Arctic Scientist, Gulag Survivor: The Biography of Mikhail Mikhailovich Ermolaev, 1905-1991
University of Calgary Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 591 pages
One of the most prominent Soviet Arctic scientists of the 1920s and 1930s, Mikhail Mikhailovich Ermolaev was a geologist, physicist, and oceanographer. After working in the Arctic for some thirteen years, he was arrested by the NKVD, convicted on a trumped-up charge of "sabotage", and sent to the Gulag for ten years. After barely surviving a year of correctional hard labour in a lumber camp, Ermolaev was appointed to a sharashka, or professional team, which was charged with extending the railroad to the coal mines of Vorkuta in the farthest reaches of northeast Russia. Still later, he and his family were exiled to Syktyvkar and Arkhangel'sk. Remarkably, Ermolaev was eventually able to resume his academic career, ultimately establishing a new Department of the Geography of the Oceans at Kaliningrad State University. Translated from the original Russian and edited by William Barr, this biography is a fascinating personal account typical of the experiences of so many Soviet citizens who were unjustly banished to the infamous Gulag. Because Ermolaev was part of a specialist team, the conditions he and his family endured were better than most, with reasonably comfortable quarters and relatively adequate food. However, his story still clearly illustrates the brutality and inhumanity of the system. Ermolaev's son, Aleksei, was one of the authors of the original Russian-language biography published in 2005. His own recollections of childhood in the Gulag, along with an excellent selection of family photographs, infuse this book with a sense of immediacy and personal connection. Thanks to the expertise of William Barr, Ermolaev's story is now available in English for the first time.
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Childhood and youth
The Arctic saves Ermolaev
The Lyakhovskie Ostrova
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Academy of Sciences activities Administration Aleksei Arctic Institute Arkhangelsk Arkticheskogo instituta arrest Barents Bataysk bauxite became began board Sadko Bukhta camp coal colleagues Department deposits Dibner drift Elena Mikhailovna expedition on board friends Geographical Society geological geologist glacier Glavsevmorput Guba head Hence High-Latitude Expedition icebreaker investigations island Kaliningrad Kanevsky Kara Sea Knyazh-Pogost Krasin Laptev Sea later layer Leningrad Leningrad University Leonila Vasilevna letter lived located Lyakhovskie Ostrova M.M. Ermolaev mammoth Maria Emmanuilovna Mikhail Mikhailovich Misha Moscow Nikolaevich NKVD North North Island Northern Sea Route Novaya Zemlya Novosibirskie Ostrova O.Yu oblast ocean organized Ostrov party pegmatites Photo Pinegin Poluostrov polyarniki prison R.L. Samoilovich recalled returned rocks Rusanov Russian Russkaya Gavan Samoilovich scientific sea-bed sediments Sedov Severnaya Severnaya Zemlya ships Shmidt Shumsky Soviet Syktyvkar Tiesenhausen Tiksi tion tonnes turned University Urals Urvantsev USSR Vollosovich Vorkuta wife winter wrote Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa