72 The Breath of Death

The Breath of Death

Posted on April 26, 2011 by team

These drawings depict the life of the Soviet Gulag prisoners. Very cruel and gloomy…

I’m… an English, French, American, Japanese, Italian, German and maybe some other spy as well…

The Gulag had its own “thieves by law” who were in a privileged position like modern bureaucrats.

Criminals were in a much better position than “enemies of the people”. Authoritative, repeatedly convicted “thieves by law” usually didn’t work. Petty thieves were their minions. Bytoviki (prisoners serving time for domestic crimes) gave them a part of their wages. Criminals helped to destroy the “enemies of the people” in labor camps of the Gulag…

The prisoner who lost his life in a card game is carried out to the cold…

- Sprinkle him with holy water to make his life in the other world better. And I’ll cover him with snow so that the prison guards wouldn’t find him soon…

Cut the skull of an “enemy of the people” for his refusal to give a part of his wages to the criminals.

An execution of the sentence made by the “court of thieves” in a labor camp…

In Stalin’s camps of the Gulag criminals committed murders of other prisoners, with the connivance of its administration. They used electricity, knives, gallows, beheaded them, pushed a crowbar that had been heated in the fire into their anus, etc. Many criminals had 10 and even more “rams” each (“ram” is a murdered prisoner).

“Sanitary shooting” was periodically carried out by the workers of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in the years of Stalinism.

Its aim was to prevent non-Russian people from getting a national sense of justice. Party, Soviet, economic and artistic workers were shot at the command. There were even orders for the number of “heads”. Like a hunting license permitting to shoot certain kinds of animals: elks, saigas, wild boars, wild rams, bears and so on.

Subscribe to our Facebook, Twitter to stay updated for the new posts. Also we have many more stories to explore below:


More stories:

Click here to read next random post from English Russia

72 Responses to “The Breath of Death”

  1. Musa says:

    What exactly is that in that dead man’s mouth (4th picture from the bottom)?

    Thank you for the very enlightening drawings.

    • D says:

      sock i’d guess?
      Oh and he’s not dead yet.
      I’d imagine the plan is to bury him alive in the snow so that he’d freeze to death.

      • Musa says:

        I think they are too far from nice to put a sock in his mouth. But you are probably right about him still being alive and burying him in the snow. Thanks.

    • Musa says:

      I just watched the movie, “Experiment” the other night. I thought it was a great movie but this drawing reminds me of this one scene in there which is pretty damn disgusting… actually a lot of scenes in that movie are pretty damn disgusting.

  2. Eizo says:

    they are worse than talibans

    • Connor says:

      You’re right the Taliban have strict rules to follow with the treatment of prisoners. i.e. food, clothing, and shelter. This is just brutal.

      • neblogenso says:

        You don’t know much about taliban, do you? In Soviet-Afgan war, so called mujahedeen, now taliban, cought one russian, cut his guts, filled with a bucket of apples and told him to get back to his squad. Usually prisoners were put in the holes to starve, were humiliated or just had their throats cut. Although I know one man who was released from the “hole”, and came back home.

  3. Sarah Palinsky says:

    I love Club Med. I went on a Carnival Cruise once that was a lot like this. I can see Russia from my house!

  4. Werner says:

    Vga jhkrad pildid… Paraku nii see oli.

  5. Steamed McQueen says:

    And yet we never learned any of this in American schools. Not a word about Stalin and the GULAG. Plenty about Hitler though.

    Hitler was a bad guy to be sure, but at least he didn’t turn on his own damn people!

    • SSSR says:

      yes he did-hitler had jewish blood!and he was not even german!!

      • SSSR says:

        you do some research!hitler had the town he was born in destroyed so no one would know about it!!

        • OldBikr says:

          Adolf’s real name was Shikelgruber! He was born out of wed-lock to Alois Hitler, and later had name changed to match father after father married mom.

