wrecker" being hit by lighting in the form of the acronym "GPU" (Soviet secret police). Dated 1930.

Poster RU/SU 2337: Figure carrying hammer and red flag chases "enemies of the people." Cover page of an issue of the journal The Atheist at the Lathe.

Some Other Useful Guides