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Article from Buffalo Newspaper, May 2nd 1930.
(Sgovio pictured far left)
Authors Preface 1979

I started to write this book nineteen years ago, immediately after returning to Freedom. The first version was a collection of notes, events, and dates. Since then I have painfully rewritten the manuscript several times until it reached its present state. There were many times I felt like throwing my pen away in despair at my inability to convey on paper that which I felt in my heart, soul, and mind. Sitting down to write was like climbing into a dentist's chair; I kept forcing myself to relive the agony of the past. A persistent voice inside me kept repeating, "Get it out ... get it all out of you."

I did not intend this book to be just another account of Soviet prisons and labor camps - instead, a journey through human experience ... my transformation from a communist, atheist child born in the revolutionary movement - into a God-fearing Christian.

My first attempt to leave the Soviet Union resulted in two long, continuous journeys of prisons, transports, concentration labor camps, and finally exile. It all started in 1938 when I was arrested by two NKVD agents after I left the United States Embassy in Moscow. Not until 1960, twenty-two years later, did I finally succeed in extricating myself from a captivity into which I had unwittingly blundered.

This book covers the periods of my childhood and youth in Buffalo, New York: my father's involvement in the American revolutionary movement ultimately resulting in his deportation as an undesirable alien; my father's early days in Moscow; the events leading to the arrest of my father and myself; my father's death in Moscow after ten years in the labor camps; and finally ... my many years in that frozen hell called Kolyma.

Since 1932 millions of prisoners were sent to die in Kolyma, the vast penal territory of the NKVD. To this day there are prisoners suffering there. And still, the overwhelming majority of Americans have never heard of Kolyma.

The events and names in this book are authentic, excepting for the names of five persons. In all cases I have indicated in the passages that I did not recall their names and gave them fictitious first names for convenience’s sake.

I have identified a few others with initials for personal reasons - to protect the innocent.

Finally, heartfelt acknowledgement is due my dear wife Joanne and children Robert, Joseph, and Annette for the many days and evenings they patiently bore without me - so I could write it all down ... the way it happened.
The following video was recently made with drawings from Thomas Sgovio's memory about his experience in the Gulag.
"Dear America, Why I Turned Against Communism"
Thomas Sgovio wrote a book of his experience:
Dear America
Cara America
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Thomas Sgovio's book:
"Dear America"
<----English Version here



We have a limited supply of this book detailing this miraculous story, so please order your copy now by clicking the payment button below.
Italian Version here---->
The artist Thomas Sgovio (1916–1997) created a series of drawings and paintings, which are now in the Hoover Archives at Stanford University, based on memories of his life as a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag.

Thomas Sgovio was a native of Buffalo, New York. After graduating from Buffalo Technical High School (Hutch Tech now), in 1935, he went to Russia to continue his art education. His studies at the Moscow Vsyekokhudojhnik Gallery of Fine Arts were abruptly ended in 1938 when Tom was arrested by the Soviet Secret Police and sent to the GULAG!
(Thomas Sgovio died in his Mesa, Arizona home on July 3rd, 1997. He is survived by his wife, 2 sons and 1 daughter.)

He spent 10 years in Kolyma, a concentration labor camp complex in Northern Siberia mining for gold. He then spent an additional 5 years in the timber regions of central Siberia.

After the death of Stalin, Thomas was released. He spent 5 years in Moscow working as a commercial artist and in 1960 finally succeeded in extricating himself and his mother from the U.S.S.R. Tom lived in Italy during which time he married and worked on diverse artistic projects. Tom and his wife returned to the United States in 1963.

His love for his native home of Buffalo, New York which he often despaired of ever seeing again, is reflected in his renderings of Buffalo landmarks, which were started immediately after his return.

Tom has been recognized with many awards in Western New York and has even written a book about his remarkable experiences and survival entitled "Dear America". He gave seminars and displayed his paintings, drawn from memory depicting the repression that he and millions of others suffered in the Soviet Union. This was his way of spreading the message of Freedom and Democracy.

(Thomas Sgovio died in his Mesa, Arizona home on July 3rd, 1997. He is survived by his wife, 2 sons and 1 daughter.)
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Paintings done by Sgovio of his hometown,
Buffalo, New York where he won numerous
awards for his depictions of local landmarks
(Any use of materials from this site is not allowed without the express written consent of the Sgovio Family)
To contact any member of our family please e-mail: sgovio@sgovio.com