Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Fifth Edition - October 9, 2015 - Written by Kammie Harn

About Ivan Denisovich

Ivan Denisovich has been sentenced to ten years in a labor camp in Siberia. Ivan is on the downhill side of his sentence, he only has two years left. Within the past eight years, Ivan has been in numerous different camps, doing many different jobs. Before Ivan was sentenced to labor camps, he was a pretty average guy. He has a wife and kids back at home, in the village. They don't have much money, but they have just enough to get by. Ivan won't allow his wife to send him gifts or mail while he's in the labor camp because he knows that they need the money at home. He said, "Freedom meant on thing -- home. But they won't let me go home."

Various Different Jobs that the Prisoners had to do --

Help Wanted - Carrying Dishes & Supplies from Camp to Work Cite!

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Dear Ivan Column

Dear Ivan,

I'm also in a work camp. I was wondering what your secret is. How do you get by on a day to day basis?


Dear Anonymous,

I have no secret. It is hard. Seeing my friends get packages from home is very sad. I told my wife not to send me gifts because they need the money at home, but sometimes I envy the others. Getting by daily isn't easy. Knowing that everyday here is another day closer to being back home with my family is what keeps me going.

Best Regards,


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Inspiration from Ivan

  • "Yes, you live with your feet in the mud and there's no time to be thinking about how you got in or how you're going to get out."
  • "You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul."
  • "Work was like a stick. It had two ends. When you worked for the knowing you gave them quality; when you worked for a fool you simply gave him eyewash."
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Buchenwald was one of the labor camps that Ivan was in. The picture above is of the entrance going into Buchenwald and there are some detailed pictures below.