The political climate in the Soviet Union in the 1950s was sardonically portrayed by a popular joke circulating at the time. While the XX Party Congress led to changes in the physical and legal status of zeks and returnees, it was an era characterized by contradictory ethos. The disparity between official policy and unofficial practice resulted from and reflected the pervasive ambivalence at all levels of the government. The chapter describes both official "top-down" pronouncements regarding returnee issues and the victims' "bottom-up" experience created by these policies. It shows that people who left for the camps were changed so that they were not the same ones who returned, and the place to which they returned was not the same place they had left. In a country where service to the motherland was intensely promoted by propaganda, the symbols of that service in the form of awards were an important indicator of social status.