Map documenting the extent of the Soviet gulag system

[Sylwester Mora & Piotr Zwierniak,] MAP OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN SOVIET RUSSIA. [Rome: Wlochy, 1945.]
Propaganda map and surrounding text. The map printed in two colors, 13 1/8”h x 23 ¼”w at neat line. Overall printed area 19”h x 26”w on a 19 ½”h x 27 ½”w sheet.

A somewhat crude but powerful “persuasive map” produced at the end of the Second World War and documenting, though likely with some exaggeration, the extent of the Soviet gulag system.

The Persuasive Maps web site of P.J. Mode describes the map and provides some helpful context:

“The first appearance of a cold war map of Soviet concentration camps. It purports to show the various concentration camp systems, occupying fully half the territory of the Soviet Union. Text on the right of the map explains the organization of the camps and says that it was drawn from “original soviet documents and written statements from former prisoners.” It explains that there are additional camps not shown on the map for want of adequate information. At the top of the map are photographs of “soviet documents from the camp authorities.” Below the map are details about the particular industries and activities of individual camps and systems.


“The map was produced by “by two Polish military offıcers, Sylvester Mora and Pierre Zwierniak” in “one of the fırst books to bring in fırsthand accounts by prisoners and to feature some of the fırst attempts at quantifying slave labor.” (Barney 2013, 346). The book was Sprawiedliwość Sowiecka, published in Rome in 1945, also published as La Justice Sovietique and Giustizia Sovietica. Mora and Zwierniak were pseudonyms for S. Starzewski and Kazimierz Zamorski ([Anne] Applebaum[, Gulag: A History,] 2003, 649.)”

Perhaps the strangest feature of the map is the use of English for the title and the extensive “Particulars” to the right of and below the map. One possible explanation is that the authors wished to produce but one version of the map for use in the Polish, French and Italian editions, and that English was the language most likely to be understood by all three audiences.

The Persuasive Maps collection includes a number of other maps of the gulag system, including “Gulag”—Slavery, Inc. (1947, #1337); Location of Forced-Labor Camps in the Soviet Union (1951, #1346); and Map of the U.S.S.R. (1982, #1390).

Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection, #1330.


A hint of wear and wrinkling along old folds, else excellent.