OST | Granta

  • Published: 18/11/2021
  • ISBN: 9781783785278
  • Granta Books
  • 496 pages



Translated by Georgia Thomson

Winner of the Jan Michalski Prize 2021

An Ostarbeiter was anEastern Worker’, rounded up by Nazi Germany from the captured territories in Central and Eastern Europe. By the end of the war, it is estimated that approximately 3 million to 5.5. million Ostarbeiter were forced to work in guarded work camps, many of them younger than 16 years old – at which age they would be conscripted for military service. Ostarbeiter worked 12 hours a day on starvation on rations; as ethnic Slavs, they were treated with extraordinary brutality by Nazi guards who considered them ‘sub-human’ by the standards of the Aryan master race. They were distinguished by the label ‘OST’ sewn onto their uniforms.

OST is based on over two hundred personal accounts, hundreds of hours of interviews, and over 350,000 letters. This important publication will ensure that the voices of the brutalised and displaced Ostarbeiter will not be forgotten.

Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of Memorial, the Ostarbeiter are no longer forgotten victims. OST is a valuable and important history; it is, moreover, a testament to revealing and recording uncomfortable truths, at a time when the myth of Russia is once again being remade, and attacks on those who would deny that myth increase


The Author

MEMORIAL International is a Russian historical and civil rights society focused on recording and publicising the Soviet Union’s totalitarian past, and monitoring human rights in Russia and other post-Soviet states. Memorial is a recipient of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize

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From the Same Author

My Father's Letters

MEMORIAL, translated by Georgia Thomson

‘They will live as human beings and die as human beings; and in this alone lies man’s eternal and bitter victory over all the grandiose and inhuman forces that ever have been or will be.’
Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

Between the 1930s and 1950s, millions of people were sent to the Gulag in the Soviet Union. My Father’s Letters tells the stories of 16 men – mostly members of the intelligentsia, and loyal Soviet subjects – who were imprisoned in the Gulag camps, through the letters they sent back to their wives and children. Here are letters illustrated by fathers keen to educate their children in science and natural history; the tragic missives of a former military man convinced that the terrible mistake of his arrest will be rectified; the ‘letter’ stitched on a bedsheet with a fishbone and smuggled out of a maximum security camp. My Father’s Letters is an immediate source of life in prison during Stalin’s Great Terror. Almost none of the men writing these letters survived.