As the Japanese empire collapsed in August 1945, over 600,000 Japanese soldiers in Manchuria surrendered to the Red Army and were transported to Soviet labor camps, mainly in Siberia. There they were held in most cases for between two and four years, and some far longer. Known as the Siberian Internment (Shiberia yokuryū), this period of prolonged captivity brought forced labor and exposure to an intense campaign of ideological reeducation in which Japanese activists played an important role. Long before Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) appeared in the USSR, Japanese gulag veterans began to produce not just memoirs but essays, poetry, sculpture, and painting based on their experiences. Using the work of Kazuki Yasuo, Takasugi Ichirō, and Ishihara Yoshirō, Barshay shows the relationship between length of captivity and interpretation of the mass and variety of memory-work undertaken by former internees.
Andrew Barshay teaches modern Japanese history at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He is the author of State and Intellectual in Imperial Japan (1988) and The Social Sciences in Modern Japan (2004), both of which have appeared in Japanese translation.
Sponsored by the UW Japan Studies Program
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