“The More (and Less) Valuable Human Element”
This chapter explores a process of selection (otbor) with which the Gulag manages its disabled workforce. This process illustrates the degree to which camps, colonies, prisons, and settlements had formed a single unified system. These diverse forms and locations of incarceration formed a “hierarchy of detention.” Many historians believe that this system of detention was because of changing demands for labor and the desire to separate certain categories of prisoners. However, this chapter describes another process of prisoner sorting, one governed not by the perceived danger of prisoners, but by their health. The prisoners were distributed among camps and colonies according to the inmates' health, with the ultimate goal of maximizing production and exploitation.
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