Glory to the Dead, Freedom to the Living


This photograph is from an album of 47 views of convicts and structures at the Akatuy Prison, one of the main centers where political prisoners were held in the Russian Empire during the late-tsarist period. The album belonged to Isaiah Aronovich Shinkman, a physician and member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, who was incarcerated at Akatuy from 1906 to 1911. The prison was located at the Akatuy silver mine in Nerchinsk okrug (district) in the Transbaikal Territory of Siberia. Thousands of political prisoners were exiled to Siberia from European Russia and from Poland, Finland, Latvia, and Estonia (all then part of the Russian Empire) following the repression of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Criminal labor convicts and political prisoners had long been sent to Nerchinsk to work in extracting lead-silver ores in the region’s mines. The American explorer and journalist George Kennan (1845–1924) visited Akatuy in 1885, and wrote about his experience in his book Siberia and the Exile System (1891), a scathing critique of the system of prisons and prison camps in Russia. The album is held by the Irkutsk State University in Irkutsk and was digitized for the Meeting of Frontiers digital library project in the early 2000s. The photographs it contains offer glimpses into the day-to-day existence and activities of the political prisoners in Siberia in the years before World War I and the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Слава - погибшим, живущим - свобода

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photograph : black and white, glossy paper ; 11.5 x 7.3 centimeters


  • Both female convicts and women following their husbands into exile were subject to sexual abuse in the marching convoys by which convicts and exiles were transported to Siberia. Regulations according to which men and women were to be separated in the convoys were not enforced, and many women were forced into prostitution. Conditions in locations of exile were no better; the wives were forced to support themselves and their families through prostitution in the absence of other possibilities for employment. In some locations, such as Sakhalin Island, prostitution was organized by the camp administration itself.

Last updated: October 31, 2017