Siberian Shadows: Japanese Prisoners Recall the Soviet Gulag, 1945-1956

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Friday, November 15th, 2013

Friday, November 15, 20133:00PM - 5:00PMExternal Event, Gerald Larkin Building
Room LA200,
15 Devonshire Place
Toronto, ON, Canada
M5S 1H8
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Reimagining the Asia-Pacific Series


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, I suggest that the length of captivity offers us the best clue to interpreting 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 most recently of The Gods Left First: The Captivity and Repatriation of Japanese POWs in Northeast Asia, 1945-1956. His earlier books include State and Intellectual in Imperial Japan (1988) and The Social Sciences in Modern Japan (2004), both of which have appeared in Japanese translation.


Lori Lytle


Andrew E. Barshay
Professor and Dr. C. F. Koo and Cecilia Koo Chair in East Asian Studies, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Main Sponsor

Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies


Asian Institute

Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies

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