U.S. - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs
Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD)
Trip Report for TDY to
Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk, Russia
9-26 September 2001
1. Purpose of TDY: To establish working research relationships with Russian humanitarian organizations and local Russian authorities in order to thoroughly investigate the eyewitness sightings of U.S. servicemen in the Gulag.
2. Summary: Gulag research team members from the Joint Commission Support Directorate established new contacts and conducted research in Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk. Key results of the investigation are as follows:
a. Moscow: A government representative of the Russian Republic of Sakha-Yakutia confirmed the existence of a Gulag in Bulun, and reported that American servicemen were detained there. This new report directly supports the eyewitness accounts of former Polish prisoners who met with American POWs in the Bulun Gulag circa 1950. With the support of the Sakha-Yakutian embassy, the Gulag study team will coordinate a research expedition to Bulun, Yakutia in March 2002. Team members also met with the Director of the Andrej Sakharov Museum - Mr. Yuri Samodurov. Mr. Samodurov provided access for DPMO/JCSD personnel to the Museums library of over 600 books on the Gulag - many of which are no longer in print. He also added the latest U.S.-Russia Joint Commission report into the Sakharov library collection. In addition, team members met with Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, the Director of the State Gulag Historical Museum, who spent over ten years in the Soviet Gulag. During his imprisonment in the Komi Republic, Mr. Ovseyenko heard of American POWs detained in the Gulag and at the behest of the Gulag study team has engaged his circle of Gulag researchers to investigate the issue. As a gesture of goodwill, he has offered DPMO/JCSD space at the new State Gulag Historical Museum to display material on the Gulag Study.
b. Krasnoyarsk: The Memorial Director, Vladimir Sirotinin, confirmed the existence of the "Rybak" Gulag which, according to the "Memoirs" of a former Gulag prisoner, contained American POWs. Mr. Sirotinin commented that Rybak was a secret uranium mining camp, which was not subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Mr. Sirotinin also provided critical data on the Soviet Polar Gulag camps, on which very little is known. The Krasnoyarsk Memorial will request access to the Federal Security Service (FSB) and MVD archives in order to research whether American POWs were detained in the Krasnoyarsk regional Gulag camps.
c. Irkutsk: According to the Memorial Director, Alexander Alexandrov, the majority of American Gulag prisoners were detained in Kareliya, Russia and eventually buried there. Mr. Alexandrov also provided the name of the former Ozerlag Camp Commander - S. K. Evstigneev - who still lives in Bratsk, Russia. Team members plan to interview Mr. Evstigneev next spring. In addition, Mr. Alexandrov indicated that all Gulag prisoner documents for the greater Irkutsk region were centralized in the MVD and Communist Party Archives in the city of Irkutsk. Negotiations are underway with Memorial representatives to initiate research in these archives.
3. Media: Memorial representatives will place newspaper announcements in the Krasnoyarsk region urging anyone with information on American POWs in the Gulag to come forward.
4. Conclusion: The results of the Gulag research trip exceeded all expectations. New information on Americans in the Gulag was garnered, and the circle of academic and historical sources was greatly expanded. As the Gulag research effort grows, more research trips will need to be conducted to strengthen and exploit current information sources and establish new ones.
Courtesy DPMO Website - http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/
Department of Defense,
Defense Prisoner Of War/Missing Personnel Office
2400 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-2400