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THE PAST RECOLLECTED Summary
The talk about his release makes Ivan think about his imprisonment. In February of 1942, his unit was surrounded by the Germans, and most of the men surrendered. In a few days, Ivan and four others managed to escape. Ivan and another soldier succeeded in returning to the Russian line. Ironically, they were arrested and accused of being spies. When Ivan was questioned about being a spy for the Germans, he said that he was. He feared that if he denied it, he would be shot. As a result of his confession, Ivan was sent to prison camp for treason.
Ivan also thinks about the differences between a regular prison camp and this special camp. In some ways, he believes the special camp to be better even though the labor is harder. At least, this camp has a regular schedule. In the previous logging camp, the hours were not set, but controlled by a quota; the prisoners had to work each day until their quota was filled. The special camp also gives larger rations since the work is more demanding.
The cruelty of the Soviet system is again exposed in this chapter. The Captain had received his punishment for accepting a medal from British naval officers, and Gopchik had been imprisoned for serving milk to a revolutionary. When Ivan escaped from the Germans and returned to the Russian line, he was arrested for being a spy. During his questioning, he decided to confess to something he did not do, for he realized that denying it would cause instant death. As a result, Ivan signed a confession and was sent to a labor camp for ten years for treason, which he did not commit. The Soviets were always eager to sentence a man to hard labor. It was a cheap and easy way to get things done and much more productive than sending a man to a prison cell.