Postcards from Gulag

Maska Skorba Mask of Sorrow

One of the most imposing memorials to the victims of the Soviet Union’s political repression and Gulag is not to be found in the big cities of Russia. Standing on a hill outside Magadan, away in the Russian Far East, the Mask of Sorrow, or Maska skorbi, mourns the dead in sublime loneliness. It has a good reason to be there. Between 1930s and 1960s hundreds of thousands of prisoners were transferred via the port of Magadan and hauled to the wilderness of Kolyma area to work in labour camps – and perish there. Few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, at 1996, this 15 meter statue was erected to commemorate them. It was designed by Ernst Neizvestny, whose own parents were also victims of the purges. Behind it opens the still untamed landscape of Kolyma.

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