Temporary Exhibition

What’s a Human Being Worth?


This exhibition is based on the memories and drawings of Eufrosinia Kersnovskaia, a survivor of the Gulag prison camps, showing 17 reproductions of her unique drawings.

Eufrosinia Antonovna Kersnovskaia (1907–1994) was born in Odessa to a family of Russian nobility. In 1919, her family fled the Bolsheviks and settled in Bessarabia in the Kersnovskaia family manor. In 1940, Bessarabia was annexed by the Soviet Union, and home and possessions of the Kersnovskaias’ were seized by the state. In 1941, Eufrosinia was deported to Siberia as an 'exile settler', to Narym territory in Tomski oblast. There, she would have died of hunger, so she attempted to escape, traversing over 1500 km across the frozen taiga, before being captured. She was sentenced to 10 years in the Gulag.

In this exhibition, we follow Eufrosinia on her journey of deportation, her escape across the frozen taiga and her life in the Norilsk prison camp. There, she met Dr Leonhard Mardna, a doctor from Tallinn. After Dr Mardna had brought her back to health, she worked in the hospital as a nurse and helped the doctor in his research.

From 1960, Eufrosinia Kersnovskaia lived in Essentuki with her mother. There, she wrote about her sufferings in the Gulag, producing a manuscript of 12 notebooks and 703 detailed drawings. Her manuscript has been translated into six languages. In Estonia, some of her drawings were first published in 1990 in Memento Teataja.

Languages: EST, ENG, RUS

The exhibition in the KGB prison cells is provided by the Chapkovsky family, the custodian of Eufrosinia Kersnovskaia’s heritage. Learn more about the project here.

The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.