          He was the son of a minor postal official (Alois) from Austria Alois liked to beat his son (Adolf) and his wife on a regular basis.

          I too have heard Adolf had some Jewish ancestors. In addition to having Jewish ancestry he also depended on the charity of some Jewish families while he was attempting to get into art school. Some theorize that this charity on the part of the Jews towards young Adolf led to him developing such a enmity towards the Jewish people later in life. (see book “The Mind of Adolf Hitler”)

          Oddly enough, Adolf was a brave and efficient soldier, he was one of only a handful of enlisted men in the Wehrmacht to get the sort of awards that he did. (He was sort of a German equivalent to Sgt. York.)

          Adolf was a strange mixture of the best and the worst that human kind could be. He was no doubt very schizophrenic.

          • Stuart says:

            Handful? 218,000 Iron Crosses 1st Class were issued in WW1. There are plenty of brave and efficent soldiers – as with terrorists bravery in itself is morally neutral

        • Tom says:

          That is not true. The town is still there to this day. I’ve been there in person.

      • Stuart says:

        Ah yes – the old ‘The Holocaust was actually a Jewish plot to make Germans look bad’

    • marxistworker says:

      My school taught about it. But as usual, it was the lie that Communism was evil because of the Gulag system. The archives that have been opened since 1991 prove the Gulag system was 100 per cent Stalinist. There was no Gulag system before or after Stalin.

      • Stuart says:

        Actually the system was not shut down until well after 1953 so thats simply incorrect – and the SLON camps were set up by the Cheka before Stalin came to power

    • mediatorguy says:

      Stalin killed more of his own people than Hitler did but Hitler fostered an atmosphere in which many Aryan Germans also suffered, were executed or sent to the camps. When you consider the course that Hitler designed for the future of Germany, he sold out the German people for the sake of his own narcissistic goals. For an example, read “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

  6. Archibald Bunkum says:

    I had a relative who died in one of these camps…how did he die? he fell out of the guard tower.

    • r2k-in-the-vortex says:

      great grandfather of mine really did die in one of those camps. he was prisoned there for a crime of owning a carpetry workshop(and having wage workers there). the workshop was soon burned down by drunkards who labeled themselves communists. great-grandmother and grandmother, who was just a child back then along with their sister(also just a child at the time) were put on train(animal carriages were standard) and to siberia they went, just for being family of a (small)company owner. 40000 estonians were sent to siberia like that after soviets occupied(population of the entire country was less than 1 miljon back then). many people died on their way there and many more during the years in siberia. mostly of malnutrition and diseases. my grandmother managed to come back to tell the tale years later when she was grownup already.

      but history doesnt speak of it, it was hitler who was the bad guy not stalin(according to history books). victorious are always righteous. and history is not what happened but what was written down

      • zip says:

        Yes, it’s also a shame that Estonian history lessons tend to skip past their citizens rather hands-on participacion in the murder of 10,000+ Jews.

  7. testicules says:

    Behold the true glory of communism and the Soviet Empire



  9. K,I,R,O,V,C,L,A,S,S,I,S,B,A,C,K,! says:

    too bad there is no proof what-so-ever to this exaggerated hogwash. Testicules: please don’t open your mouth. You are a re.tar.d. Also GU.LAG was stal.in’s doing

  10. Sergey Kozlov says:

    The whole thing is a big lie and depicts Soviet history in a wrong way. Shame on English Яussia.

    • Otis R. Needleman says:

      Can’t handle the truth? Plenty of literature out there showing you’re wrong. Start with the GULAG Archipelago..

      • K,I,R,O,V,C,L,A,S,S,I,S,B,A,C,K,! says:


        Listen, the archipelago is just a novel. It doesn’t speak statistics. The direct dea.th-rate in GU.LAG was at roughly 3-4%. How many di.ed as an effect of the GU.lAG later in their lives is unkown.

        That means only 1 mil.lion people di.ed there, out of the 20+ mil.lion who passed thru the GU.lAG sys.tem.


