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Duquesne Professors Mine Information on Hungarians’ Gulag Experiences

Two Duquesne University professors have conducted interviews with Hungarian gulag survivors, combed handwritten and published memoirs, and researched scholarly literature to produce two books about experiences in the Soviet slave labor camp system, which overall, resulted in an estimated 25 million to 45 million deaths.

Dr. Steven B. Vardy, McAnulty Distinguished Professor of European History, and Dr. Agnes Huszar Vardy, adjunct professor of literature in the English department, recently authored Stalin’s Gulag: The Hungarian Experience, published by the Oriental University of Naples, Italy, and Hungarians in the Slave Labor Camps of the Gulag, published by Kairosz Publisher in Hungary. They are preparing another major book on this topic for Columbia University Press.

While the world is familiar with the Nazi-inspired Holocaust, which was intended to exterminate Jews, fewer are familiar with the state-sponsored institution of wholesale extermination, known as the gulag. Consisting of many thousands of slave labor camps, the gulag was used by Stalin for mass control. Death came only after prisoners’ labor was used to transform a primitive agricultural state into a great industrialized power,

“Only recently was this topic challenged by a few Hungarian and Western scholars, among them the U.S. scholars, Professors Steven B. Vardy and Agnes H. Vardy of Duquesne University,” wrote Dr. Amedo Di Francesco, professor and chair of the Department of East European Studies at Oriental University of Naples in the foreward to Stalin’s Gulag.

The few survivors had horrible recollections of cannibalism, torture and rape etched in their memories. The Vardys, who are of Hungarian descent, interviewed some survivors and uncovered nearly 100 hand-written memoirs and other interviews.

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