Cover image for Surviving freedom : after the Gulag
Surviving freedom : after the Gulag
Bardach, Janusz.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 251 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Reading Level:
1050 Lexile.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS135.R9 B275 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In 1941, as a Red Army soldier fighting the Nazis on the Belarussian front, Janusz Bardach was arrested, court-martialed, and sentenced to ten years of hard labor. Twenty-two years old, he had committed no crime. He was one of millions swept up in the reign of terror that Stalin perpetrated on his own people. In the critically acclaimed Man Is Wolf to Man, Bardach recounted his horrific experiences in the Kolyma labor camps in northeastern Siberia, the deadliest camps in Stalin's gulag system.

In this sequel Bardach picks up the narrative in March 1946, when he was released. He traces his thousand-mile journey from the northeastern Siberian gold mines to Moscow in the period after the war, when the country was still in turmoil. He chronicles his reunion with his brother, a high-ranking diplomat in the Polish embassy in Moscow; his experiences as a medical student in the Stalinist Soviet Union; and his trip back to his hometown, where he confronts the shattering realization of the toll the war has taken, including the deaths of his wife, parents, and sister.

In a trenchant exploration of loss, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and existential loneliness, Bardach plumbs his ordeal with honesty and compassion, affording a literary window into the soul of a Stalinist gulag survivor. Surviving Freedom is his moving account of how he rebuilt his life after tremendous hardship and personal loss. It is also a unique portrait of postwar Stalinist Moscow as seen through the eyes of a person who is both an insider and outsider. Bardach's journey from prisoner back to citizen and from labor camp to freedom is an inspiring tale of the universal human story of suffering and recovery.

Author Notes

Until his recent death, Janusz Bardach was Professor Emeritus of Plastic Surgery at the University of Iowa. Kathleen Gleeson is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program. Together they wrote Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag (California, 1998).

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Bardach (who recently died) and Gleeson are the authors of Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag (1998). In this sequel, Bardach picks up his story in March 1946, when he was released from the Kolyma labor camps in Siberia. In 1941, as a Soviet Army soldier, Bardach had been arrested by the KGB, court-martialed, and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor, one of millions seized in Stalin's reign of terror. Here Bardach, a Polish Jew, recounts his 1,000-mile journey to Moscow; his reunion with his brother, a diplomat in the Polish embassy there; and the trip to his hometown in Poland, desolate and filled with debris and rubble, but empty of Jews. He then studies at a medical institute in Moscow, experiences a new wave of rabid anti-Semitism, and returns to Poland in 1954. In 1972, he came to the U.S. Bardach's story is one of loneliness and loss as he struggles to create a new life. --George Cohen