The exhibition „CHILDHOOD IN T HE GULAG” presents photo-documentary images that reflect the lives of Bessarabian children sentenced to deportation, famine, Russification, indoctrination and the forced excision from their own families because of the repressive policies of the totalitarian-communist regime in the Moldavian SSR, 1940-1941 and 1944-1953. During the Stalinist deportations in 1941, 1949 and 1951 alone, from the Moldavian SSR, about 20.000 children were deported, most of them being affected by the second wave of deportations from 5-6 July 1949 ( 11.899 children). Some children died on the way to exile; others were born on the train of deportees. Also, a dramatic number of children died due to the forced famine, harsh conditions in the childcare institutions for the children of „enemies of the people”, and some of them were born far from their parents’ and grandparents’ homeland – in the special settlements or in the places of imprisonment of their mothers. Along with the deported parents, imprisoned in camps or prisons, the children were forced to develop their own survival strategies to adapt to extreme conditions. The narratives of the children educated during the years of forced Sovietization in the Moldavian SSR contain feelings, attitudes, events, which reveal their individual vision of the past, their personal experience of confrontation with the system. Silence and self-censorship were among the imposed strategies, and the attitude of the repressive system towards children deported or excised from the families of „enemies of the people” or „traitors of The Motherland” reflects the essence of Soviet society and of the project of „happy childhood in the USSR”. The memories of the victims of the totalitarian-communist regime, the discourses and strategies applied in daily life, reveal detachments and pronounced fractures in the identity inculcated by the totalitarian Soviet state. The exhibition brings together about 180 photo-documentary images, accompanied by memoirs and archival documents putting in value the collections of the National Museum of History of Moldova, the Edin et County Museum, the Soro ca Museum of History and Ethnography, the Cahul County Museum, the INIS ProMemoria Archive, the archives of different communities of memory from the localities of the Republic of Moldova and, especially, the family archives of the victims of the totalitarian-communist regime in the Moldavian SSR.
The exhibition „Childhood in the Gulag” is realized with the support of ” The Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Program” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania and is a memory tribute to all children who went through the atrocities of the totalitarian-communist regime in the USSR.