      • K,I,R,O,V,C,L,A,S,S,I,S,B,A,C,K,! says:

        The archip.elago is just a novel. It doesn’t speak statistics. The direct dea.th-rate in GU.LAG was at roughly 3%-4%. How many di.ed as an effect of the GU.lAG later in their lives is unkown. the d.eat.h rate in the na.z.i camps were around 50%-60%

        • Otis R. Needleman says:

          A novel? Have you even read the books? Get a clue.

        • Stuart says:

          ah only 1 million directly died – so thats OK then and makes any claims re the brutality of the system hogwash? How many people died during the 1930s purges

  11. xoxo says:

    really sad

  12. Leningradsky says:

    An old fake pix made during Gorby’s cathostroika.

  13. prince says:

    Well, I saw a movie recently in which they show the Gulag and almost same story as these drawings are portrait, the prisoners among them thieves are well fed and kept and they usually kills the enemy of people.
    There was one dialog which describe the Russia.
    He said “The Entire Russia is a Gulag in itself” I guess that’s really true.

  14. Para bellum says:

    I am surprised especially the logic of Western friends. When you tell that in the Soviet Union pretty well lived featuring photos, facts, personal experience you say: “It’s all propaganda, you are the victim of brainwashing, ” but when you should show it is not clear where and by whom the printed book with primitive drawings of you making a smart kind of claim that all it was.

  15. CZenda says:

    Mixing criminals and political prisoners is common practice in any totalitarian state, maybe it is the easiest way to break the spirit of those who have no previous experience with jails. I remember a Czech political prisoner telling a story about his first night in a jail – he was sharing the cell with a triple murderer.

    Is Gulag denial considered normal in today´s Russia?

  16. George Johnson says:

    Amazing how easy it is to get regular people to do your dirty work. Then you kill those people.

    Amazing how governments work. Hitler did this sort of thing too. Turn people against people.

    Just amazing.

  17. Smiling Jack says:

    A little more work by this author:


    This dude is actively exploit “criminal” theme.

    The Gulag, the KGB and Russian mafia is a very popular topics in the West, so not surprising that his works published in the West. There has long formed his own mythology and these works of art are a good illustration to myth. More precisely, “myth” – it is wrong the word, “there is no smoke without fire”.. For example, prison violence has been and is. In the West, probably, too. I love “Women in prison” the films :-)


  18. Cheburator says:

    These pictures are big crock of BS. The authour, Danzig Baldaev, although worked as a prison guard, was born in 1925 and was still a kid during the Stalin’s repressions. He was not an eye-witness to these events. These drawings were made in the 80s during the’perestroyka’ and reflect the popular at that time myth about ‘horrors of Stalin’s regime.’

    “Sanitary shooting was periodically carried out by the workers of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs in the years of Stalinism.”
    – There have to be documents confirming this allegation. Even if “Putin is hiding the truth”, there must be some “orders from the centre” stored in local KGB archives that passed to the independent nations. Twenty years since Soviet collapse no such documents have been found.

    P.S. I am not trying to be a GULAD denialist or Stalin apologist, just questioning the quality of these “eye witness accounts”.

    • Stuart says:

      There’s plenty of evidence in the OGPU returns to Moscow during the Purge years of the scale of shootings incl in the camp system

  19. Otis R. Needleman says:

    One BIG difference between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR…the average German, if not Jewish or a Communist, was pretty safe from being bundled off to a concentration camp. Not so in ths USSR.

    • D says:

      or a member of a Trade union or a member of any political party other then the Fascist party or go to a church that Hitler didn’t like… so basically it was about the same

      • Otis R. Needleman says:

        Not really. Hitler never conducted man-made famines and shunted better-off farmers to exile and concentration camps. Hitler never conducted massive purges, killing millions and filling concentration camps. Hitler never gave the Gestapo quotas of citizens to just arrest and kill/imprison. Hitler was a monster, but Stalin was worse.

