The approach to the little village of Dolinka (50 km from Karaganda) was ominous, it was overcast and foggy. The asphalt roads could have been icy but thankfully they were not, just full of potholes and slush. Most impressive about the little museum with its information about the KarLAG was that it used to be the hospital for political repressed victims in Dolinka. A map prominently shown in the museum was the network of gulag systems in Kazakhstan is the size of France. Kazakhstan is FOUR times the size of France so you know how invasive this imprisonment was to the Kazakh land and their people who often pitied those outcasts who were dumped in Dolinka from all parts of the U.S.S.R.
Since I enjoy viewing artwork, I was struck by the HUGE canvas showing an image of Lenin at the table and Stalin pointing to a map of USSR electrification along with workers and soldiers. No one knows the name of the artist of this @ 20 foot long by 7 foot high painting. No doubt this artist of the karlag was trying to get back into the good graces of the elite in Moscow. However, I’m wondering if it is the same artist who painted in 1991 the samovar on the decked out dining table in the stalovaya of the guest house where I stayed one night in Karaganda. I wish I had written down the name of the artist, it was in the bottom left hand corner of the painting.
Much talent and skill during the USSR times were wasted but our guide to the museum took us over to another technical building where they tested for breeding of different grains, corn or potatoes. Famous agriculturalists were imprisoned but kept up their experiments in that building. Damira said that her family would buy the Dolinka brand potatoes because it was of good quality.
For now, I hate to think of all the poets, writers, artists and musicians (refer to the photos from yesterday’s blog) whose lives were destroyed over bad policy, bad governance that was meant to help people. It did quite the opposite. Stalin and Lenin’s system repressed millions of those they claimed as their own.