I Found God in Soviet Russia
Introduction, Map and Chapter 1
By John Noble
Published by St. Martin's Press, New York, 1959
At the bottom of this page is a map showing the arctic region where John and other Soviet prisoners saw God's goodness in the midst of unthinkable deprivations.
Notes: Twenty-one-year-old John Noble and his father Charles were arrested at the end of World War II (1945), when the occupying Soviet armies took control of Dresden, ravaged the city (especially its women), and confiscated the Noble's camera factory. (The reasons will be explained in next week's excerpts from Chapter 2. You will also see some shocking illustrations of man's utter depravity apart from God.)
Though neither father nor son were charged with any crime, they would spend year after year in various Soviet prisons. But in the midst of horrendous deprivation that claimed the lives of prisoners all around them, God would repeatedly demonstrate His strength and comfort!
Eventually, the father was released while John was transported to Vorkuta, one of Stalin's most dreaded slave camp. There "political" prisoners like John (who apparently knew too much about the Soviet system to be released) would endure excruciating labor in icy coal mines as winter temperatures fell to minus 90F.
It's not surprising that most prisoners died of the torturous work, unthinkable climate, communist cruelties or the standard malnutrition. Human life was worthless apart from the coal each skimpily clothed body could extract from the icy caverns.
As an American citizen, John had many opportunities to share his faith, pray with others, and join in hidden worship. While Bibles were banned, imprisoned pastors from numerous countries had memorized whole chapters of the Bible. They would teach the precious Word in secret parts of the coal mines -- not unlike the early Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs.
The map below shows the location of this infamous work camp. Follow the curve of the Arctic Circle from the Norwegian Sea on the upper left corner to the lower right corner in arctic Russia. About 1/5 of an inch above that lower right corner you can see the word Vorkuta.
See pictures: http://www.videofact.com/english/gulags_pictures3.htm
Vorkuta: "In 1934, Stalin's NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) established the concentration camp called Vorkulag (formed from the words Vorkuta and lager, which means camp), and opened the first [coal] shaft. For the next twenty years, the mining community along the shores of the Vorkuta river would form the northernmost tip of the notorious prison camp system which Alexander Solzhenitsyn entitled, the Gulag Archipelago.
"Political prisoners, mostly intellectuals, old Bolsheviks, and later criminals, were brought primarily from Leningrad to work the coal mines. (They marched a good part of the way until 1941, when the railroad finally reached the basin.) In 1941 the city was officially established with NKVD overseers making up the main body of the inhabitants. During World War II, when Nazi troops over-ran the Donbas region, Vorkulag became the primary coal producer for Stalin's war effort.
"It would be pointless to try to calculate the number of people who perished in Vorkulag, as it would be to count the number of victims who died throughout the USSR during Stalin's reign. ...the locals say that when Spring melting carries away layers of top soil, fields of human bones sprout up out of the ground around the city.
"After Stalin's death in 1953, Soviet officials amnestied scores of political and criminal prisoners. With cruel irony, the authorities often made the release date coincide with Stalin's birthday in order to commemorate the memory of the 'Father of the Peoples.' Camp survivors were forbidden to return home, and forced to remain in Vorkuta to continue the development of the city. Like Australia, the city of Vorkuta became a society of ex convicts and exiles..." http://www.wav3.com/WAV3Pages/Vorkuta.html
See also Brainwashing and Education "Reform"