Simon Sebag Montefiore

Hell Frozen Over

Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir

By

Oxford University Press 272pp £17 order from our bookshop

In 1940, a 22-year-old Soviet engineer named Fyodor Mochulsky finished his studies and was offered a job by the NKVD, Stalin’s secret police, in the Gulag labour-camp system. He was a candidate member of the Communist Party and typical of the so-called Stalin Generation, born after 1917 and reared on Soviet propaganda. Educated, intelligent and extremely able as an engineer and manager, he was also typical in his belief that, however young he was, he was capable of taking on colossal responsibilities. Whatever his hopes for the future, a young man like this would not turn down such an offer from the Party. After all, it was just after the Great Terror, and Europe was already at war: even if a career in the Gulag was not ideal, the consequences of saying no to the Party could be fatal.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,