        • Stuart says:

          thats like saying one murderer is better than another. if you want to turn it round the other way, the Nazis in a few years probably killed far more people than Stalin did – but as said its not a competition to be less bad and such arguments get used by apologists for both regimes

  20. marxistworker says:

    The Gulag system was in place from 1931-1954, Stalin’s era. To equate the Gulag system with Communism (it was a Stalinist invention) you also have to say the United States is STILL an evil country because it allowed and encouraged slavery from 1787-1865; you have to say Christianity is STILL an evil belief because it promoted and encouraged the Crusades; etc., etc. The Gulag system was not a Communist instrument, device, act, or a part of the philosophy.

    • Stuart says:

      Camps existed under the Cheka pre-Stalin and after his death under the KGB. and if you don’t know the difference between something that happened 200 years ago and something where people are still alive and can remember it (and where some people here would claim its all lies anyway or exaggerated)then you are being obtuse..

  21. Smiling Jack says:

    I would like to clarify, I am against political repression, and I believe that in the Gulag was actually killed many people. Bloody Georgians and his gang have shed a sea of blood.

    History need to remember. But far more important is the current situation in Russia. Thank God, now the state is not shooting for “political crimes” (and the death penalty in the Russia is no), but some pressure on the “dissidents” is there. Basically, by the way, not against the pro-Western “liberal opposition”, and against “Russian nationalists” (their European counterparts now triumphed in many countries, but people in Russia for such views are put in prison for “inciting ethnic hatred”).

    In the West, often erroneously called the Kremlin regime “nationalist”, but it’s a very big mistake! It is no secret that the authorities in Russia, many former communists or people who get along well with the previous regime, and the communists – they are “internationalists” (!!!) and the current government holds the same view in the “national question”. Moreover, “the Russian elite” has largely consists not of ethnic Russian, and representatives of other nations or people of mixed blood, just like in the 30 years of the last century that began the mass terror against the population.

    In many countries, “the majority” determines how they live, this is “democracy”, but in Russia it is not, for non-Russian elites of “the Russian majority” – is only a “consumable material”, “cement” through which they build theirs the Multinational Empire.

    Comes to the absurd, the rights of “minorities” in Russia can defend, but if someone decides to defend the rights of Russian, then in he immediately put the stamp of the “nationalist” and a high risk of going to jail (even no for some actions, but only for the words, for his own opinion). This is a very unhealthy situation.

    And contrary to the opinions of Western journalists, “internationalists” in the Kremlin are not afraid of “Western threat” and many are even willing to live there (somewhere in London or in Miami), the more likely they are afraid of the “internal enemy”, is essentially its own population, the Russian majority.

    Look what now we have number the soldiers defending the country against external threats as well as number “internal troops” … It says a lot.

    Remember also how our government nervously reacted to recent events at the Manege Square. A few days ago some protesters condemned. Cops which provoked the indignation of the people (who decided let go Caucasian murderers), not even fired!

    However, meaningless to talk about it because nothing will change.

    Even at the eternally persecuted Jews now have their own state, but we do not have and probably will never happen :-(

    And even fantasize about this topic is prohibited, as “state falls apart” (this is constantly tell even the president and prime minister) .. An absurd argument! As if the Russian-people dream of living next to the bloodthirsty savages Caucasian and spend big money on them. In any case, it is meaningless. For money can not buy love. Why for nothing wasting money?

    Territories by themselves are not important … Better to live in a small, prosperous, European Russia than in the vast and impoverished “Federation”. The state must provide for the welfare of the people, not vice versa. Otherwise, why should such a state?

    In short, I personally for a free, democratic, European Russia…

    A very pity that this is a utopia.

  22. opticalsound says:

    “Drawings From the Gulag”: “Put it on your Mother’s Day Gift List!!”

