Surviving the Gulag

“The terrified yell of my comrades makes me stop. I drop the potatoes into the grass and turn around. He has pulled out the pistol and is taking aim. Slowly I come back.”

Surviving the Gulag is the first-person account of a resourceful woman who survived five grueling years in Russian prison camps: starved, traumatized, and worked nearly to death. A story like Ilse Johansen’s is rarely told—of a woman caught in the web of fascism and communism at the end of the Second World War and beginning of the Cold War. The candid story of her time as a prisoner, written soon after her release, provides startling insight into the ordeal of a German female prisoner under Soviet rule. Readers of memoir and history, and students of feminism and war studies, will learn more about women’s experience of the Soviet gulag through the eyes of Ilse Johansen.