Danzig Baldaev–scenes from the GULAG

Danzig Baldaev was employed by the GULAG. The son of an ‘enemy of the people’, he was subject to repression in communist Russia and sent to an orphanage for children of political prisoners. After serving in the army in World War II, he came to Leningrad in 1948 and was ordered by the NKVD to work as a warden in ‘Kresty’ – an infamous Leningrad prison – where he started drawing the tattoos of criminals. His collection of tattoos were recorded in different reformatory settlements across the former USSR between 1948–2000. Danzig Baldaev died in 2005. The images he drew are shocking but not entirely surprising if you have read the testimony of GULAG survivors such as Eugenia Ginzburg.


A startled Zek is now drowning in concrete — Baldaev remarks that this was a fate commonly inflicted by “criminal” prisoners upon workers- i.e. those who had been tossed in the Gulag as slave labour. ‘There is no way of knowing how many victims the concrete structures of power plants hold’ he notes.

About kinneret

Hello, and welcome. I'm writing this blog under an alias. Why an alias? I started to write what may be described as an "American Gothic" novel (sort of Henry James/ Franz Kafka with violence) with some autobiographical details. ..when I started this blog I just decided to use the alias. This blog is about art and art history, but my interests also include literature, film analysis, psychology, forensic psychology, faerie tale analysis, cognitive therapy, cognitive linguistics, classical theater, World War II, and Russian and British history. My favorite writers include Kafka, the Brontes, and Philip K Dick. Thank you for reading this blog and I will happily reply to any comments.
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3 Responses to Danzig Baldaev–scenes from the GULAG

  1. Ginene Nagel says:

    It must have been terrifying to be a prisoner there…well, it would be terrifying to be a prisoner anywhere. It is fascinating that there is a record of his tattoo drawings. It is a history documented on the human body!

  2. Saint Hans says:

    There’s a book on his illustrations here:
    Needless to say this just made my wish list.
    Amazing man.

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