08 November, 2009

Nikolai Getman and the Soviet Gulag

In 1945, Russian artist Nikolai Getman was arrested by the Soviet NKVD. His crime? Attending a meeting of artists, where one happened to doodle a small caricature of Stalin on a box of cigarettes. For this transgression, he was deemed an Enemy of the State, and sent into the Soviet Gulags... where he endured for eight long years. Almost as soon as he was released, he began producing paintings like this:

Waiting To Be Shot, by Nikolai Getman

Working in secret, he spent the next forty years attempting to chronicle the horrors he witnessed and endured, hoping to document one of the greatest unrecognized crimes against humanity of the 20th Century.  He ended up producing 50 such paintings, but it was not until 1993 did he show the world what it was he had produced.   Fearing that the works would be destroyed by those who, even today, still revere the Communist system, he had the complete collection moved to the west in 1995, where it currently resides with the Jamestown Foundation.

The full collection of works have now gone on display in Washington DC at the Heritage Foundation.  But on this day, with the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall upon us (and hence, the crumbling of the old Communist empire), it is perhaps appropriate to reflect on the genocidal evils that totalitarian socialism have inflicted on the world.  And the spirit of one man -- working alone and in secret, fearing for this life if caught but yet still pressing forward -- determined to shine a light on a dark corner that many, many do not want shined.

More information about Nikolai Getman can be found here:

Wikipedia entry
Painting the Gulag, by Hans A. von Spakovsky (NRO)
Remembering the Gulags' Victims, by Rebecca Hagelin (Heritage Foundation)
Inside the Gulag, by Deborah K. Dietsch (Washington Times)

1 comment:

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