of the Gulag
Antanas Panavas: The system relaxes
“It was before March 1953, Stalin’s death. We could see out there the effect of one man’s death on the whole system. Stalin was dead, that was all. But afterwards, we suddenly felt there were changes at the top, we could read the papers and we had the radio. Suddenly things became easier with the kommandantura. Until then we had to report there every two weeks to sign the book and show we hadn’t escaped.
We older Lithuanian deportees used to joke that we’d already written several books. We had to go and sign in every two weeks and so did every member of the family.”