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The Gulag After StalinRedefining Punishment in Khrushchev's Soviet Union, 1953-1964$
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Jeffrey S. Hardy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702792

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702792.001.0001

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Restructuring the Penal Empire

Restructuring the Penal Empire

Administration, Institutions, and Demographics

(p.19) 1 Restructuring the Penal Empire
The Gulag After Stalin

Jeffrey S. Hardy

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the impact of Stalin's death on 5 March 1953 on the Gulag. Stalin's passing, the ensuing power struggle, and the existing reformist tendencies within the Gulag all contributed to the substantive reforms that would quickly and permanently alter the Soviet penal system. By 1960 the Gulag empire would be drastically reduced in size and economic importance. Its organizational structure would be decentralized to a significant degree. Reeducation as opposed to labor extraction would be proclaimed the top priority of the Gulag. Ultimately, the reforms of 1953–60 were just as monumental in terms of transforming the Soviet penal system as those of 1930–37. In many respects, in fact, they worked to roll back the reforms of the 1930s, which in general had made the penal system larger, more economically focused, and deadlier.

Keywords:   Gulag, Soviet penal system, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, penal reform

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