The huge and still growing literature of personal recollections of the (mostly Soviet) Communist concentration camps has not been paralleled by scholarly explorations of the same topic and its social-scientific and moral dimensions. Likewise what Dariusz Tolczyk calls the “intellectual and spiritual aspect of the Soviet camp experience” remains largely unexamined and undigested by Western intellectuals, academic and other. This lack of interest is especially striking when compared to the attention (well deserved) Nazi camps have received from Western scholars. Many possible reasons for the discrepancy may be suggested, but probably the most important is the reluctance to even come close to the moral equation of Nazism and Communism that a systematic study of the Communist camps may lead to. To be sure, these camps--including the best known ones in the former Soviet Union—were not, by design, extermination camps. Mortality rates were high,...


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