by Olga Adamova-Sliozberg
translated by Katharine Gratwick Baker
Northwestern University Press, 2011
eISBN: 978-0-8101-6523-6 | Paper: 978-0-8101-2739-5
Library of Congress Classification DK268.A27A33 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 365.45092

This is the first English translation of Olga Adamova-Sliozberg’s mesmerizing My Journey​, which was not officially published in Russia until 2002. It is among the best known of Gulag memoirs and was one of the first to become widely available in underground samizdat circulation. Alexander Solzhenitsyn relied heavily upon it when writing Gulag Archipelago, and it remains the best account of the daily life of women in the Soviet prison camps.

Arrested along with her husband (who, she would much later learn, was shot the next day) in the great purges of the thirties, Adamova-Sliozberg decided to record her Gulag experiences a year after her arrest, and she “wrote them down in her head” (paper and pencils were not available to prisoners) every night for years. When she returned to Moscow after the war in 1946, she composed the memoir on paper for the first time and then buried it in the garden of the family dacha. After her re-arrest and seven more years of banishment to Kazakhstan, she returned to the dacha to dig up the buried memoir, but could not find it. She sat down and wrote it all over again.

In her later years she also added a collection of stories about her family. Concluding on a hopeful note—Adamova-Sliozberg’s record is cleared, she re-marries a fellow former-prisoner, and she is reunited with her children—this story is a stunning account of perseverance in the face of injustice and unimaginable hardship. This vital primary source continues to fascinate anyone interesting in the tumultuous history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century.