For a long time, the American government deliberateivnwithheld the facts about the Kolyma death camps. In 1943.nto discredit the grirh rumors about Siberia, Roosevelt sentnhis Vice President, Henry Wallace, on an official missionnthere. Wallace stopped at Magadan, visited the death campn”Bolshevik” at one of Kolyma’s gold mines, then flew on tonIrkutsk, On his return to the U.S., Wallace summarized hisntrip in Soviet Asia Mission (1946), filled with warm praisenfor his host, NKVD General I.F. Nikishov, then commandernof all the Dal’stwi death camps. About the campsnthe Vice President wrote: “In North Siberia today, Russiansnhave developed urban life comparable in general to that ofnour own Northwestern States and .Alaska.” The Dal’stroinorganization Wallace compared to “our Tennessee Valleyn.Authority.” From his trip to Irkutsk, at that time one of thenadministrative centers of Siberian death camps, Wallacenrecorded these impressions: “It was Trinity Sunday, June 4,nand the Russian people were celebrating it by walking in thensunshine. The factories were closed, as is usual on Sundays,nso the workers could go out and tend their gardens. It wasnrestful to hear the people singing as they strolled along thenriverside, the youth playing accordions. In their folk songsnone feels the stirrings of the Russian peasant soul.” Givennsuch misinformation from the nation’s highest electednofficials, it’s no wonder that Life magazine that same yearnequated the Russian NKVD and the American FBI.nIn December 1944, National Geographic magazine publishedna lengthy article by Owen Lattimore, who hadnaccompanied Henry Wallace on the State Departmentsponsorednvisit to,Siberia. Lattimore described the Dal’stroindeath caipp organization in Kolyma as “a combination ofnHudson’s Bay Company and T’;A.” .At Magadan, thenheadquarters of the Dal’stroi, Lattimore noticed that “thenwharves in the port were stocked high with Americannequipment.” He also enjoyed “a first-class orchestra and angood light opera company” while at Magadan. About hisnhost, NKVD Gen. Nikishov, the commandant of the deathncamps. Lattimore remarks: “Mister Nikishov, the head ofnDal’strou had just been decorated with the Order of Hero ofnthe Soviet Union for his extraordinary achievements. BothnNikishov and his wife have a trained and sensitive interest innart and music and a deep sense of civic responsibility.” .ndnwhat about the gold fields themselves, where at that vervntime up to 400,000 prisoners were being worked and starvednto death each year? Prof. Lattimore writes: “We -isited thengold mines operated by Dal’stroi in the valley of KolymanRiver. Instead of the sin, gin, and brawling of an old-timengold rush, we fpund extensive greenhouses growing tomatoes,ncucumbers, and even melons to make sure the hardynminers got enough vitamins.”nWe get a different picture of the NK’D and Socialistndeath camps from the few ex-prisoners who managed tonescape or otherwise survive. One such survivor was S.nRawicz, who in The Long Walk described the death marchnthat followed the transport of 4,000 prisoners to Irkutsk innunheated freight cars in the middle of winter.n[Red Army] soldiers walked down the trainnremoving seals and unbarring freight cars andnordering: All Out! We stumbled out and shriekingnwhipping wind and a subzero temperature made usn”The prisoners in the [Dal’stroi] camps at Magadaiiinwere honored in 1944 by the extraordinary “nvisit of two eminent Americans, Henry A. Wallace,nVice President of the United States, andnProfessor. Owen Lattimore, representing the Officenof War Information. [Dal’stroi], as a goodnhost, made special preparations to receive them.nIn a single night NKVD persormel dismantled thencamp watchtowers around Magadan. From privatenstocks, they hastily gathered Russian goods to fillnthe shelves of stores serving NKVD and civiliannsupervisors in the town. The emaciatedwomen “nprisoners who toiled as swirieherds at the nearbynfarm were replaced by the most presentablenNKyD women available. Strong, healthy, happylookihgnyoung men showed up in the “mines tonrelieve .the” gaunt prisoners. During the three daysnthe irnericans visited the camps, all prisonersnwere, kept out of sight under guard and,- for thenfirst and last time, shown motion pictures so theynwould create no disturbance.” — – .’n—KGBn• by John Barronngulp and gasp . . . we shivered uncontrollably. Itnwas the second week of December and Siberia wasnfrost-bound in winter. We met it ill clad only in anpair of trousers, canvas shoes and a thin cottonnblouse. Only on the third day in an open potatonfield buried under two feet of snow were thenprisoners finally given an issue of winternclothing. . . . On the fourth day a whole convoy ofnsome 60 powerful lorries drove into the field.nSoldiers were detailed into sections of about 20nmen, each section disposed to guard 100 prisonersnstrung two abreast behind each lorry. . . . Fromneach lorry was uncoiled a length of heavy steelnchain. A soldier walked between the two men atnthe head of each column, forcing them apart, andnthen walked through the middle cleaving thenprisoners into single lines. Other soldiers followednhim running out the chain. . . . Then 50 men anside, we were handcuffed to the chain by one wrist.nThe forward end of each chain was secured to anstrong hook attached to the rear of each lorry. Thentroops piled quickly into the back of the lorry. ‘V’enwere ready to start. The procession began to moe,nthe lorry at the head setting the pace. . . . Wentrudged non-stop through the first night for 12nhours or more.nThe chained prisoners were thus driven on foot over 1,000nmiles through the snow for two months in the middle of thenSiberian winter.nEven as Wallace, Lattimore, and others were spreadingntheir misinformation, the true facts about Kolyma werenalready well-known and available to the officials of the U.S.nand the British governments. Former Polish POW’s whonhad survived the death camps began to reach the Free PolishnnnNOVEMBER 1985/31n