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Author: Subject: Letter from DAL'STROY
vasia
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[*] posted on 10/12/2008 at 12:27
Letter from DAL'STROY


Here is a cover posted on 13/10/1937 from ХАТТЫНАХ, Kolyma, Far Eastern Territory through Magadan (see violet postmark on back side) to Kharkov. The handwritten address bears the indication of Nagayevo Bay, wherein Magadan lies. I have managed to locate the origin of the cover in a map of the Dal'stroy, but any additional information would be welcome.

Was it habitual for the prisoners to write their name on the inside of the backflap? What purpose did it serve?

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vasia
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[*] posted on 10/12/2008 at 12:33


Here is the front of the cover:

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vasia
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[*] posted on 10/12/2008 at 12:34


The back of the cover:

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vasia
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[*] posted on 10/12/2008 at 12:35


And the back with opened flap:

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jlechtanski
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[*] posted on 10/13/2008 at 16:01


Could it be that the prisoners wrote their names on the unsealed flaps for censorship purposes?

Is that also a serial number on the flap?
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ameis33
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[*] posted on 10/13/2008 at 16:15


What's written on the flap is visible even at envelope closed. If it was a try to avoid the censor ship (i think so), it has to be improved...
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Gary
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[*] posted on 10/13/2008 at 16:44


I know very little about the Soviet era and especially anything related to prisoners. What on this cover tells us it is from a prisoner?
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Alep
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[*] posted on 10/14/2008 at 01:55


There is on the flap besides the prisoner's name and birthdate that he was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment by the Special Board. It was still a relatively mild sentence for those years.
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[*] posted on 10/14/2008 at 05:33


My theory is that the prisoner had to write his name on the inside of the flap, and not seal the letter. This way the censor could take it out and read it and know who was sending it without having to flip the envelope back over.
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[*] posted on 10/14/2008 at 12:40


Here is a sketch map of Dal'stroy with the location of ХАТТЫНАХ (the origin of the cover) circled at upper left.

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Rasputin
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[*] posted on 10/14/2008 at 14:50


Quote:
Originally posted by Unhinged
My theory is that the prisoner had to write his name on the inside of the flap, and not seal the letter. This way the censor could take it out and read it and know who was sending it without having to flip the envelope back over.


You're correct about the prisoner requirement to write on the inside flap, and the letter did indeed have to be submitted unsealed for ease of censorship. The prisoner would often add his prison ID number, if any, the "crime" with which he was charged, and the number of years he had to serve. That was information intended for the censor, and it was put on the inside flap for the simple reason that the authorities didn't want that information to show on the OUTSIDE of the envelope, where it could be seen by postal workers and the curious. (For the same reason, the camps were given coded numbers so that the public wouldn't learn of the immense prison-camp network.)

From the looks of it (see the partial notation notation next to the paper still adhering to the flap, this person was charged under Article 58-10 of the RSFSR Criminal Code:

"Propaganda or agitation containing an appeal for the overthrow, subversion, or weakening of Soviet power or to commission of individual counter-revolutionary crimes (Sections 58-2-58.9 of this Code), and, in like manner, dissemination or manufacture or storage of literature of identical content shall be punished by

deprivation of freedom for a period of at least 6 months.

Identical actions in times of mass unrest or with use of religious or national prejudices of the masses, or in a war situation, or in locales where martial law has been declared, incur

measures of social protection indicated in Section 58 of this Code. (6 June 1927 (S.U. 1927, No. 49, Section 330)." From Jacques Rossi's "The GULAG Handbook," Appendix 11, p. 547.

Kazakov was likely to have been scooped up during the Great Purge that began in 1936. 58-10 was a catch-all that landed many people in the camps for as little as a joke, an entry in a diary, or nothing at all.

Nice GULAG cover.
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Jeff
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