  23. SSSR says:

    moscow is what it is today because of the gulag.unfortunatly the price for moscows upgrade was thousands of russian lives lost.every country has its good leaders and bad leaders.

  24. De Beaumarchais says:

    Very interesting.

  25. 8-P says:

    Yeah right I can blame communism for gulags, after all it is the innate property of any socialist system to look for “enemies of the state”. When Spanish socialists failed, they blamed and killed the republicans. Hitler had his Jews ready to take any blame for mistakes and drawbacks of his national socialism. And Russian Communism? Of course it had to have its enemies of the state. After all Communism is just extreme socialism and so it requires some form of concentration camps by default.

    Marx just kept quiet about it, but that doesnt mean gulag was purely Stalins idea…

  26. Para bellum says:

    How do you know what thoughts were with Stalin for some issues. Most of you then your name to write errors

  27. Trackball says:

    Tore out all his books 7 most fried pictures. This is ridiculous.

    Danzig Boldaev is a renowned expert on criminals tattoos.

  28. Niall O'Doherty says:

    Absolutley savagery. Why do Russians have nostalgia for their criminals? They are nothing but scum.

  29. Partizan says:

    Total scum

  30. Helvetica says:

    Propagation of Islamic extremists. The author of drawings Baldaev – the Chechen.

    • burak says:

      being a muslim was enough reason for having an oneway ticket to gulags….thousands gathered from the mosques during their friday pray…..this is not a propaganda

    • burak says:

      being a muslim was enough reason for having an oneway ticket to gulags….stalins` socia-engineers gathered thousands from the mosques during their friday pray…..this is not a propaganda

    • Stuart says:

      seemingly missing the similar claims by Old Believers, Uniate Catholics etc. Nice to see that to some people Chechen = Islamic extremist -what about those working for Kadyrov under Russian patronage

  31. prince says:

    I already commented

  32. Anatole says:

    These atrocities were independently verified by Russians themselves: the Left Opposition, hundreds of thousands of members of the Bolshevik Party who were sent to the gulag. That’s why criminals had free reign there: to humiliate and terrorize the opposition to Stalin. It’s not propaganda or an anti-Soviet vilification: it was done to the heroes of the Revolution themselves that Stalin wanted to suppress.

  33. Gonzo says:

    Nice times in Soviet Union ;) Very nice times pftiu

  34. D. Bunker says:

    It’s just not true that the gulags were a Stalinist invention. They were begun by Lenin and Trotsky and date from the earliest days of the Bolshevik regime, altho it’s true that Stalin greatly expanded them. Nor were they shut down right away after his death — they were gradually phased out, not for humanitarian reasons but because they were so inefficient. Some lasted well into the 60s.

    The gulags were part and parcel of communism. All communist regimes had them in one form or another — Russia, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, eastern Europe, etc. Hitler got the idea for his camps from the Soviets.

    If you’d like to read more about it I recommend GULAG by Anne Applebaum, who speaks Russian and did extensive research in the archives.

  35. Tody says:

    Never Forget!

  36. former_russian says:

    because russians are actually scam. Normal people (like most of those killed “enemies of the people”) are an anomaly phenomena. And it didn’t get better since then.

  37. Mr.P says:

    OMG! Russians are so barbaric.

    • Stuart says:

      That’s as we Brits say a very silly thing to say. Germans are so barbaric (the Holocaust) American are so barbaric (Treatment of Native Americans) British are so barbaric (Boer War camps and Mau-Mau). Pick any nation and you can find examples

  38. Drivel says:

    It`s pathetic how some nowadays russians still try to justify Stalin and its Gulag system saying it was necessary measure to protect the country, what a BS. Is it still the soviet propaganda working or pure evilness? Learn from germany and take responsibility. You should be ashamed!

  39. Johan says:

    Read Solzehnishen’s Gulag Archipellago. Then you will believe tjese pic. I bought the whole book. Potent. Gross. Sad.

Leave a Reply

  • Random Post